Head for the open skies of North Norfolk, clean fresh air and real countryside when you stay in an Original Cottages property for a self-catering staycation. Towns and villages such as Brancaster, Burnham Market, Cromer, Docking and Dersingham all have charm and timeless appeal. Who knows you might even spot a Royal at large: this region is not so far from Sandringham and Anmer Hall, homes much loved by the Queen and the Cambridges.
Think foodie heaven here, glorious wide open tidal beaches, marshes, extensive migrating birds, seals and acres of walking along Peddars Way and the Norfolk Coast Path. And if you get a little beneath the surface, there are many cultural experiences to enjoy: the county is replete with artists, musicians and writers.
Here’s our pick of what to do when you’re there.
Walk to the sea at Burnham Overy Staithe
It’s a bracing mile walk along a ridge with ever-changing landscapes on each side and is well worth the effort when you get to the deserted white sand beach. Take a swimming costume for a quick dip – there’s even a naturist beach further along the coast. Or take the ferry to Scolt Head Island which is popular with Will and Kate. It really a desert island, a small paradise of sand dunes, salt marsh, mud flats, and shingle, internationally important as a breeding ground for terns.
Visit Houghton Hall
Open Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday afternoons and Bank Holidays. The Hall celebrates its 300th anniversary this year and you can soak up its history through a tour of the house, with its extensive and excellent art collection. Outside gardeners will delight in the stunning walled gardens and there’s sculpture park to wander in too. As in all English country houses, delicious food is found in the Stable Restaurant. It’s an incredible place and well worth a visit. Visit their website.
For fish and chips don’t miss Wells-next-the-Sea
We recommend eating them on the harbourside, although watch for seagulls! They love chips. Wells has loads of character, so it can get busy in the peak of summer. It offers quirky shopping and a glorious beach, where you might be lucky and be able to rent a beach hut for a week. If you’re not keen on walking or less mobile, you take the tourist train to the beach from the village centre.
Burnham Market is best for trendy shopping
And known locally as Chelsea on Sea. It has a touch of the Kings Road about it, and certainly attracts the beautiful people. For a seafood treat the Hoste Arms really is the place, be sure to book. That said, an hour or two can be happily spent at The Braze Head Bookshop & Gallery which seems to stock almost every book (second hand) ever printed in English.
Holkham Hall is another beautiful stately home
Surrounded by landscaped gardens, with a pioneering and sustainable rural estate. Home to the Earls of Leicester since the 1700s, it is steeped in history and stories. It is home to a magnificent walled garden, has acres to wander in, an imaginative children’s play zone and a couple of eateries for tea and scones or something more. It’s also handy for a walk to the beach at Holkham across the road. Visit their website.
Fakenham Market for an interesting bargain
Perhaps not the most beautiful town, but it has a great market in the square every Thursday morning with a fascinating live auction which is definitely worth a visit. You can pick up all kinds of house clearance items for a song! Also the local racecourse has big meetings in the season as well as local point-to-point events which are always great fun. Why not place a bet or two while you eye up the form in the paddock?
There’s no need to cook in North Norfolk
There is superb pub food everywhere. The dining here is generally first rate. Try the Jolly Sailors in Brancaster for mussel & chips, and the newly renovated Sculthorpe Mill with a stunning garden by the River Wensum and a great Sunday roast. You are really spoilt for choice across the whole region, the farm (and sea) to fork movement is very evident with local produce featuring widely.