Horsey Mere

Horsey Mere

Horsey Windpump is a windpump or drainage windmill in the care of the National Trust in the village of Horsey, on The Broads near Great Yarmouth, Norfolk, England. The structure is a grade II* listed building. The present structure was built in 1912 on the foundations of the 18th-century Horsey Black Mill.

The windpump was working until it was struck by lightning in 1943. It was acquired by the National Trust in 1948 from the Buxton Family and has been restored. The mill's damaged sails were removed in 1956, and replacement sails and fantail were installed in 1962. The Great Storm of 1987 caused further damage, and repair works were required before the building could reopen to visitors in 1990.

The Buxton family continue to manage the Horsey estate, emphasising nature conservation. Because of this, the estate has become an internationally important wildlife site. On the estate there are waymarked circular walks, the main one being the path via Brograve Mill; the walk provides great views across Horsey Mere and access to the beach at Horsey Gap. There are many windmills in this particular area, including West Somerton Mill, Heigham Holmes Mill, Brograve Mill, and Lambrigg Mill.

Horsey Windpump is an iconic building with a fascinating past and the perfect gateway to experience the connection between man and nature. Standing sentinel over the mere and surrounding Broadland landscape, a climb to the top is rewarded with beautiful panoramic views of the surrounding countryside an opportunity not to be missed.

Having been closed for extensive repairs and restoration since 2015, the National Trust are proud to be able to reopen this historic building again in 2018. Having been stood still and silent for 75 years since 1943 when she was struck by lightning, she has been brought back to life and is now complete with a winding cap and turning sails bringing a whole new visitor experience to this wonderful Grade II* Listed Building.

On site is also a tea room selling light refreshments, drinks, ice creams and a range of gifts and souvenirs. With outdoor seating available, you can relax and watch the Windpump’s sails go round or the world go by. Indoor seating is also available. Why not fuel up before exploring the surrounding estate or visiting nearby Horsey Beach.

Horsey, where the Broads meet the coast, is unrivalled as a place providing views into this mysterious broadland landscape of Norfolk. This remote location is secluded and famed for its internationally important wildlife, from the over-wintering wildfowl frequenting Horsey Mere to the Swallowtail butterfly, the very essence of a summer on the Broads. A great place for walking and bird watching, throughout the seasons.

Horsey Windpump is a distinctive structure with a fascinating past, which lies next to Horsey Mere. The main brick structure of the present windpump was built in 1912 by Dan England, the famous Ludham millwright, on the foundation of an older windpump which had been known as Horsey Black Mill, so called because its ancient fabric was tarred to keep out the weather.

The old mill suffered a number of accidents culminating in a March gale in 1895 when the whole of the top was blown off into the road after being ‘tail winded’. By early 1912 the damaged structure was in a precarious condition and work started to take it down by hand, brick by brick, to its foundations. In the same year the new tower was constructed, entirely from red bricks sourced locally from Martham and built on the existing foundations and a few courses of the original brickwork can still be seen. The brick work tower was completed in time to deal with the exceptional floods in the summer of 1912.

The vertical shafting was renewed in Scandinavian Pine specially imported for the purpose of transferring the forces required to drive the horizontal pumping shaft at ground level, which along with the machinery is still the original. The teeth of the wooden cog wheels are made of hornbeam. When the pump was in operation the sails would turn at 10 to 12 revolutions per minute (rpm), but in a gale they would often go round at up to 15 rpm.

The purpose of drainage windpumps like this one was to pump water from the dykes, which intersect and drain the land, into the high level system of the broads and tidal waterways. The water pumped at Horsey from the low level system to the high reaches the sea at Great Yarmouth after a course of 23 miles. This watercourse is affected throughout its length by the state of the tide in the North Sea.

At Horsey the maximum lift from at the highest water from marsh level to Mere level is 7 foot. Drainage windpumps like this have always been a prominent feature of the Norfolk Broads and at one time large numbers could be seen at work in every direction. Now practically all these windpumps have been replaced by diesel or electric pumps. Following the construction in 1912 the new windpump was working alongside an auxiliary steam pump, this was then converted in 1939 to diesel power.

