An insider's guide to the county's best kept secrets
Norfolk is renowned for its gentle pace of life. With its undulating landscape, idyllic villages and welcoming pubs, it’s easy to see why no-one wants to rush. With some of the best nature reserves in the country, many flock here to experience being at peace with the world. If this is your objective then look no further than the North Norfolk coastline; let the kittiwake gulls beckon you in.
Difficult to impress? Then Holkham Bay is the beach for you. Imagine a vast
expanse of open landscape lined with pinewoods, backed with sand dunes and
covered in golden sand. The grandeur of this plane is nothing short of
spectacular, that’s why it wins Best Beach in the UK year after year.
If walking is your thing, prepare yourself for a treat. There’s the 45 mile coastal
path that spans from Hunstanton to Cromer for a start. But if a stunning view is
what excites you continue on to Cromer Happy Valley. In the height of Summer
an impressive swathe of wildflowers perch at the top of some 200 steps down to
sea but go beyond this to the highest point, where a working lighthouse stands, and you’ll be rewarded with a breathtaking sight over the ocean.
Another hill climb to Barrow Common near Brancaster Staithe is well worth the 2.4 mile trip. A stunning vantage point from which to look down over sand, mudflats, salt marshes and lagoons to a coastline shaped daily by the tide. The good thing about this hike is it starts and finishes by The Jolly Sailor where “children, muddy boots and dogs are welcome”; a fine Norfolk pub. If stone baked pizzas and an ice-cream hut aren’t enough to coax you in, I should mention it also houses Brancaster’s five barrel Brewery; quality ales from the finest regional produce. Sample the likes of The Wreck, Oyster Catcher and new for 2012, Sharpie, to put some colour back in your cheeks.
North Norfolk has many Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, my favourite of which is Scolt Head Island. If you’re looking for a day out with a difference, hop on board the ferry departing from Burnham Overy Staithe and partake in an afternoon of tranquil island life. Primarily an area of ecological research, wildlife comes first. Take your binoculars to spot Sandwich, Roseate, Artic and Little Terns. Blakeney Point provides us with the joy of seals too; a colony of 500, both Common and Grey, can be viewed on a Beans Boat Trip from Morston Quay. Panoramic views, nature and the beautiful great outdoors; North Norfolk has it all.
So what’s the perfect end to a day out here? Head to Old Hunstanton and witness a mesmerising sunset over the ocean. I cannot begin to tell you how uplifting they are. Shimmering waters, pink skies and vivid orange clouds. Grab a deckchair and blanket and watch an ever evolving sun set as it lowers over the sea. At this point you’ll probably confess that North Norfolk has won your heart.
This article was written for Suffolk Norfolk Life magazine. For more information visit www.suffolknorfolklife.co.uk