Dog friendly cottages near Horsey seals

Horsey Seals


The UK is home to around half of the world’s grey seal population; in fact, at Horsey – a small coastal village less than nine miles from Happisburgh and Boundary Stables – human residents are significantly outnumbered by grey seals. The Horsey seal colony is one of Norfolk’s most popular visitor attractions, and many of our winter guests at Boundary Stables have said that seeing the seals at Horsey was a highlight of their holiday.


The seals are monitored and protected by a charitable organisation called Friends of Horsey Seals. This group of local volunteers work hard all year round to ensure the well-being of the seals, as well as facilitating viewing opportunities for the public. The volunteers have a great deal of knowledge about the seals, so if you have any questions while you’re there, just ask.


For the grey seal – Halichoerus grypus (‘hooked-nose sea pig’) – winter is the busiest time of the year. Between November and January, heavily pregnant cows haul out just a day or two before their babies are due, settling themselves into a comfortable spot for birthing. For the first three weeks of their lives, the new-born pups, covered in soft white fur and weighing in at around 14 kg, gorge themselves on their mothers’ fatty milk, gaining approximately two kg a day; the mothers, however, fast during the nursing period, and can lose up to a quarter of their body weight.


The bulls, too, eat nothing during these weeks – and for a very good reason. During the nursing period, the bull seals haul out and position themselves close to the cows, so that when the pups are weaned, they’re in a good position to mate with as many females as they can; wandering off to find food might mean losing one’s place! The younger bulls remain on the outskirts of the group; one day they’ll be big enough to compete for mates.


Mating can take up to 45 minutes. After conception, there is delayed implantation (the embryo doesn’t attach to the uterus until more than two months later), and with the nine-month gestation period, the total pregnancy is just over 11 months. Baby seals, therefore, are always born at the same time of the year.


When you visit Horsey by car, there’s plenty of space to park. The National Trust pay-and-display car park by Horsey Mill (free to National Trust members) is approximately 20 minutes’ walk away from the viewing sites, and from the car park at Horsey Gap, there’s a walk of about 30 minutes. In the winter time, the footpaths leading to the beach are unsuitable for pushchairs and wheelchairs, so this excursion is not recommended for those with limited mobility.


If you’re looking for somewhere nice to eat and drink, we can recommend Poppylands – a traditional tearoom and licenced restaurant at Delph Farm, Waxham Road, Horsey – or the Nelson Head public house, The Street, Horsey.


Many of our guests return again and again to Boundary Stables. Here are a few of their comments:


Haven’t found any accommodation as good as this for my disability … Excellent wheelchair access to all rooms … Would recommend, but don’t want to. We’d never be able to book if more people knew how good it is!


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