** – Horsey Windpump and Estate Walk – **

Experience the Broadland landscape and wealth of wildlife of the National Trust's Horsey Estate. See its Mere, reed-beds, marshes and drainage mills. The National Trust acquired The Horsey Estate in 1948 from the Buxton family, who continue to manage it. 'The Bitterns boomed and Marsh Harriers hawked over Horsey, the caterpillars of the Swallowtail were still to be found on clumps of Milk Parsley' - Sir Peter Scott.

This walk is provided with support from their lessee, the Horsey Estate Trust who manage much of the Horsey Estate, and also with thanks to the Broads Authority and the Broadland Flood Alleviation Project. Suitable for families. Classified as Easy, the walk is four and a half miles and should take about two hours.

Start: National Trust car park, Horsey Windpump.

  • 1. From the car park head back towards the entrance and visit Horsey Staithe Stores (Mar-Nov) for information on the area, a warm welcome and a quick cup of tea or coffee. From the Stores, head to the Staithe and follow the path along the flood bank, adjacent to the car park and around the edge of Horsey Mere.
  • Originally built in 1933 as a village co-operative, the stores were inundated during the last sea flood at Horsey in 1938. Sea water came halfway up the door.
  • 2. At Lady's Hill turn right, heading north follow this new flood-bank, and then turn left towards Waxham Cut.
  • Horsey Mere and surrounding reed beds are a haven for wildlife. The Mere offers superb sailing and fishing whilst in winter a wildfowl refuge operates. The Mere hosts over 5,000 wildfowl, and boat users are asked to avoid the Mere from November to March each year.
  • 3. Where the path rejoins the flood-bank turn right and continue along a large dyke, the Waxham Cut. You will see the derelict Brograve Drainage Mill ahead of you.
  • Brograve Mill is a wind-pump and is approximately 1 mile north of Horsey Mere. It is thought to have last worked around 1930 and was built in 1771 by Sir Berney Brograve. The mill is a Grade II listed building and the earliest surviving tower mill in the Broads.
  • 4. Turn right opposite the mill and leave the flood-bank. Enter a field. Walk along the edge of the field until you reach the stile and a bridge over a dyke. Cross both and continue to the houses at Horsey Corner.
  • 5. When you reach the metalled road turn right, then left between the houses and continue on a narrow path into a field.
  • 6. Continue along the field edge and turn right where the path meets a hedge. Continue on; the path widens and has a hedge either side.
  • 7. The grassy track joins a metalled road (Binsley Close). Continue on past the houses and All Saints' Church, Horsey. Follow the road round to left and continue before turning right and reaching the main road (B1159).
  • All Saints' Church is tucked away in a quiet corner of the village. This thatched church has a Saxon round tower and repays a visit for the unspoilt atmosphere of the interior which is deeply prayerful. All Saints' was re-thatched in 2010; warmly welcomes visitors, and is open daily from dawn until dusk. Take a detour to look at the church if you have the time.
  • 8. Taking care, cross the road and turn left and over a small foot bridge. Go left and walk along the field edge to the field entrance. Turn right and walk down the narrow lane to your right (The Street) looking out for traffic. Continue down The Street past houses, National Trust holiday cottages and the Nelson Head pub and restaurant.
  • Why not stay within walking distance of Horsey Windpump, and the sea on the edge of the Norfolk Broads National Park? These traditional Norfolk buildings have been carefully converted to provide warm and comfortable holiday accommodation of great character. Call 0344 335 1287 for more information.
  • 9. Pass the pub on your left after approx 100m look for a wide grassy path on you right. Follow this path keeping a ditch on your left hand side. Continue and you will see a stile ahead of you. NOTE: the remainder of this walk is via a permissive path provided by the Horsey Estate Trust
  • 10. Cross the stile and turn right. You will see Horsey Windpump ahead. Continue to the main road. Take care crossing the road. Toilets are in the car park. Have a deserved cup of tea/cake at the shop.
  • Standing sentinel over the moorings at the Staithe. The last tower mill built in the Broads in 1912, it offers superb views over Horsey Mere and surrounding countryside and coast. Set within the Broads National Park, the Horsey estate is an internationally important site for wildlife and offers a great spot for bird-watching and wintering wildfowl.
  • End: National Trust car park, Horsey Windpump.
  • ** – Seals – **

    Around half of the world’s population of grey seals are found around Britain, therefore their protection is of international conservation importance. The scientific name Halichoerus grypus means “Hook-nosed Sea Pig”! It is one of our largest mammals but is still vulnerable to disturbance during the pupping season. Grey seals come ashore to breed – the breeding site is known as a rookery or haul-out. The females (cows) arrive at the breeding sites first and will usually give birth a day later. As mammals they feed their pups on their milk for three weeks, keeping a close territory.

