An insider's guide to the county's best kept secrets
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A well presented cosy cottage in a sleepy hamlet offering a traditional and quirky couples retreat for peaceful nights, country walks and endless places to explore by car within a 10 miles radius
Where to find it
Lessingham is a quiet and secluded village 19 miles from Great Yarmouth, 20 miles from Cromer and 18 miles from Norwich. It’s perfectly situated for coast (2 miles away), broads (3 miles away) and town activities (9 miles away) yet has an idyllically peaceful location that feels hours from anywhere and with poor mobile reception it really can provide a complete getaway. Approaching the main street through Lessingham, you come across Hunter’s Halt (with a car parking space directly out the front of the cottage) in a terraced row of individually quaint country cottages. It’s freshly painted appearance lightens your mood even on the rainiest of days and optimism sours as you find the key and open the white washed front door.
What to expect
The cottage, owned by a friendly Norfolk loving Mark Spurgeon and his wife, Sandra, is small yet has everything you need to the point that further space would be a hindrance. The front door opens into the lounge and that woody bygone smell of old world country cottage greets you. Your eyes are instantly drawn to the low ceiling and huge fireplace that houses a wood burning stove and supplies for a cosy evening by fire light that you’ve already begun dreaming about. A recess full of books and games to the left register as the hideaway activities you’ll soon be enjoying during your stay. A cosy sofa and fresh flowers make for the homely vibe that invites you in.
Leading off from the lounge is a small hallway, substantial bathroom and large kitchen; both are clean and fresh. A welcome note, tea and coffee supplies and a tin of heavenly shortbread are waiting for you. Back in the lounge the quirky doorway to the right of the fireplace intrigues you as you hurry to unlatch it and peer inside. You’re greeted with an original staircase (built in 1790) that is steep to the point of almost ladder status. A guiding rail and handles help you up to what for me is the best room of the house – a spacious vaulted double bedroom with beamed ceiling. From the outside it’s deceptive as you would never expect such open plan grandeur, but this bedroom exceeds all expectations with its luxurious bed and chunky winter duvet.
A cottage for all seasons
Through the kitchen – which has plenty of crockery, cooking facilities and a washing machine – to the back door gives view to another of this cottage’s best features; a large and well tended garden. Outside the door is a paved area complete with table and chairs for lazy al fresco eating and a barbeque for warm summer dinners. Beyond this is a long raised grassed area that goes up to the bottom of the garden where the local church and Happisburgh lighthouse can be seen over the fence. In wet weather the path along the right of the garden can get slippery so beware but in summer this unexpected outdoor space is a welcoming secluded sun spot to unwind and read a novel in as the hours drift by. The garden and sunny well lit bedroom provide the requirements for a perfect summer’s getaway, whilst the cosy lounge, fireplace and luxurious bedding provide an ideal winter’s hideaway retreat.
Out and about
Much of the appeal of this place is that it feels isolated and away from all aspects of modern day life, but at the same time it offers many opportunities for trips out without having to drive too far. Wroxham, the flagship village of the Broads is less than 10 miles away and I’d strongly suggest taking a trip to Horning to the deli there for tasty homemade treats to bring back to the nest and enjoy. The coast is literally minutes away by car and only a two mile walk if you’re feeling fit for some fresh air in your lungs. Call in a Smallsticks cafe en route for a wonderful breakfast or lunch too; the locally sourced and freshly cooked food is of exceptional standard and they even do a Sunday roast. Happisburgh lighthouse is well worth a visit – the only independent working one left, built after 600 sailors lost their lives on the Norfolk coast in 1789. Sea Palling, a fine beach (3 miles away) is a well kept secret by locals – a huge sandy bay backed by sand dunes that is great for bathing. Seals are often spotted along this stretch of coastline too. All these destinations and many more are presented in a welcome box full of tourist leaflets and typed information back at the cottage.
The two person cottage is ideal for couples. A cot is available for infants if required although not toddlers and over due to stairs.
The prices range from £226 to £474 for a full week and from £167 for a weekend/mid week break. Start days for short breaks can be very flexible during the off peak season.