Windmills as far as the eye can see
You can’t drive very far in Norfolk without seeing a windmill. At times they dominate the flat landscape. The comprehensive Norfolk Mills website has information on over 1,000 mills with over 3,000 photographs. Despite those numbers very few water mills and windmills survive. Horsey Mill which isn't far from Winterton is a great example of a drainage mill which was part of a network designed to drain the surrounding marshland for farming.
The five-storey windmill at Horsey (left) is set within the Broads National Park, and is run by the National Trust. The current mill was built in 1912 with red bricks sourced locally from the nearby village of Martham. It’s well worth a visit to find out more about how the mills worked and helped control the water levels for the surrounding farmland. You can climb to the top of the tower for spectacular views of the surrounding area. At the moment the mill is without it’s sails, which have been removed for repairs, but they should hopefully be back on soon after extensive restoration work. Apparently Horsey used to be a hotbed of smuggling, and the sails of windmills were used for signalling by placing them in a certain position in order to warn of approaching customs and excise men.
There’s a small shop and café at Horsey Mill, as well as a good size car park which is a good base for a walk which passes another iconic Norfolk Mill. The hauntingly beautiful Brograve Mill (right) is also constructed from red bricks and was built in 1771, but is now derelict after it was last used in 1930. The five mile circular walk also takes you down on to the beach where you will probably see seals – definitely in the winter. And depending on how you plan your route you could do a little diversion on the way there or back to the Horsey Nelson pub which serves very good food.
Finally, Winterton used to have a mill too (pictured left after it was destroyed in a storm), which was located just outside Winterton on the S bend in the road leading to Hemsby. It was built in 1700 and according to records it was a huge post mill with sails so big that they swung over the heads of passers by in the road below. It was used to grind grain from neighbouring farmland, and the miller also sold flour and corn for chicken feed. In 1902 the mill was run by my great great grandfather and his son, however that year the mill was almost completely destroyed by a huge storm and was never rebuilt.
Other windmills you can visit nearby in Norfolk include:
Stow Mill at Paston near Mundesley. Combine this with a walk on Mundesley beach and lunch at the beach cafe.
Although not open to visitors, you can stay at the iconic Cley Windmill in North Norfolk or simply admire it from across the marshes. Why not make a day of it and visit nearby Blakeney too.
Sutton Mill is Britain's tallest windmill and is just outside Stalham which isn't that far from Winterton. You can enjoy superb views of the surrounding country and coastline from the top outside viewing gallery. Also nearby is Sutton Pottery.
A big thank you to Stephen Mole Photography for those wonderful images of Horsey Mill and Brograve Mill.