One of the most rewarding parts of running Oaktree Cottage is reading your comments in the Visitor’s Book. One thing that crops up again and again though is that you just don’t have enough time to fit everything in, so when a recent ‘booker’ asked for some suggestions, I really had to think hard about what were the unmissable ‘best of the best’ attractions.
Of course some of this will depend on what you want out of a holiday, but it does come from an ex-local!
Houses and Gardens:
Blickling Hall – Fantastic Jacobean house (owned by the parents of Anne Boleyn), amazing formal gardens, and extensive parkland. If you’re an NT member then this is probably the one for you.
Holkham Hall – Equally impressive, but in the starker Palladian style. It is still owned and run by the Coke family who built it, and the deer park, lake, and bygone museum all add to a full day out.
Alternatives – Sandrinham, Felbrigg, Bressingham.
For expansive sandy beaches, with dunes and woods to explore, then Wells and Holkham are hard to beat. Wells was used for the aerial shots at the start of Kingdom, and Holkham for the closing scene of Shakespare In Love.
If the wind is from the east, then Hunstanton is the place to go (as if faces west), or to escape the crowds then Weybourne, Salthouse, Cley, or Kelling fit the bill nicely.
Three suggestions here:
i) Park at the Bure Valley Railway in Aylsham, and join a Boat Train trip. You will be pulled by narrow-gauge steam train along the Bure river valley to Wroxham, where there is a 10 minute walk to your Broads Cruise boat. Leave enough time to explore Wroxham before your return trip to experience Roys of Wroxham – the largest ‘village store’ in the world.
ii) Make you way to Wroxham by road or rail, and hire a self-drive boat for the day, and explore the Broads at your own pace. Don’t forget your picnic!
iii) Explore some of the quieter and wilder parts of the broads, either on foot or by canoe. Ranworth Broad nature reserve, the Barton Broad Boardwalk, or a guided canoe trip from The Canoe Man are all options.
Again, you could easily spend more than a day, but don’t miss the Cathedral, Tombland (the area around the cathedral gates), Elm Hill, Bridewell Alley musesum, the Castle museum, or the Royal Arcade (the Victorian’s take on the shopping mall)
Seal Trip & Coastal Villages
Plan you day around the tides, as the seal trips operate for a few hours around high-tide. Before or after your seal trip from Morston, explore the villages from Wells to Weybourne. Wells and Blakeney are the busiest towns with shops ranging from bucket & spade emporiums to studio/art galleries. Frenches chippie in Wells is one of the best in the region, and the fresh fish stall in the harbour car park takes some beating too. Other highlights along this stretch include the North Norfolk Wildlife Trust centre / café at Cley which has fantastic views out over the marshes. There is also a remote controlled camera (in the old visitors centre behind) as well as telescopes, so you can see close-up what’s happening out on the marsh.
If you like antiques or interior décor, then stop off at the lamp shop in Stiffkey – you’ll not find a wider range of vintage or antique lighting anywhere.
Finally Weybourne is great for a stroll along the cliff top or beach. If you set off along the cliffs heading away from the car park for about 20-30 minutes, the cliffs come back down to beach level, so you can return along the beach.
For the Family
While all of the above have interest for all ages, a day at Bewilderwood, the Dinosaur Adventure Park, Wroxham Barns, or Amazona Zoo would certainly make for a great day out for younger visitors. Again you won’t get the all done in a day, so you’ll have to take your pick!
For the ‘Older Childen’
OK – maybe more for the boys (of all ages!).
The North Norfolk Railway is in my mind the best of the local heritage railways. All stations are open to look around, with Sheringham and Weybourne providing the most interest. The foot bridge over the track at Weybourne is a great spot for taking photos too.
The Muckleburgh Collection at Weybourne has one of the biggest collections of vintage military vehicles in the UK, and also runs tank demonstrations through the main holiday season.
Finally, the Thursford Collection has a good collection of steam engines, musical organs (with regular Wurlitzer demonstrations), and fairground rides.
You will find plenty of other suggestions on our website, but I think that once you start looking, your challenge (like mine) will be to prioritise your ‘best of the best’, rather than scratching round for things to do…
Tell us if we’ve missed your favourite!