An insider's guide to the county's best kept secrets
NR31 9BW/NR31 9BX
(These are postcodes of the two nearest holiday resorts to the beach. They will not take you directly to Beach Road but should get you close enough via Sat nav to then find your way).
A sandy surprise on the border of Suffolk with spectacular views of the curving coastline and a good chance of seeing horses gallop along the shore. Hopton beach is worth the effort to get to despite lack of nearby parking.
Where to find it
The easiest way to reach Hopton beach is from the village via Beach Road. It is not well signposted so keep a good look out or you’ll miss it. Beach Road is a narrow path only just wide enough for a car. It’s one of those lovely lanes where the trees on either side lean towards each other forming an archway and the sun bursts through the branches and leaves. If you love those kinds of lanes, Norfolk is full of them. There’s no room for parking although someone needing close disabled access could squeeze a vehicle at the end perhaps. Prepare for a challenging three point turn though. It’s best to park in the village if possible and walk down.
What to expect
At one end of the lane there’s a steep slope down to the sand. From here, the furthest beach in Norfolk, you’re in for an impressive view of the coast as it curves round to Great Yarmouth. The bay is linked by wooden sea groynes that create a scalloped pattern and this makes for some beautiful photos. To the right the coast curves to a cliff face that enters Suffolk but there is no beach access to the county owing to storm damage and the anticipation of a collapse in structure. But why would you want to leave Norfolk anyway?
Looking out to the horizon Scroby Sands offshore wind farm is visible; boat trips to here are popular for sighting of a large colony of seals. Back on the beach and up from the sea defences is a low grassed bank with occasional homes with beautiful verandas (wow, what a view!) and caravans galore. This beach is only really used by the two holiday resorts that have direct beach access.
5-Star Holiday Resort
Hopton Holiday Village takes up much of the cliff top alongside Potters which shares an interesting history. In 1914 a solicitor, Herbert Potter, won £500 in a newspaper competition. He bought this plot of land in Hopton and developed one of the first ever holiday camps by laying out rows of surplus army Nissan huts. In the 1980s his son re-vamped the site into a luxury leisure complex for families and in 2002 the English Tourist Council awarded Potter’s Britain’s first 5-star holiday village. I’ve not been myself yet so I can’t vouch for its finest status but it certainly has direct access to a charming beach.
Hopton is a quiet beach even in peak season. On a sunny day you’ll find children and families scattered here and there with sandcastles and moats being built with much delight. It’s a sandy beach with pebbles in sections as if they’ve been offloaded there.
If you like to sit by the sea and take in the scene around you then you’re in for a treat here as Hopton beach is active yet peacefully so. If you’re lucky, as I’ve been on several visits, you may get to watch galloping horses along the shore. The beach seems to be part of their regular workout route and it makes for a beautiful and romantic sight. I’m thrilled whenever I see them trotting to the water’s edge and dipping their hooves in for a splash.
If you’re looking for a more active beach pursuit, Hopton is part of the ‘walk4life’ campaign. You’ll find information display boards between Hopton and Gorleston beaches with details of timed walks. If you visit the website link below there is also the facility to create your own tailor made walks and track your progress.
I never want to leave a gorgeous beach but this I find is one of the hardest to depart from.