    When the males (bulls) arrive they compete for space nearest to the cows. The fittest bulls get the best positions for mating. If pups get disturbed they may move into a bull’s (or other cow’s) territory, where they could get injured or even killed.

    After the pup is weaned (approximately three weeks) the mother will leave. Over the next few weeks the pup will moult its soft white coat for a mottled waterproof one; it will not feed during this time and relies on the fat stored while suckling earlier on. Within 3 weeks the pup will have its adult fur and when it starts to feel hunger will make its way to the sea where it will learn to swim and to feed itself.

    Grey Seal Facts: -

  • •Bulls can grow to over 3m in length and weigh more than 300kg. Cows are much smaller and about half the weight.
  • •The mother’s milk is 60% FAT – the consistency of condensed milk (a bit like our Christmas diet!). Pups put on 2kg of weight PER DAY!
  • •Pups are born with a warm white coat that is not waterproof. When they moult and get their waterproof coat they have to learn to live at sea and teach themselves to catch food.
  • •More than half of the pups born won’t survive their first year.
  • •When they have weaned their pups the females will mate. After a delay the pregnancy will start in time for the mother to give birth at the breeding site next year.
  • If You Visit A Seal Colony, Please Respect These Wild Creatures: -

  • •Stay at least 10 metres from the seals.
  • •Look out for seals in the dunes and give them a wide berth.
  • •Be careful – seals have a nasty bite.
  • •Keep dogs on a lead.
  • •Keep to marked viewing areas and respect the fencing.
  • •Remember grey seals are wild animals and should not be approached.
  • •Respect other visitors.
  • Photographing Wildlife

    There are excellent opportunities for photographers at Horsey whether your interest is in getting pictures of grey or common seals during the winter months, or wild birds, flowers, and butterflies in season. Visitors photographing wildlife at Horsey are reminded that the welfare of the subject is more important than the photograph. Please read Nature Photographers Code of Practice.pdf

    ** – Access And The Terrain At Horsey – **

    Visiting Horsey is a joyous experience at all times of year, but please be aware that when visiting in winter to see seals, the track to the viewing areas is likely to be affected by puddles and can be uneven for people with reduced mobility, or visitors with pushchairs or prams.

    Whereas they welcome all visitors, wheelchair-users should be aware that there are no facilities on the site for people with special needs. Viewing areas are reached by sloping paths with sandy surfaces. Getting to viewing points is likely to be difficult for visitors who rely on a wheel-chair. Seal boat trips to Blakeney Point run from Blakeney and Morston Quays. Some boats are adapted for wheelchair users.

    The metal kissing gate at Horsey Gap car park gives access for wheelchairs and buggies to the main path leading to seal viewing areas (Coast Path) but, because of the nature of the site, there are currently no toilets or other special facilities or easy access on this site for wheelchair users.

    The wind on top of the dunes can be very cold during the winter months, so, particularly for those unable to move around very much, it is wise to wear extra layers of clothing. Winter afternoons are short and darkness comes quickly. The site is unlit. Be prepared – take a torch. They ask you to follow the marked paths. Best views are from an area atop the dunes about 1 and a 1/4 miles (approximately 25 minutes walk) from Horsey Gap car park, which is reached by a flight of wooden steps.

    A smaller viewing area is just 5-10 minutes walk from the car park, reached by a roped sandy/grassy path which ascends the dunes with no steps. This path leads towards a WWII pillbox. After that, the section which rejoins the main path is downhill and quite steep and you might need to check that it is suitable for you before you descend, or you can return by reversing the route. On regaining the main track turn left if you wish to continue your walk to the main viewing area, or right to return to Horsey Gap car park.

    Horsey Windpump Iluuminated

    Horsey Windpump Illuminated

    ** – Visiting – **

    Discover the 'hidden' Norfolk Broads by taking a wildlife boat tour from the Staithe at Horsey Windpump. Ross' Wildlife Boat Trips offers an informal and relaxing boat ride across Horsey Mere with opportunities to see the often rare wildlife that in habits this corner of Norfolk, including Marsh Harriers, Swallowtail Butterflies, Bitterns and Kingfishers. The boat trips run from 1 May to 30 September.

