I’m a bit of a stuck record with posts about holidays in Norfolk – we’ve been there 4 times now in the last 3 years. The area just works so well for us – beautiful beaches, gorgeous market towns, plenty to do in all weathers and it’s only a 2.5-3 hour drive from London. The latter is a huge plus when travelling with a 3 year old who hates to be confined!
I’ve written about previous holidays here and here. I’m going to try not to cover old ground but here are the highlights from this year’s holiday.
We stayed just outside this market town (AKA Chelsea-On-Sea), right up towards the north coast. We loved the old fashioned sweet shop Mabel’s and popped in for treats.
This was our nearest beach and one of our favourites. When the tide is out, there’s a huge expanse shell filled sand, yet with channels left behind to play in. There’s also a shipwreck you can see at low tide! It’s a National Trust beach and an NT team were there one day lending out buckets, spades, kites and crabbing gear.
A lovely town with some good old-fashioned British seaside fun thrown in with arcades and touristy shops. We had the best fish and chips ever from French’s and ate them in the playground over the road from the harbour. Another day we went to the ice-cream parlour for delicious locally made ice-cream. The harbour edge is lined with families crabbing and you can get a little light railway train down to the beach from the harbour.
The beach has a lovely cafe / shop plus an outpost of Joules in case you have forgotten any beachwear essentials! The beach itself is pretty muddy but it’s lined with quaint huts. Plus there is a lifeguard there at peak times so it’s good spot for swimming.
Wells to Warlingham Light Railway
A little light railway that runs from Wells-on-Sea to Warlingham and back again. It’s about a 45 minute round trip or you can get off and explore Warlingham (if has a famous Abbey) and get a later train back. They also have a fairy garden at the Wells station and the kids get a list of fairy folk to spot during the ride as well as a wand!
This was an amazing experience! We took a boat trip from Moreston Quay over to Blakeney Point to see the seals that live there. Most of them were still asleep on the sand when we arrived but some were taking to the sea for a swim and seem completely unfazed by the boats. We used Beans Boat Trips and the round trip takes under an hour.
Famous for being the home of eccentric Norfolk farmer, Desmond MacCarthy, star of the BBC series, Normal For Norfolk. The hall as a cafe, PYO as well as a Maize Maze for the summer. You can also book tours of the hall and gardens. We booked lunch here after our boat trip to Blakeney Point but had time to spare so did the maze. It was £15 for a maze family ticket to the kids and main maze. If only we tried the kids maze first because we got totally lost in the main maze and it really put the kids off! Fortunately we found that the kids could play on the lawn outside the cafe and there’s a wooden recreation of the front on the hall that you can climb up. Lunch was delicious – I had a selection of salads made from produce from the farm. Kids were well catered for and given colouring too.
We spent a rainy day at Bircham Mill, though we did manage to see the gardens and animals in a dry spell. The girls enjoyed the kids trail and recreating life inside the mill in the hands-on exhibitions. They were also able to make bread to be baked and Andy climbed to the top of the mill too. We had sausage rolls and pasties for lunch from the cafe which has toys, books and a rocking horse too.
The Pigs, Edgefield
Our favourite child-friendly pub! In fact it’s a favourite anyway regardless of the play areas. They have extended the family room since our last visit and it now has pool tables and other bits for older kids and adults. They still have the lego table and baby toys too. The outside play area was designed by the team behind adventure park BeWILDerwood and has slides, a tree house, a zip wire, den building area and a climbing wall. Oh, and the food and drink is great too! I always get a selection of “Iffits” (Norfolk style small plates). Andy and I shared Eton mess but it was huge and enough for all 4 of us.
The first ever National Trust house and a fun place for a family day out. You could spend all day exploring the gardens – climbing trees, hiding in walled gardens, playing croquet and picnicking. During the summer, volunteers performed little shows in the garden too, featuring characters who lived in the house in times gone by.
We did visit the house – which was slightly nerve wracking keeping the 3 year old from touching all the bits she wasn’t supposed to! We picked up a kids trail – you picked a postcard with a person on from the house’s history and then you had 5 items to find around the house. Imogen picked society gardener Norah Lindsay. Seren chose Indira Gandhi (or Indira Nehru as she was then), the first female Prime Minster of India who visited the house with her father (Jawaharlal Nehru, the first Prime Minster of India). We all learned a lot that day! We finished the visit with dress-up with costumes related to the characters used in the kids trails. I love the way that the National Trust put all this stuff together with such attention to detail!
So, that’s our highlights. Lovely to look back on on a rainy day in London. We did also go to BeWILDerwood but I’m going to save that for another post soon.