A Short Break in Norfolk

Author: Lauren Coleman

Thank you for all your very helpful destination suggestions on my recent post about taking a short break. James has been travelling with work a lot recently and so with an aversion to airports we’ve decided to stay closer to home and head to Norfolk for a break. I really took heed of what you said about travelling to family-friendly cities with a little one, and our family post on Wednesday afternoon goes into this a little more.

We went to the North Norfolk coast last autumn but just for a day trip so it left me eager to explore the area more. It was the first time we’d ever gone to that part of the world. A friend who regularly did the five hour trip to Cornwall had fallen in love with the Norfolk the year before. With just a two hour trip from our house it seemed the ideal location to get some vitamin sea.
I’ll give you a bit of a run-down of what we did last time. That’s not to say we won’t repeat some of it. (What can I say? I have a thing about beach huts).

Our Last Visit

  • Last time we spent an hour or so in Burnham market, dipping into the traditional shops, delis and the interiors shops for a lovely mooch around. We dropped into North Stree Bistro for a drink. Would highly recommend this place as the dinner menu looked great and the decor was insta-friendly.
  • We lunched at The White Horse at Brancaster Staithe overlooking the salt marshes in an area of natural outstanding beauty. The food was delicious and there was a great bustling atmosphere.
  • We then drove about twenty minutes to Wells-Next-Sea. My magpie tendencies drew me to Nomad and the Bowerbird where I wanted one of everything. We decided to do the walk up to the beach huts and along the coast, then I was going to treat myself to a few bits and pieces. As you might have guessed the shop was closed when we got back. It’s only fair I go back.
  • As it was late October dusk began to creep in early and so we headed home. We drove past Holkham on the way home and a visit to the deer park was added to my wish-list for the return trip.

    This Year’s Wish List

    So this time we’re hoping to spend three full days in East Anglia’s finest.

  • Eric’s Fish and Chips in Thornham with a much more hipster menu than your usual chippie. Gruyere and spinach arancini anyone? –
  • A trip to the deli and coffee shop at Thornham Deli. I’ve heard good things about the interiors shop here too.
  • Long walks along the beach in the low tides.
  • A trip to Holkham Hall, maybe with a picnic? Has anyone done the walk from Holkham to Wells-next-the-Sea?
  • We’re considering a boat trip from Morston Quay to Blakeney Point to see the seals in their own habitat.
  • It’s recently been recommended we book to the dining train on the traditional steam engines that run between Sheringham and Holt. The dates don’t seem to match up with when we’re intending to go but maybe we should go for a trip on the train anyway?
  • Has anyone else fallen in love with North Norfolk? What are your recommendations for places to visit and things to go in East Anglia?

    Lauren likes Paris, Prosecco and Paint Charts
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    22 thoughts on “A Short Break in Norfolk

    1. Ahhhh a travel post. My favourite!

      We’ve just returned from Cornwall and are in Norfolk end August (what can I say, I like a holiday). It’s similar to Cornwall but less people, more 4 x 4. It’s the closest beaches to my parents so we went a fair bit as kids.

      Personally I prefer the Brancaster beach end to Cromer. Brancaster is Kate country. Cromer is ummm……more your kiss me quick hat.

      Wells is a bit naff but good for crabbing (cheat and get the nets, not the lines and squid works better than bacon). Also good fish and chips. I’ve eaten at Eric’s and I get the vibe but we didn’t think much to the fish and chips. Decor over taste which, when it’s fish and chips…….. I’d rather have sand in my hair and salt from the sea with my fish and chips than nude lighting and exposed brick walls. Each to their own I suppose.

      Thornham Deli is good and is very instagrammable. Brancaster is a good NT beach but get there early. People rave about Holkham Beach (the one from Shakespeare in Love at the end) but if the tide is out it’s a fair walk and there are a lot of horses which don’t make it the most kid friendly. There is a pub opposite the entrance to Holkham – good for a drink not for food.

      Byfords at Holt is lovely to stay – Room 1 is the nicest. You get moon shaped chocolate chip shortbread on the pillow at bedtime. Otherwise Byfords is lovely for a late brunch or ice cream.

      If you are doing Blankney Point then the Blankney hotel is also worth a look for afternoon tea. You’ll be half the age of anyone else there but the views are lovely and it’s got a charm of its own. Also worth investigating if you are looking for accommodation.

      Hope it helps!

      Anyone got any tips for the Roseland Penninsula in Cornwall? Where is good to stay on the South Coast? Beaches and as few people as possible.

      1. I am so enthusiastic about your Roseland Penninsula question. We got married there!! The hotel we got married in (the Rosevine) is beautiful and does lovely food. There is also the beach hut on the below the Rosevine but book for their special dinners as they are super popular. You also have to visit St Mawes and spend time in the harbour. It is just the most magical place in the world!!

