This travel guide is brought to you by National Geographic Traveller UK.
Welcome to North Norfolk, a timeless escape that has beckoned travelers since the 1700s. Here, you’ll discover a tranquil oasis where the natural beauty isn’t overwhelming but instead, a gentle tonic for the soul. From expansive beaches to endless skies, fenlands, and the watery network of the Broads, North Norfolk is a place where you can easily forget the hustle and bustle of life beyond this hidden gem in East Anglia.
Day One: Beaches & Bikes
Morning: Start your adventure at Holkham Hall, the region’s most famous stately home. Explore its 25,000-acre estate on two wheels by renting a bicycle or e-bike. Follow one of the signposted trails, like the scenic six-mile red route, which takes you through charming spots like the Church of St Withburga and the Walled Garden, all the way up to the neo-classical Temple hidden in the woodland. Inside the hall, immerse yourself in the history of this 18th-century home with stories about its tapestries, paintings, and furniture. Then, savor local cuisine at The Victoria, showcasing ingredients from the Walled Garden and nearby farms.
Afternoon: Wells-next-the-Sea, an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, beckons with its stunning beach and colorful beach huts. Spend your afternoon lounging on the soft sands or strolling along the shoreline to the dunes adorned with beach grass and gorse. Keep an eye out for rare birds like pied avocets and marsh harriers in the marshes. Afterward, enjoy coffee and cake at the Beach Café.
Evening: For a magical sunset experience, head to Sheringham Park, a thousand-acre National Trust site. Take the Repton route to a gazebo, where you’ll be rewarded with breathtaking views of pastures, woodlands, and the shimmering North Sea. Conclude your day with a delightful meal at The Gunton Arms, where you might even spot deer roaming in the surrounding park.
Day Two: Seals & Stars
Morning: Set sail from Blakeney Point, home to England’s largest colony of grey seals. Join Beans Boats for an hour-long seal trip departing from Blakeney Harbour at Morston. Enjoy the scenic views of Blakeney Freshes and salt marshes, where you might even spot samphire, a Norfolk delicacy. Keep your camera ready as curious seals often approach the boat. Learn about the area’s history, wildlife, and seals from the informative commentary on board.
Afternoon: Explore Cromer, a quintessential English seaside town perched on a cliff overlooking the North Sea. Stroll along the seafront, visit the Bagot goats on the cliffs, and try your hand at crabbing from the pier. While you must release the crabs you catch, Cromer offers plenty of restaurants serving fresh crab dishes.
Evening: North Norfolk is a haven for stargazers, with the possibility of spotting the elusive Aurora Borealis on clear nights. Discover the UK’s Dark Sky Discovery Sites at Kelling Heath Holiday Park and Wiveton Downs Site of Special Scientific Interest. Join stargazing parties or navigate the night sky using their “starchart guide.”
Windmills: Explore Norfolk’s landscape dotted with windmills, including Bircham Windmill, one of the few working mills open to the public. You can even book a climb up the tower or participate in a bread-baking session.
Outdoor Destinations: Don’t miss the Norfolk Coast Path for scenic walks, the Deep History Coast to uncover prehistoric treasures, and the Norfolk Broads for water-based activities and wildlife.
Heritage Railways: Experience the nostalgia of heritage railways in North Norfolk, such as the North Norfolk Railway, Whitwell and Reepham Railway Station, and the Wells & Walsingham Light Railway.
Top Five Places to Eat:
The Gunton Arms: Enjoy locally sourced dishes, including venison and Angus sirloin steaks, cooked over an open fire.
The Morston Anchor: This traditional village pub offers line-caught fish and chips, perfect after a seal trip.
Wells Crab House: Sample the best seafood, from oysters to lobster, in an intimate restaurant with just 11 tables.
Crab Pot Café: Savor freshly caught crab served dressed, on a platter, or in sandwiches.
Meadowsweet: For a special occasion, dine at Holt’s Michelin-starred restaurant, showcasing local produce in creative dishes.
Plan Your Trip:
- The best way to explore North Norfolk is by car. Alternatively, take the train to Norwich and then catch a local service to Cromer or Sheringham.
- Regional bus services like CoastLiner and CoastHopper connect Norfolk destinations.
- Accommodation: The Gunton Arms offers elegant guest rooms starting from £120 per night, including breakfast.
Don’t miss out on this enchanting North Norfolk experience, where history, nature, and relaxation converge. Plan your getaway today and discover the hidden treasures of this remarkable region.
This travel guide is brought to you with the support of The Gunton Arms and Visit East of England.
Published in the October 2023 issue of National Geographic Traveller (UK).
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Norfolk Getaway
Q: Is North Norfolk suitable for a weekend getaway year-round?
A: Yes, North Norfolk offers something special in every season. From beach trips in the summer to seal watching in winter, it’s a year-round destination.
Q: What are the must-visit attractions for nature enthusiasts in North Norfolk?
A: Nature lovers should explore the Norfolk Coast Path, visit Blakeney Point for seal watching, and stargaze at recognized Dark Sky Discovery Sites.
Q: Are there options for family-friendly activities in Cromer?
A: Absolutely! Cromer offers a fun-filled experience for families, including exploring the pier, watching end-of-the-pier shows, and trying crabbing from the pier.
Q: Can I easily access North Norfolk by public transportation?
A: Yes, you can take a train to Norwich and then catch a local service to Cromer or Sheringham. Regional bus services like CoastLiner and CoastHopper connect various Norfolk destinations.
Q: What’s the best way to explore North Norfolk’s heritage railways?
A: You can enjoy a nostalgic journey on heritage railways like the North Norfolk Railway, Whitwell and Reepham Railway Station, and the Wells & Walsingham Light Railway, each offering its unique charm.
Q: Are there accommodation options mentioned in the guide?
A: Yes, The Gunton Arms, a recommended place to stay, offers elegant guest rooms starting from £120 per night, including breakfast.
Q: Can I enjoy local cuisine in North Norfolk?
A: Absolutely! North Norfolk boasts several fantastic eateries, serving dishes made from locally sourced ingredients, including seafood, meats, and more.