Category Archives: In The Area

What’s going on in the local area

Gone Crabbing!

Like most webmasters, I keep an eye on how people arrive at our site, and one of the most common queries relates to crab fishing.  So, as they say, by popular demand, a bit more information on the subject!

Why go crabbing?
Well for a start you’re not going to catch your supper, but crabbing is a great activity for the kids for a number of reasons:
-Go to the right spot and use the right bait, and you will get results!
-…and get them before the boredom creeps in.
-Crabs are also pretty alien looking, so you also get the Urgh! factor that kids love!

So where are the right spots?
Since crab lines just dangle from a reel, you need somewhere with vertical access to deepish water.  Two top spots for this in North Norfolk are Wells harbour (when the tide is in), or Cromer Pier at any state of the tide.

…And the best bait?
Crabs find their food by smell, so in short, smelly food!  When I’ve been out on the crab boats, fish which is ‘less than fresh’ shall we say, seems to be the favourite.  But for crabbing from the pier or harbour, raw bacon or fish is a good bet.  If you’re planning on enjoying a cooked breakfast at the cottage, then put some of the bacon rind aside first.

What equipment do you need?
If you are staying at the Oaktree Cottage, you should find all you need in the shed.  Basically you need a bucket (to keep your catch alive in sea water until you release them), and some crab lines.  The lines need a means of attaching the bait in a way that the crabs can’t just grab it and run – so a small mesh bag is ideal.

And isn’t it cruel?
Uniquely for fishing, you won’t catch a crab that doesn’t want to be caught!  Crab lines use no hooks, and do not trap the crabs in any way.  The way that you catch them is that the crabs get hold of the bait, and then don’t want to let go as you reel them in.

So if you’re on holiday in the area, why not have a go at reeling in a Cromer crab?

The Three Horseshoes in Briston

After about a year with only one pub, Briston is soon to see the re-opening of The Three Horseshoes.
The Stracey Inn, which closed in the late summer of 2010, is now reverting to its original name, and opening under new management.
The Three Horseshoes is a lovely building dating back to the 17th century, although there has reputedly been a pub on the site since the 15th century, making it one of the oldest in North Norfolk.
So, although we are not exactly lacking in places for a meal out from Oaktree Cottage (the Hunny Bell and The Pigs both offer excellent pub grub at reasonable prices) it will be great to have another option, especially as it is less than a 5 minute walk from the cottage.  After all, it’s nice not to have to self-cater on a self-catering holiday!

The Black Prince Arrives

The North Norfolk Railway (NNR), operating from Holt to Sheringham (approx 15 minutes from Oaktree Cottage), has recently taken delivery of the Black Prince, which will run on the line for at least two years.

The locomotive is on long-term loan from the Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railway (G/WR), after they suffered from a collapsed embankment, and will be raising funds for the G/WR as well as for its owner’s charity, the David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation.

The engine is the most powerful steam locomotive in Britain, and makes short work of the 1 in 80 incline between Holt and Weybourne.  It certainly makes all the right noises, and can be heard around the towns & villages along the length of the line.

The Black Prince at Weybourne on the North Norfolk Railway

The Black Prince at Weybourne on the North Norfolk Railway

For more information on the North Norfolk Railway, and for other similar attractions close to Oaktree Cottage, check out our Rail & Steam attractions pages.

Flying the (blue) flag.

Perhaps you only have to take a walk along one of the many local beaches and smell the freshness of the sea air to know that the beaches are clean and safe, but it’s always nice to have that officially recognised.

In the 2011 Blue Flag awards, Cromer, Sheringham, Hunstanton and Sea Palling have all been recognised for their water quality and litter-free beaches.

So what about the rest?  The blue flag requires beaches to have facilities that are appropriate to resorts rather than many of the wilder beaches (lifesavers, restrooms, recycling facilities etc.).

However, since the Blue Flag beaches are spread all the way across the North Norfolk coast, it does show that the water is clean.

Wild about North Norfolk

There are many formal wildlife attractions in and around North Norfolk, from the bird reserves such as Pensthorpe and Cley, to the seal trips from Morston and Blakeney, but you are also likely to encounter plenty of variety just while getting around the countryside.

If you keep your eyes peeled around the fields and woodland early in the morning or evening, you will most likely spot red deer, muntjak, or Chinese water deer.  Along country lanes and fields keep an eye out for hares – which whilst once once quite rare, are now becoming much more abundant.

Other recent ‘spots’ include a barn owl – resting in a tree during a daylight hunting foray, and a sparrow hawk, making a breif but acrobatically spectacular visit to the garden of the cottage.

Fun, Food, and Fishing for Crabs! – The Cromer Crab and Lobster Festival

Since the railways first connected the fishing village of Cromer with London, Cromer crab has been famous for its quality.

Last year’s inaugural Crab and Lobster Festival in Cromer and Sheringham was so successful, that this year it is back, and bigger.

The focus of the festival is over the weekend of 20-22nd May, when there will art trails, cookery demonstrations and tastings, live music, a classic car rally, a beer and cider festival, and the second World Pier Crabbing Championship!

The festival then continues with a month-long restaurant trail with a firm seafood focus.

Book your stay now, and, who knows, you could be the next world pier crabbing champion…

May – Time to Stody

One of our grandest neighbours has to be the Stody Estate, which manages the adjacent farmland and woodland.

However, throughout May, the estate takes on a very different importance, as this is when the gardens (10 minute walk from the cottage) are open to the public.  The gardens were created in the 1930s and are one of the foremost Rhododendron and Azalea gardens in the country, and also incorporate a spectacular Japanese water garden.

The gardens are open every Sunday throughout May, as well as the May Bank Holiday (30th).  If you are planning a self-catering holiday in the spring, check out the Stody Estate Gardens and if you are a fan of country house gardens it should feature on your itinerary!

Icelandic Invaders

Unless you have had your eyes to the ground in recent weeks, you will have seen the distinctive ‘V’ formations of migrating geese in the skies.

The pink-footed geese, in their tens of thousands migrate from Iceland and Greenland each year for the milder climate of East Anglia.  While the birds are not especially pretty on an individual basis, seeing a whole flock at take-off, or flying in multiple ‘V’ formations is certainly a seasonal spectacle that is worth seeking out.

Great places to see them up close at the moment include Pensthorpe (see the floodlit feeds from the comfort of the heated hides!) and Holkham.

Thursford Christmas Spectacular

Whilst not as famous as Glastonbury, the Thursford Christmas Spectacular brings in as many visitors each year from all over the country.
Even though it’s too late to get tickets for this year’s show, if you are planning to be in the area next year then think about booking now.

To give an idea of what to expect, this year’s show has a budget of £3 million, a cast of more than 100, including dancing penguins and a forest of Christmas trees – with costumes alone costing more than £250,000.

If you are planning to take a Norfolk self-catering holiday in November or December next year, then add this to your to-do list…

Holt Christmas Lights & Late Night Opening

If you are in the area over Christmas, be sure to go into Holt, ideally around dusk, to check out the lights.  This year they were turned on by Jake Humphrey of BBC Formula One fame.

The lights are better seen than described, but consist of thousands of white fairy lights tracing the rooflines, gables, and windows of the town’s many Georgian buildings.

If you can make it into Holt on 15th December, you will also be able to enjoy the late night opening of the town’s many boutique shops, which includes complimentary food and drink in many stores.

See for all the details.