Navigating Norfolk’s hidden creeks and salt marshes – in a 1950s whelk boat

With an ex-Marine at the helm, a new sailing adventure in north Norfolk offers the chance to enter a watery wilderness and get up close to seals and birdlife

We’re sailing across a sandy-coloured sea. Seals pop up around our little crab boat and then vanish, like a game of Whac-A-Mole. Further ahead, a group lie motionless on the water, as if levitating. It takes me a moment to realise that the sea is so shallow they are resting on a submerged sand bank.

The boat’s depth gauge reads 4ft. One false move and we’ll shudder on to the sand. We draw closer to a flat expanse of salt marsh coloured dun and olive. The captain edges us closer and then, as if by magic, marsh opens up. Before us is a secret creek, a portal into another world – limpid water, glistening mud banks, and no sound but the lonely piping of oystercatchers.

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