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Horsey lies on the Norfolk coast between Winterton and Sea Palling. Its name derives from 'horse land' surrounded by water. Just inland of the village lies Horsey Mere which is accessible by boat from the River Thurne via Heigham Sound and Meadow Dyke.

Horsey Mill

Horsey Mill

Horsey Beach

Horsey Beach and Dunes

Arthur Ransome (1884-1967)

In Coot Club the children sail up the River Thurne to Horsey Mere in the Teasel. While on the Mere they spot a pair of marsh harriers:

They swept across the Mere to the far reed-beds, turned and were half-way back, when, almost in a shout, Dick cried, "There's our one more bird. Look! It's a hawk. Yellow head..."
"Marsh Harrier," said Tom. "Jolly rare."
"There's another," said Dick. "Tow of them."
One bird was high above the reeds. The other, the larger one, was rising towards it.

Wilkie Collins (1824-89)

In his novel Armadale (1866) Wilkie Collins transforms Horsey Mere into 'Hurle Mere' - and in so doing - succeeds in capturing the beauty and mystery of the Broadland landscape.

John Betjeman (1906-84)

The poet John Betjeman used to visit the Norfolk Broads when he was a child and was familiar with Horsey Mere and the nearby coastline. In his poem East Anglian Bathe he refers to it specifically:

Oh when the early morning at the seaside
  Took us with hurrying steps from Horsey Mere
To see the whistling bent-grass on the leeside
  And then the tumbled breaker-line appear,
On high, the clouds with mighty adumbration
  Sailed over us to seaward fast and clear
And jellyfish in quivering isolation
  Lay silted in the dry sand of the breeze
And we, along the table-land of beach blown
  Went gooseflesh from our shoulders to our knees
And ran to catch the football, each to each thrown,
  In the soft and swirling music of the seas.

There splashed about our ankles as we waded
  Those intersecting wavelets morning-cold,
And sudden dark a patch of sky was shaded,
  And sudden light, another patch would hold
The warmth of whirling atoms in a sun-shot
  And underwater sandstorm green and gold.
So in we dived and louder than a gunshot
  Sea-water broke in fountains down the ear.
How cold the bathe, how chattering cold the drying,
  How welcoming the inland reeds appear,
The wood-smoke and the breakfast and the frying,
  And your warm freshwater ripples, Horsey Mere.

Richard Mabey

In his book Nature Cure - the naturalist Richard Mabey visited Horsey Mere and was lucky enough to spot some cranes.

'Cranes are the epitome of wild places, and their return to the Broads is a blessing, a sign that their sense of wilderness hasn't been entirely destroyed. They had come of their own accord, settled where they wanted, and survived without any elaborate protection systems or habitat manipulation. No wonder that across the world, they are regarded as symbols of  good luck, renewal and fertility.'

The crane was once common in England but became extinct in the 17th Century. In1979, cranes re-appeared in the Norfolk Broads and remained through out the winter. The first chick was successfully raised in 1982. At the moment the RSPB predict that there are approximately 100-200 birds in the UK.

Horsey Gap is also one of the most vulnerable sections of the Norfolk coastline. If the sea breaks through the sand dunes here - as it last did in 1953 - then thousands of acres of low lying pasture land could flood. Such a salt water incursion would also be detrimental to bird life and freshwater fish stocks. Here is an anonymous rhyme which encapsulates the sea's threat (via Horsey) on the whole of the Broads system:
When the sea comes in at Horsey Gap
Without any previous warning,
A swan shall build its rushy nest
On the roof of the Swan at Horning.
And a bald headed crow, contented and merry,
Shall feast on the corpses that float by the ferry.


More photographs of Horsey





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