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29th August 2019

Our social highlight of the summer - Cley Harbour Day - promises to once again be a great event with returning entertainment including Pirate Joe, the Wild Rovers, world famous children's entertainer "Steve Sausage" and walking the plank!  Competitions galore with great food and beverage too, so come join the fun from 4:00 to 8:00pm.


August 2019

Can you set new records this year? Whether you're a paddler, sailor or a rower, this year's racing promises to be bigger and better supported than ever. You have until August 29th to clock up the fastest time you can from the east end of Blakeney Quay to the north end of Cley Quay.  There will be cups for winners of all classes and the overall winner will receive the "coveted" Cley Harbour Racing Cup for 2019. Medallions for all.  This is a "we trust you" event. So you pick when you are going to have a go, have as many goes as you want. Then submit your best time before 7 PM on Cley Harbour Day, Thursday, 29th August.  Times can be sent in via the website “contact us" email - please note if you submit your time on the 29th you must do this in person at the Cley Harbour Day event or we might overlook you!  Prizegiving at Cley Harbour Day.  The classes are as follows:

Rowers: "Fastest pairs", and "Fastest boat" (any number of oars)


Kayaks/canoes: "Fastest junior" (12 or under, pairs or singles), and "Fastest adult" (pairs or singles)

Sailers: Fastest passage.The rules for sailors are a bit more complicated because the course involves sailing in a variety of directions. It's unlikely you will be able to sail the course in one passage. So, you are allowed to sail as far as you can (starting at Blakeney) and use paddles, oars or poles to help if needs be.  When you have got as far as you can, record your time to that point. You are allowed to motor back to that same point on a different day and when weather permits, start sailing again from where you left off. Then simply aggregate your times and let us know.

Go on! Have a go – individually or with chums? Many thanks to both Blakeney Sailing Club and the Coastal Rowing Association Blakeney for your support.


13th December 2019

In the lead up to Christmas please join us for Carols on the Quay, where the Fakenham Town Band accompany Christmas carols, warm food and drink (and cold beer) are on offer, and even Santa makes an appearance!




May 2019

We now have a range of merchandise made exclusively in Cley for the Harbour, including aprons, peg bags, cushions, and small and large bags.  The Cley Harbour logo can also be found on tee shirts, polo shirts, mugs and water bottles.

All these items are available for purchase at the main Cley Harbour events, with a smaller range permanently available from Artemis Barn, adjacent to Artemis Coffee Shop.


May 2019

Cley Harbour underwent further work this month with repairs and an extension to the slipway.  A large group of volunteers helped to extend and clean the slipway, making it much easier to launch boats.  Thanks in particular to all the new volunteers and please contact us via the website if you'd like to participate in future working parties.


March 2019

Norfolk artist Rachel Lockwood has generously donated one of her beautiful oil paintings to raise funds for Cley Harbour.  Entitled "Cloud Study 44", it measures 62.5cm by 71.5cm including the hand made painted frame and can be viewed at Pinkfoot Gallery.

Rachel’s lifelong passion for nature and art has led her through numerous areas of study. She attended the Psalter Lane Art School in Sheffield, then on to Hornsey College of Art, now Middlesex University, to study scientific illustration, which included zoological and medical illustration.  After a successful career painting in London, Rachel spent some time traveling and living abroad before moving to Norfolk. Her work focuses on landscape and natural habitats


October 2018

October was a big month for the small harbour of Cley, when a crowd of over a hundred stood in the shadow of the historic Cley Windmill to welcome in “Salford", a traditional 30ft wooden boat built in nearby King’s Lynn.  The first commercial vessel to enter the harbour in over 60 years, this beautiful former Welker carried a consignment of locally produced beer, sailed over from Wells, and delivered into the eager arms of staff from the Mill. Once a thriving sea-port, Cley saw cargoes of grain, malt, cloth and spices, be both exported to and imported from, Europe.  Centuries of siltation and land reclamation left this beautiful North Norfolk port, for a time one of the busiest ports in the UK, almost completely un-navigable.  Over four years of tireless fundraising and dredging by the Parish Council and local Community has seen the once almost clogged channel, opened up, and ready for business. 


