Surrounding Area


Cley, with its long history, was once described as “a small town and port” with “sailing packets to London and Hull once a fortnight” but its importance declined when reclamation of the coastal marshes began in the seventeenth century. The river Glaven, originally tidal, is now a slow flowing river never more than 20 feet wide and largely silted up.


The sea three quarters of a mile away is kept at bay by a high shingle bank and the area between the village and sea is an expanse of part salt, part fresh marshland, with its unique bird and plant life. Cley was the first Nature reserve in the country, starting a national movement of forty seven Wildlife Trusts and over 2,000 nature reserves. North Norfolk is a great all-year holiday, weekend or short break destination, check out Visit Norfolk and plan your journey to this Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

The Marshes

The marshes around Cley are internationally important for their populations of rare breeding and visiting birds. Cley Marshes bird reserve has been in the care of the Norfolk Wildlife Trust since 1926, making it the oldest county Wildlife Trust reserve in Britain. Among resident breeding birds are avocet, bearded tit, bittern, marsh harrier and spoonbill. Winter visitors include brent goose, Eurasian wigeon, pintail and many species of wading birds. Cley, like neighbouring Salthouse is ideally situated at the apex of the North Norfolk coast as a staging ground for passage migrants, vagrants and rarities of all kinds. A new eco-friendly visitor centre opened in 2007 containing a café, shop, viewing areas (including viewing from a camera on the reserve), exhibition area, interpretation and toilets. The view from the visitor centre across the marsh to the sea is breathtaking. Cley Marshes is the home of the Bird Information Service, publishers of Birding World. The shingle bank holds large numbers of yellow horned poppy.