    Leaving from the staithe by Horsey Windpump, enjoy an informal all-weather wildlife trip in the comfort and safety of mv Lady Ann, a traditional wooden Broads built pleasure boat. Your friendly, experienced, local Broads guide knows just where to take you to see some of the unique flora and fauna that have made this part of Norfolk so famous.

    ** – Ross' Wildlife Boat Trips – **

    Ross offers one hour wildlife-watching trips departing regularly from Horsey Staithe. His trips are friendly and informal so you can relax and enjoy a trip into a Broadland landscape largely unchanged since medieval times. Lady Ann can carry up to 12 passengers and well behaved dogs are welcome. Private hire is available for early morning and evening tours during the main season and throughout the off season by arrangement which is ideal for birthdays, family outings, picnics, special interest groups, filming & photography and Clubs & Societies.

    MV Lady Ann.

    The Lady Ann is a classic wooden boat, built in Wroxham. She is stable and perfect for viewing the unique wildlife in all weathers. Learn about the wildlife and history of the Broads while seated in the open-sided saloon and relax during this friendly and informal tour. Lady Ann can carry up to 12 passengers and well behaved dogs.

    What might you see?

    Throughout May-September, weather permitting, you are almost guaranteed to see the stunning marsh harrier. On warm days in May, June and July the very rare swallowtail butterfly is likely to be on show. Whilst there are more than a dozen sites this butterfly may be seen at, for anyone with restricted mobility we probably have the best chances of finding one. In the early season we often see cuckoos. Bitterns boom and sometimes put in an appearance. Horsey is one of the best places to see cranes.

    Access Access to Lady Ann from the car park is via 150m of solid, well-maintained path. Entry to Lady Ann is possible for wheelchairs with the assistance of the skipper to help negotiate a 5" upstand of wood at the transom and to deploy and use a ramp inside the boat. The boat can only carry one wheelchair at a time due to the layout.

    Very occasionally the skipper of the boat is someone with restricted use of his wrists and is therefore unable to assist wheelchairs in boarding. For this reason they advise anyone with restricted mobility to contact them first to ensure they can accommodate them. If you have a mobility scooter there is room to park it where the boat departs from. They regret they are unable to carry such scooters on the boat.

    Parking is available at Horsey Windpump (owned and managed by National Trust) with disabled spaces available. Parking is free for National Trust members and charges apply for non-members.

    One hour wildlife-watching trips depart regularly from Horsey Staithe most days from May to the end of September. You can just turn up on the day as you are unlikely to wait long and there's plenty to do in Horsey, why not grab a hot drink and a tasty snack from the National Trust tea room on site? If you haven't pre-booked, make your way to the departure point at Horsey Staithe and write your name/s down on the booking sheet for the boat trip you want.

    Prices: Adults £8.50, Children £7.00, Family (2+2) £28.00

    You can contact Ross by telephone on 07791 526440 or please text him before 10am on the day.

    ** – Facilities – **


  • • Small shop at the Tea Room, close to windpump.
  • • Light refreshments and ice-creams available at the Tea Room, close to windpump with indoor and outdoor seating.
  • • Parking, 50 yards (pay & display):£2 for up to 2 hours and £4 all day. Free for National Trust members.
  • • Toilets.
  • • Dogs welcome, on leads only.
  • Family

  • • Baby-changing facilities.
  • Accessibility

  • • Separate mobility parking, 50 yards.
  • • Adapted toilet beside car park.
  • • Partly accessible grounds. 400 yards of accessible path leading to viewpoint overlooking Horsey Mere. Seats at regular intervals.
  • • Hearing loop in the tearoom.


    Location : Horsey Windpump, Horsey, Great Yarmouth, Norfolk, NR29 4EF

    Transport: Great Yarmouth (National Rail) 10 miles. Bus routes: 293, 294 and Coastal Clipper 1 to Somerton (2 miles).

    Opening Times : Windpump closed for restoration; Stores 10:00 till 16:00.

    Opening Times : Walks dawn till dusk; Boat trips see above.

    Tickets : Adults £5.60;  Children £2.80;  Boat trips see above..

    Tel: 01493 393450