    2. You’re already planning to visit some of my favourite places. The walk from Wells to Holkham is lovely and not too far for a pregnant lady in the (hopefully) hot weather. Pick your own fruit at Drove Orchards – the greengages are delicious. There’s also a lovely interiors store here called Joyfull Living. Brancaster is a lovely beach (watch out for tidal floods on the road in). Stiffkey Stores is worth a visit for Rifle Paper Co stationery. Horsey is great for seeing seals on the beach (February time but as you said it’s near enough to make a special trip). Enjoy yourselves!

        1. Ha ha Lauren. It’s a gorgeous little shop but the parking isn’t great. Drove Orchards is where Erics is so be sure to leave time.

    3. Stiffkey was my childhood happy place, we went every summer and spent our time on the marshes and beach, so I second Stiffkey Stores as a must – their cakes and coffee are delicious, they have a gorgeous little insta account too. The other place to visit is Holt (there’s an amazing little Air bnb there too) in particular Byfords which is gorgeous. The other place I love is Cley, which is picture perfect and has the most amazing windmill (you can stay in it too!) – just a lovely place to wander and explore. Enjoy xx

      1. I wonder if we stayed at the same AirBnB! Little semi-detached cottage next to an accounting firm

    4. Agree with all the recommendations above in particular, Thornham Deli, Stiffkey Stores (I have to stop there whenever we drive past!) and Holkham. I have to say we weren’t that impressed with Byfords. We had pasties which they’d heated in a microwave (que oily, goopy mess everywhere!), the decor was lovely though so maybe eat in rather than takeaway.
      If you want to go further afield in East Anglia (we live in Cambridgeshire), Southwold, Walberswick and Aldeburgh in Suffolk are beautiful! Southwold in particular has a fab revamped hotel called The Swan (owned by Adnams brewers). You could always stop in Ely or Cambridge on the way back (we live in Ely so are biased, but it’s a lovely place to wander for a few hours).
      Hope you have a fab time. North Norfolk is a real gem. Xx

      1. We went to Suffolk for our anniversary a few years ago and loved all those places. I’ve never been to Ely so we really should go x

        1. We are off for a long weekend in Suffolk in August and staying in Blythburgh – any recommendations would be gratefully received! Your suggestions for Norfolk look fab, have added them to the list for next time.

    5. North Norfolk has a special place in my heart…we got married in Cley Windmill! It’s so beautiful and there are no street lightsaber Cley, so the stars are just amazing if you’re brave enough for a walk in the dark (with a torch for the way home!)

      We loved admiring the beach huts on Wells-next-Sea, and enjoyed Byfords in Holt via the Sheringham stream train. Holkham Beach is stunning – well worth the walk, you can just see sky, sea and sand for miles. I also loved seeing the seal pups at Blakeney so you have definitely got a good wish list going!
      To me North Norfolk is just full of lovely places and lovely food – each time we’ve been, we’ve found something new and had the most relaxing time pottering about.
      Have a fantastic time! Xx

      1. Not sure where that lightsaber came from…it was supposed to say “lights in”!
        If you make it to Cley, there’s a lovely village shop called “Picnic Fayre” which is aptly named…we bought delicious goodies for lunch and walked a short while to the beach to enjoy it watching the waves lap at the sand. Bliss!

        1. I had to re-read the light sabre comment a few times Stephie!
          Cley Windmill looks to be an amazing place to get married.

    6. Love love Norfolk! We got married at Thornham church 3years ago tomorrow (reminds me still need to get a card?! oops). Would highly highly recommend The Orange Tree pub there for food and/or BnB – YUM! Thornham deli is a treasure trove but fairly pricey, Drove orchards down the road has a PYO and some cute shops too!

    7. I fell in love with North Norfolk a few years back and have since decided we WILL retire there!
      On our first trip we actually stayed at the White Horse – in the lovely roof room with a telescope (I love the colour of its feature paint!). So you have clearly discovered Burnham Market (Love the large interiors shop there, but the best place is the epic bookshop you can get lost for hours in)
      My husband surprised me with a 30th birthday trip back, staying at the incredible Blakeney hotel.
      Last week we stayed in North Norfolk for a few days again, it was our first summer trip as we always visited in early December before. This time we were based in Holt, a perfect location for all of North Norfolk and a fantastic Tardis-like town. It has some really cool shops, including an old department store scattered through the town. Can highly recommend Horatios cafe for their tea and cakes, and dinner at Byfords. My husband and toddler did the steam train trip to Sherringham (where I met them in the car) and that was a fantastic little trip. Sherringham is a nice little town to spend an hour, too.
      I strongly suggest that you visit Holkham Hall. We hired bikes and cycled round and it’s just huge and beautiful. The village at the bottom of the road has great little shops, and on the other side of the main road you can park up for Holkham Bay – this vast expanse of sandy beach, dunes and pine forest. We loved it. Another great stop is Sheringham Park (National Trust). It’s truly huge, and was landscaped in the 1700’s by one of the last great estate landscape designers.

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