A world away

My favourite places to go in Norfolk combine the wide-open space we have in abundance, with the secret pockets that pop up between the hustle and bustle of the city. We might be famous for dramatic flatlands stretching to the horizon, but this is a county of humble beauty, and sunsets like you’ve never seen before. Here are my top outdoor spots for all the family. 

Head to Holkham

Holkham Beach is one of the largest beaches in Norfolk and attracts visitors all year round. Named the best beach in the UK in a recent travel survey, there is something for everyone here – sand, sea, dunes, forests, bird watching and, most importantly, lovely ice cream! After a nice long walk through the trees to the beach, turn back and head up towards the majestic Holkham Hall. Make sure you stop at the Adnams shop on the way for a bottle of their famous gin or whisky, or stop in at The Victoria, a traditional flint-fronted inn located at the gateway to the main hall.

Holkham Beach is loved by Gwyneth Paltrow (who filmed her closing scenes for Shakespeare in Love here) and is also the chosen location for the Household Cavalry who visit the beach for an annual ride as part of their rural regimental training camp. Whilst Holkham in the height of summer is beautiful, visit early morning in the Spring or the Autumn to almost guarantee the beach to yourself.

Holkham Hall Lake
The Lake at Holkham Hall

Whilst the beach often takes the limelight, our first port of call when visiting Holkham is the Hall and its fabulous grounds. We love arriving early and choosing one of the circular routes around the imposing building. Holkham Hall is home to a herd of fallow deer that roam the grounds, and there is something fabulous about seeing the locking of antlers through a misty vista. There is also a beautiful lake which offers boating as well as an array of wildlife, and you can even stay on the estate itself – book Palmers Lodge and you’ll be in for a treat. We tend to relax with a coffee and scone at the Courtyard Cafe before heading off into the town of Wells, which is just a stone's throw away.

"To keep up everyone’s spirits during the lockdown, Holkham set up HolkHome to support the local community and deliver virtual content – check it out!"

- Matt

A quick round, or two

If you are a fan of golf, look no further than Sheringham Golf Club for a perfect day on the greens. Regularly listed as one of the top courses in the country, its clifftop location provides a great place to sink 18 holes as well as some truly stunning views. Since it first opened in 1892, golfers have enjoyed practising their swing on its pristine turf, with the sea to one side and the historic village to the other, with nothing but the sound of the crashing waves and seabirds in the distance for company. Bliss!

Stay at The Lawns and you’ll be able to grab a quick round just after breakfast. Once you have finished, pack away your clubs and explore, before choosing from a wide range of options for the ‘19th hole’ in the centre of this coastal town later in the day. One of my favourites is the Two Lifeboats which looks right out over the sea.

"Sheringham Golf Club will be open to non-members from the start of June and is already practising safe golfing with its members"

- Matt

Pubs, paddles, perfection

If you would like to see Norwich from a different angle, why not visit Pub and Paddle near Norwich Cathedral where you can hire canoes to take you around the city by water… stopping off at some popular waterside pubs along the way. This is a favourite activity of the Original Cottages team for some after-work socialising. I would recommend stopping at the Ribs of Beef pub, which is one of the first stops – not only for the friendly welcome but because it is one of the easiest places to get out of your canoe without falling in!

You can dip your toe in the water with an evening paddle or go out for longer on a return trip to the lovely suburb of Thorpe St Andrew and keep your canoe all afternoon. The whole family (including the dog) can come along and kids go for half price. My top tip is to leave the car behind and catch a train into Norwich station (Pub and Paddle is just a short walk away) so you can enjoy wherever the currents take you without worrying about having to drive back to your cottage.

Pub and Paddle in Norwich
Pub and Paddle canoes on the slipway 

Continue the journey

Let us take you on a journey to Norfolk from the comfort of your sofa! In these uncertain times, we’re bringing the best of England and Wales to you – so read on and experience Matt from Norfolk Cottages’ favourite places to go and some hidden gems, too. We’ve got plenty of nearby properties, and can’t wait to welcome you back soon…