North Norfolk is a place of coastline, market towns and wide open landscapes. Its is only a couple of hours from Nottingham, so makes a perfect few days getaway location. We stayed at a small self catering cottage attached to the owners own home on the outskirts of North Runcton near King Lynn in north Norfolk. It was peaceful, quiet and who can resist some pretty bunting?
We headed into Kings Lynn, somewhere we had only ever been through and never explored, and I was pleasantly surprised! The old town near the docks are a maze of historic buildings, that from the old quayside to market town to the Minster. It seems incompletely at odds with the newer half of the town near the bus station.
After a quick lunch, we got back in the car and drove out to Snettisham Deer Park. They have something quite unique- a deer safari! Not quite the Serengeti, but you are driven through gorgeous fields until you enter the paddock of native red deer. They drive around the small lake and the deer actually swim through water to get to the food we have all been given by the highly entertaining guide. Deer slobber. A lot. A thorough wash, not only of hands, but of feet and legs were required afterwards, but they were surprisingly gentle for such large beasts. They also have a barn with animals in, with lamb bottle feeding for the kids and some of the fluffiest sheep I have ever seen. We finished off the day with a visit to Snettisham beach, which is more pebble than sand, but lovely none the less.
On past visits to Norfolk we have stayed near the picturesque town of Holt, and decided to re-visit. Something about Holt always reminds me of The Cotswolds, without the streams. Maybe its the honey coloured stone of the buildings or the fact it looks like it would cost an arm and a leg to live there. We had the most delicious lunch in Byfords Cafe before walking around the shops, quaint alleyways and treating ourselves to an ice-cream.
As the weather was really hotting up, a walk through a wooded nature reserve seemed a good idea for the afternoon. Sculthorpe Moor is run by the Hawk and Owl Trust and has woodland, fen and reed bed habitats all fully accessible by boardwalk. It is a peaceful place, full of dragonflies, frogs and birdsong. I think the heat of the day meant most wildlife seemed to be seeking shade but I did see a hare! The visitor centre has a small glass cage in one corner which is home to harvest mice! They breed them to release back onto the reserve. They are so tiny, quick and curious. I could have spent all afternoon watching them. How the volunteers who staff the centre get any work done with those cuties in the room is beyond me.
Day three started out clear, warm and sunny, and it just got hotter and hotter! We wanted to go on a boat trip to see the seal colony on Blakeney point and managed to book with Beans Boat Trips for the 4 0’clock sailing. That gave us time to explore first.
The Norfolk Lavender Centre is part garden centre, part gift shop part gardens, with an excellent restaurant and a small farm thrown in for good measure. Ooh and a lovely farm shop! They specialise in lavender unsurprisingly, and although we have just missed the main flowering, some varieties grown their were still holding on to their blooms. The cafe has an excellent range of lavender flavoured delicacies- the lavender scone just HAS to be done! The main seaside town on the North Norfolk coast is undoubtedly Hunstanton. But go past the sea life centre and mini golf and you will fine Old Hunstanton and its glorious beach. Norfolk is known for the wide expanses of sand but Old Hunstanton just ticks all the boxes, including fabulous beach huts nestled among the sand dunes.
After lunch and a pit stop for ice-cream in Blakeney we headed to Morston Quay to catch our boat! We were taken out around the point to the colony and you get remarkably close! They didn’t seem at all bothered by all these boats sailing back and forth in front of them. I then took the option of getting of the boat for a 30 minute stop on Blakeney Point itself, a national nature reserve run by the National Trust. It was a lovely walk along the shingle to the old lifeboat house (and toilets, vitally important!) complete with deckchairs. It feels oddly remote, like a small Scotttish island rather than Norfolk. After being picked up again by the boat we drove to Wells-next-the-Sea. After struggling with a car parking situation even my Mum’s disabled badge couldn’t solve, we walked along the front in search of food. There is really only one cuisine to be eaten in Wells; seafood. We found a seafront restaurant and sat down to enjoy our fish and chips as the sun set.
Despite a slightly misty start, our last day promised to be just as hot and sunny, so with our shorts, suncream and hats at the ready we headed to Blickling Estate. Run by the National Trust, Blickling is a magnificent house surrounded by parkland and gardens. We didn’t think we had been on any previous visits to Norfolk, but as soon as we saw the building at the end of the path, there was no mistaking that we had! Last time, we ventured around the gardens but not the hall, and a project to restore the walled garden had begun since our last trip, so there was plenty left to explore.
The house itself was fascinating, and the National Trust volunteer room guides were as knowledgeable as ever on its history. When walking around these places, you know a huge amount of conservation work must occur, but you rarely get to see it. But in the library, they had two book conservation experts repairing damage right there in the room. It was utterly captivating to watch. They also play host to a sewing group that recreate costumes for display and for the guides to wear. They use pictures and descriptions to reconstruct garments from throughout the history of the estate. Again, it was wonderful to see their sketchbooks and works in progress, rather than it all be hidden behind closed doors.
At this point we decided it was just too hot to wander around the gardens, so got back in the car and found Overstrand beach. Just outside Cromer this is a little gem of beach, although it does have a rather steep slope down from the cliff top, that my Mum decided was just too perilous. As with Old Hunstanton, the beach was lovely and sandy and I couldn’t resist getting my toes wet. Avoiding the bustle of Cromer, we aimed for Sheringham to grab something to eat. The town was preparing fora 1940’s weekend, and was decked out in bunting for the occasion! We found a pub right on the seafront, complete with locals at the bar that sounded like a Two Ronnies sketch. It was a beautiful evening so we walked along the front watching the birds.
We were incredibly lucky with the weather, it was insanely nice for the time of year! I mean, shorts and vest top weather in the UK, in September?! Sunshine aside, North Norfolk is great if you love wildlife, nature, food and boutique shopping. Its a place for wandering, dipping your toes in the sea, drinking tea and eating scones. Perfect.
***Disclaimer: All opinions are my own, I wasn’t paid, sponsored or asked to provide reviews of any places mentioned. Contain NO affiliate links.***