Exploring North Norfolk
North Norfolk is famous for its open countryside and big skies. Sparsely populated and largely unspoilt,
its characteristic brick-and-flint villages are surrounded by miles of working farm land. Most of the coastline from the Wash to beyond Cromer
is a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, its unique saltmarsh habitat providing a haven for wildlife as well as spectacular walks, sailing and scenery.
The area has long been popular with holiday makers and is well served by good restaurants and pubs and
offers endless opportunities for visitors, from quiet relaxation to traditional seaside fun.
Being a little inland, Holly Lodge has the advantage of being away from the hustle and
bustle of the fashionable hotspots on the coast during the Summer while being no real distance from them... you can
easily pop up to the coast (five miles away) or stay inland to enjoy some of the uncrowded tranquility that really characterises the area.
We are also perfectly placed for the great historic houses of Blickling, Holkham, Sandringham and Felbrigg,
with Norwich just an hour away.
The local area is criss-crossed by quiet lanes, farm tracks and paths. We have marked some of our favourite walks
on maps for you to take out and explore the countryside with.
A short drive away, the Norfolk Coastal Path runs from Hunstanton to Cromer mostly along the edge of the
marshes and beaches. The section from Burnham Overy Staithe across Holkham Beach to Wells and perhaps back through the
pine woods is probably the most popular (park at Wells Beach or on Lady Anne's Drive just North of the Holkham Estate).
For the more serious walker, the Peddar's Way runs all the way from Knettishall Heath Country Park in Suffolk up to join
the coast path at Holme. Much of the route is relentlessly straight having once been a major Roman Road.
Other good walks are Sheringham Park (for a full trip, climb the Gazebo viewing tower
then cross the Coast Road to join the coast path into Sheringham then hop on the steam train back to Weybourne and walk
back into the park), Blickling Hall, Felbrigg Hall, out to Blakeney Point to see the seals.
North Norfolk's coastal estuaries, creeks and harbours are shallow, tidal and on occasions tricky... but
immensely rewarding for enthusiastic sailors, particularly at Brancaster, Burnham Overy Staithe, Wells and Blakeney.
Charlie Ward's boatyard at Morston which makes superb hand-built sailing craft is also home to Juno, a large sailing
barge that offers memorable trips during the summer. For lessons, there are sailing schools at Blakeney and Brancaster.
The classic 'must-do' North Norfolk trip (don't let that put you off) is a visit to the
500-strong colony of wild seals on Blakeney Point. The dedicated can walk but the best way is on one of
the seal trip boats that run each day on the tide from Morston or Blakeney quay... it's a lovely,
sheltered trip and the seals are so used to the boats that you can get very close. Tickets can be purchased
on the quayside or at the Anchor Pub in Morston but it's best to book in advance. Try Temple's (01263 740791),
Beans Boat Trips (01263 740505) or Bishop's Boats (01263 740753).
More extensive coastal tours using fast boats are sometimes available from Wells.
Norfolk is great for cycling; it's relatively (but not completely) flat and has a multitude of
quiet lanes and paths. Traffic is easily avoided if you stay off the main roads or indeed off the roads completely.
A good starting point is a gentle three miles to Walsingham where, co-incidentally, National Cycle Route No. 1
passes on its way from Wells to meet the Marriotts Way, a railway track-bed that runs traffic-free all the way
We've usually got a couple of bikes available to borrow... if you'd like a go, please ask.
North Norfolk is top bird-watching territory with a huge and ever-changing range of migrant and wading
birds. Twitchers from all over the country visit in large numbers often equipped with huge quantities of equipment
including telescopes, binoculars and radio pagers but almost anyone can join in for an hour or two with a cheap pair
of binoculars and a bird book. Good places to start are the world-renowned reserves at Cley and Titchwell or the
George Washington Hide at Holkham where there's usually plenty to see and often some friendly help on hand if you
ask nicely... but you will see a wide variety of birds almost anywhere in the area, including avocets, woodpeckers,
marsh harriers and Barn owls.
If you would like a guide for birdwatching, there is none better than Chris Mills at www.norfolkbirding.com.
There are some excellent links courses nearby at Brancaster, Hunstanton, Sheringham
and Cromer (Brancaster can be harder for visitors to get onto, particularly in Summer and at weekends). Nearest to Holly
Lodge is a very decent 9-hole course at Fakenham Race Course and a fun-to-play
9 hole course at West Runton. It's always best to phone the clubs first before setting out. For those that will seize up without daily
exercise, there's an excellent new gym and leisure facility in Fakenham and Jeremy can give plenty of tips on running routes right outside Holly Lodge's front-door!
There's no shortage of local attractions for a day out or visit. The Thursford Collection, right on our doorstep, is a
unique assembly of steam-powered traction engines, organs and fairground rides. It's also the unlikely venue every year for the
hugely popular Thursford Chistmas Spectacular Shows which attract audiences from across the UK. On the subject of steam, there
is also the North Norfolk Railway from Sheringham to Holt, the
Wells and Walsingham Light Railway (the longest 10¼"
gauge railway in the world) and the spectacular Bure Valley Railway (which usefully takes you to Coltishall or Wroxham
for a glimpse of the Norfolk Broads). Just outside Weybourne, the Muckleburgh Collection is an unrivalled private
collection of tanks and military hardware on an old army training base and well worth a visit. The Museum of Norfolk Life
at Gressenhall is around 12 miles away in a former workhouse with a working 1920s farm.
Historic sites include the big estates and stately homes at Holkham,
Felbrigg not to mention the Queen's Norfolk retreat at
Sandringham. Somewhat less grand
but worth investigating are the working windmill at Great Bircham and the
restored water mill at Letheringsett as well as historic ruins at Walsingham, Binham, North Creake and Warham Camp. The city of Norwich with its spectacular cathedral as
well as good shopping is about 40 minutes drive away.
Twenty years ago, eating out in Norfolk was not something you would have done for pleasure but
we're now blessed with a multitude of excellent places to eat. Some local suggestions are The Crawfish
(1 mile), a converted pub serving terrific Thai food, The White Horse at East Barsham (4 miles), The Norfolk Riddle and
The Black Lion in Walsingham (3 miles), the Three Horseshoes in Warham (4 miles),
the Chequers at Binham (4 miles) and the Kings Head, in Letheringsett (5 miles).
Bigger names in the area include The Crown in Wells, the Victoria at Holkham, Morston Hall
and the excellent fish restaurant The Moorings in Blakeney.
We'd also have to mention The Wiveton Bell, the Dun Cow at Salthouse and The Hunny Bell as some of our favourite pubs.