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Why you should have a staycation in Norfolk in 2024

The brightly painted beach huts at Wells-next-the-Sea. Photo: Chris2766/Getty Images/iStockphoto
The brightly painted beach huts at Wells-next-the-Sea. Photo: Chris2766/Getty Images/iStockphoto

Yes, I’m biased, but I really think that Norfolk could be the county that has everything.

The Broads, woodlands, nature reserves, cheerful coastal resorts, isolated beaches and those big, big skies.

Historic sites, from spectacular medieval castles and stunning stately homes to remote rural churches that have barely changed in centuries. Nelson’s birthplace at Burnham Thorpe. The Deep History Coast, where fascinating archaeological finds have shaped our understanding of humankind.

Chocolate-box pretty villages, charming market towns and a vibrant city which is brimming with culture.

A lip-smackingly delicious food and drink scene, with everything from Michelin-starred fine dining to award-winning fish and chips, not to mention the fantastic array of locally farmed, caught and made produce.

It’s a county that is big enough that even if you’ve lived here for years there’s always somewhere new to explore.

Take the coastline for starters – all 80-odd miles of it. Not just for summer, there’s something to draw you there all year round.

The wildlife havens – Snettisham, home of the eponymous spectacular where thousands of whirling waders spiral into the sky; the seal colonies at Blakeney Point and Horsey; and Cley Marshes, one of the oldest nature reserves in the country.

The wild, windswept wonder of Holkham; the bucket and spade charm of Hunstanton, Sheringham and Cromer; the quaint coastal villages of Thornham, Stiffkey and Overstrand; and the bright lights of Great Yarmouth’s Golden Mile.

Then turn around and look inland.

In the heart of the county, surrounded by a patchwork of farmland, sits Norwich - which writer George Borrow so accurately described as ‘A Fine City’ and JB Priestley declared to be ‘a grand higgledy piggledy sensible old place.’

Steeped in history, with a tradition of doing different, the University of East Anglia’s motto, it is a UNESCO City of Literature.

One of the best shopping and eating destinations in the east of England, if you’re a foodie, make sure you check out Norwich Market and the indies in the Lanes area – there are exciting things happening.

And all that’s before I've even mentioned the marvel that is the Broads National Park, with its thousands of acres of lakes and miles of rivers to explore. The result of peat-cutting from centuries gone by, the unique and magical landscape is abundant in rare wildlife. Listen and you might just hear the distinctive boom of the shy bittern. Look close, and you might catch sight of a swallowtail butterfly.

Okay, I concede that the one thing Norfolk might be a bit short of is hills. But it’s certainly not as ‘very flat’ as Noel Coward famously proclaimed it to be – as any out of breath cyclist would tell you.

5 places to visit in Norfolk in 2024

 

Thetford Forest
In the south of the county, Thetford Forest is the UK’s largest manmade lowland forest. A thrilling day out for adventurous types, there’s mountain biking trails, hiking and treetop activities on offer at High Lodge. For something more sedate, explore the area’s history and heritage at Lynford Arboretum, or see if you can spot the ice age pingos at Great Hockham. forestryengland.uk/thetford-forest

Sandringham Estate
The private country retreat of the King and Queen, Sandringham is where the royal family traditionally gather to celebrate Christmas. Home to monarchs since 1862, the 600-acre royal parkland is open to the public all year round, and the splendid Jacobean-style house and gardens landscaped by Geoffrey Jellicoe can be visited during select periods.
sandringhamestate.co.uk

Wells-next-the-Sea
With its parade of famous colourful beach huts and golden sands, Wells-next-the-Sea is a picture postcard perfect example of a seaside town. It’s little wonder that it is regularly voted one of the best coastal resorts in the country. No day out here is complete without fish and chips on the quay.
visitnorfolk.co.uk

Norwich Castle
Dominating the city skyline on a man-made mound, Norwich Castle has one of the finest Norman keeps in Europe. And in the spring it is set to re-open after the completion of the £15m Royal Palace Reborn project to recreate its original 12th century layout, with a new gallery featuring historic treasures on long-term loan from the British Museum.
museums.norfolk.gov.uk

Wroxham
To truly appreciate the beauty of the Broads, you have to take to the water. Starting from Wroxham, known as the capital of the Broads, Broads Tours runs several river trips a day. Immerse yourself in the beautiful scenery while learning about the unique wetland’s history, flora and fauna from the knowledgeable skippers.
broadstours.co.uk

Great British Life: Great British StaycationsGreat British Staycations (Image: Newsquest)

This article appeared in the Great British Staycations magazine.

You are sure to find some inspiration for your next staycation within the 172 pages of this FREE magazine.

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