Beautiful coastline, open spaces, fish and chips and historic halls: The very English pleasures of unspoilt Norfolk
Watch the sky fill with pink-footed geese in winter. January and February are great months for fresh beach walks. May and June offer some of the best weather for sailing, kiting and sea kayaking. October and November are glorious wildlife months. And in July, August and September, you can bask in the sun on one of the regions many vast, yellow-sand beaches.
Visit a Stately Home
The tiny village of Holkham is one of the highlights of the North Norfolk coast, with its imposing Hall in the centre of a deer park the location for many family fun days. The sweeping sands of Holkham beach on the other side of the pinewoods is a fine place to walk and swim, and you can go for a posh pub lunch at the cosy Victoria Inn afterwards. Royalists might head for Sandringham, while Blickling Estate – once home to Anne Boleyn, whose ghost is said to reside here – an impressive Jacobean house with beautiful park and gardens, and the elegant Felbrigg Hall are also well worth a visit.
Immerse Yourself in Nature
The wide open spaces, the varying light of Norfolk's skies and uninterrupted views of the beautiful coastline ensure trips to the area are inspiring at any time of the year. Saltmarshes, mudflats, shingle and vast expanses of sand mean Norfolk has a rich variety of birds, plants and animal species. To learn how to spot and photograph various creatures, Wildlife Tours & Education offers a range of courses, such as Wildlife Photography Day and Norfolk Day Safari.
Or take the kids to see the seals at Blakeney Point, within Blakeney National Nature Reserve. The best way to visit is by ferry, and boats depart daily from Morston Quay. Some trips offer the chance to land on Blakeney Point and visit the Lifeboat House. At Norfolk's northwest corner, where The Wash meets the North Sea, Holme Dunes is superbly located to attract migrating birds, and was formerly the site of well-preserved Bronze Age timber circle 'Seahenge', which was uncovered by tides after 4000 years (the structure is now on display at Lynn Museum in Kings Lynn).
Shopping and Eating
Burnham Market, or 'Chelsea on sea' as it has been called, is a shopper's paradise with its clothing and homeware boutiques, galleries, book shop, delicatessen, bakery, fishmonger and tea shops.
Visit The Hoste for a pint by the large open fire, or a meal at its upmarket restaurant. The pub has been upscaled into a luxury hotel with its own spa.
Or, if a Michelin star whets your appetite, book a table at Morston Hall. Other favourites are the historic market town of Holt, with its high street and narrow lanes of shops and cafés, and Staithe Street in Wells-next-the-Sea, with its jewellery shops, galleries and bookshops.
Taking to the water is a popular pastime in North Norfolk. You can hire private self-skippered boats from a number of harbours including Brancaster and Blakeney, or take a boat trip out to Scolt Head Island from Burnham Overy Staithe.
SailCraft Sea School operates in the sheltered waters of Brancaster Staithe Harbour, south of Scolt Head Island, surrounded by marshes and creeks. Suitable for both beginners and experienced sailors alike, the bay offers a unique boating area for a variety of water-sports activities.
Other Children's Activities
If the beaches aren't enough of a draw, animal lovers can head to Amazona Zoo at Cromer for South American tropical creatures. If you dream of the Jurassic Period, don't miss the Dinosaur Adventure Park at Lenwade (voted best large attraction in Norfolk 2013). While if you are a farm fan, Wroxham Barns has a selection of traditional farm animals that children can pet as well as look at.
Take the steam train from Sheringham along The North Norfolk Railway, which goes through Kelling and Holt with sea views along the way. Heritage railways are based at Wells-next-the-Sea, Sheringham and Aylsham.
Children also love BeWILDerwood, a wild adventure park set in over 50 acres with rope ladders, zipwires and treehouses.
Whether it's meandering through the ancient village of Little Walsingham, looking at the religious shrines and doing your own mini pilgrimage, or experiencing the rhododendrons in bloom in Sheringham Park, there are walks to suit all ages and levels of fitness. The North Norfolk coastline features the 45-mile Norfolk coastal path from Hunstanton to Cromer, which can be walked end to end for an invigorating few days, with excellent pubs en route.
Norfolk's largest ancient woodland, Foxley Woods, where the silence is broken only by birdsong and the wind in the trees, has swathes of bluebells in spring. Thetford Forest, the UK's largest manmade lowland forest, also has much to recommend it, or try a walk at Lynford around the Arboretum and lake.
For a good list of Norfolk walks, click here.
For more information about North Norfolk and its attractions, click here.
A beautifully converted set of traditional barns updated with modern style 10 minutes from the coast, in the pretty village of Barsham, near Walsingham, sleeps four – 14.
Lower Wood Farm
Nestled in the tiny hamlet of Mautby, two miles from sandy beaches and bordering the waterways of the Norfolk Broads, Lower Wood Farm is made up of eight luxury cottages and has its own indoor pool, sleeps four – nine.
- Holkham Hall
- Felbrigg Hall
- Wildlife tours & Education
- Blakeney Point
- Blakeney National Nature Reserve by Ferry
- Holme Dunes
- Lynn Museum
- The Hoste
- Morston Hall
- ScoltHead Island
- Dinosaur Park Lenwade
- Wroxham Barns
- Sheringham Steam Train
- Foxley Woods
- Thetford Forest