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Discovering the Norfolk Coast: A special place

The Norfolk Coast is a protected Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty that sweeps around most of the coastline of Norfolk, England. Comprising 451 square kilometres of intertidal, coastal and agricultural land that stretches across the territory of three different local authorities and one county council, the Area is characterised by remarkable natural landscapes, and renowned as one of the few lowland areas in the UK to have a genuine ‘wilderness’ quality.

The Norfolk Coast is a unique area of remarkable beauty, diversity and scientific importance. What we see today is a result of the interplay of environmental influences on the area over millions of years and more recently its use and modification by people over thousands of years.

The human influence is obvious in settlements and buildings, communications, field patterns and agriculture, and in archaeological remains. Even the apparently wild parts of the area, for example coastal marshes and cliffs, have been modified by flood defence banks and erosion protection structures.

The area we see is a product of the interaction of an area’s geology, its past and present climate, and how people have used the land – often over thousands of years. Landforms are based on geology, which together with soil types influence hydrology and land use, and the wildlife habitats that are components of the landscape.

Buildings and settlements are also wildlife habitats and landscape components, and often reflect local geology. So, landscape, biodiversity and geodiversity are closely linked, and also interact with building and settlement patterns and local cultural heritage. Landscapes are much more than just a view, and tell an often rich and complex story.


Norfolk Coast National Landscape Designation Map

The Area was legally designated as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty in 1968, following a five-year process of consideration of its landscape quality, statutory assessments by national conservation agencies, and consultation with a broad range of stakeholders, including local landowners, residents and businesses, as well as visitors and the wider public.

It runs along just over 90 kilometres of the Norfolk coast, stretching from the mean low water mark and up to eight kilometres inland. Within its boundaries there are a wealth of different natural and manmade landscapes, many rich with wildlife: heaths and moors, salt marshes and high cliffs, chalk rivers and busy harbours.

Designation map

This map shows the approximate boundary, settlements and relief of the Norfolk Coast AONB.
Please note: this is NOT the definitive designation map.

This definitive 1968 Norfolk Coast Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty designation map is in two sections, at a scale of 1:64,000 (one inch to the mile). The original black and white copy of this can be viewed by appointment at our office.

The definitive map still represents the correct current AONB boundary, which has not been altered since designation. However, because of the scale and the fact that some features, e.g. roads, may have changed in some cases, it may be difficult in a few places to judge exactly where the boundary is ‘on the ground’.

A low resolution pdf copy of East and West sections can be found here:

AONB 1968 West >

AONB 1968 East >

Read more about the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty designation >

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