May 2018

We had about 30 people turn up and we basically cleared the banks of the reed growth that was inundating access to the harbour. Cley Harbour was very small. Just 15ft across. That was all that was left of what was once a large harbour.

From there we started thinking about how we were going to raise funds ourselves and decided to look within the village itself and raise a pledge fund. In other words, if we get enough people to agree to give money, we’ll go back to the people that pledged it and say that we need your pennies.

That worked and raised enough to do the initial dredge along the harbour-front, down by the car park area, by Cley Mill. It also got the quay headings back into operation, stuff like that. That first dredge was done in February three years ago.


March, 2016

Cley has a working quay once more, which, from next month, can be used by boats of up to 20ft. 

The transformation from a narrow, silted-up river to an expanse of water with a newly-installed quay heading, has been hailed as a major success story for the village.

“It’s now got a real ‘wow!’ factor - a big open space where boats can moor and turn round,” said Simon Read, Cley parish councillor and co-ordinator of the Cley Harbour volunteer parties which have been doing much of the donkey work.


January, 2015

It was once one of the busiest ports in Europe, a haven for smugglers and pirates and the hub for a thriving trade which saw its grain exports outstrip even those of Norwich.



Past, Present, and Future

Cley was once one of the busiest ports in England, where grain, malt, fish, spices, coal, cloth, barley and oats were exported or imported. The many Flemish gables in the town are a reminder of trade with the Low Countries. But despite its name, Cley has not been "next the sea" since the 17th century, due to land reclamation. Some of the buildings that once lined the quay remain, notably the 18th-century Cley Windmill. 



Cley is a former port left stranded by the receding sea. The Cley Old Harbour Restoration Project has endeavoured to return the quayside harbour to a usable port. 


Cley's early seafaring days were not exactly peaceful ones. By 1317, the harbour was reported to have been "in the grip of organised gangs of pirates". In 1405 Cley seamen, including one Nicholas Steyard, boarded and captured the 'Maryenknight', which was carrying the young Price James of Scotland to France.

In the 15th and 16th centuries, the village overlooked the vast Glaven River Estuary and the marshes were covered at high tide allowing boats to navigate into a harbour close to Cley Church and also up as far as Glandford; as such, Cley was the main port for Holt. 

In 1637 a local landowner, Sir Henry Calthorpe, embarked without consultation upon an ambitious reclamation scheme which involved putting a dam across the river Glaven and enclosing the marshes. It was to have far reaching effects. Although the bank was demolished after two petitions to the king, the damage had been done - the river course had already begun to silt up, effectively putting the wharves below Cley church out of action for good.

In 1649, a series of banks were built to protect the village from flooding but for several historical reasons, the river started to silt up forming an area of outstanding natural beauty and interest.

The village continued to trade, increasingly with the Low Countries (there are many Flemish gables as you walk around the village). However, as the river continued to silt up, international trade declined and coastal trade increased - Cley was a major outlet for the farm produce of north Norfolk. Its success as a grain exporting port led to great resentment in Norwich and the City Fathers even made a complaint to the Privy Council, requesting that its licence to export corn be revoked (it wasn’t). 

The quay was a busy place until the late 1800s, but the rot had set in. An ever-shallowing river, a new coast road and the coming of the railway to Holt in 1884 all contributed to Cley’s demise as a port.

Traces of the old quay remain along the narrow Cley Channel, dominated by a fabulous windmill dating from 1713 which is now a guesthouse.

The Customs House closed in 1853 and the inexorable silting of the channel meant that generally cargoes destined for Cley had to be transhipped into lighters out in the Pit and then wanted or towed up to Cley. Even that had ceased by WWI . Since then it has been pleasure boats only.



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