A Week along the North Norfolk Coast
This isn’t meant as an advert for the North Norfolk Coast, as it’s a personal blog of things I found to do whilst on holiday with my family and two granddaughters. But if you are looking for somewhere to staycation, I can’t recommend it here enough.
My thanks too for some tips from Catherine Boardman and her weekly Cultural Wednesdays blog. Go check her out for a variety of interesting stories and features.
This is my first blog for several months. I make no apology for that as some will know I’ve been busy promoting my book ‘Memories from The End Of The Line’. The first print sold out within days of launching and I’m now busy preparing to reprint in anticipation of Christmas – head to my bookshop if you’d like to pre-order a copy.
I’ve loads of stories to write as I’ve not been idle on theendoftheline front. In fact I’ve nine blogs to catch up on, so I’ll be busy writing these in the next few weeks.
If you’ve been following my social media posts, you will already have been introduced to the delights of the North Norfolk coast. So here I bring them all together for your enjoyment.
We arrive on Saturday, Street Market day and the town is bustling with people milling around enjoying the various food stalls and artisan products.
Holt is a very attractive Georgian town full of art galleries, antique and book shops and eateries. It’s hidden quaintness is revealed as you walk around and meander into the many courtyards and alleyways tucked away, almost hidden. But explore you must to enjoy this delightful town.
A visit to Gressenhall Workhouse is a lesson in social history where you can learn how the Victorians dealt with the poor following the enactment of the Poor Law in 1834. It’s quite poignant, and the visit stimulates the thought on whether it’s any different now? Those living in the workhouse are described as inmates where conditions are stark and the punishment for misdemeanors quite brutal.
For example Honor Dickerson was caught throwing bread over the laundry yard wall to her 12 year old son in 1841 – her punishment was eight hours in the dungeon. Mabel Bowman was pregnant when she joined the workhouse and was expected to work up until two months before the baby’s birth. Although no longer considered unusual, I suspect in the 19th Century, it was.
Their museum is also interesting, especially when you can remember things from your own childhood, and a visit to the farm to see the massive shire horse was exciting.
There’s a brilliant children’s play area too, where our granddaughters exhausted their afternoon’s energy as we marvelled at the surprise Spitfire flypast. Noisy when it came in low, but quite a sight.
Even on a North Norfolk break, I still find an end of the line. This time the Poppy Line, now a heritage railway line, it was originally built in 1887 and it runs between Holt and Sheringham through the North Norfolk countryside. We timed our trip to be pulled out of Holt by the LNER-B12-8572, and back from Sheringham by the BR-9F-92203 ‘Black Prince’ steam locomotives.
I think the adults probably had more pleasure out of this ride than the children, although they too were fascinated by the stations and smartly dressed volunteers, in their original Midland and Great Northern Joint Railway (M&GN) uniforms. The volunteers clearly enjoyed what they do – and who wouldn’t?
BeWILDerwood – The curious treehouse adventure
This is an award-winning, forest full of family fun in Hoveton, based on the magical children’s books written by local author and creator of BeWILDerwood, Tom Blofeld.
The whole family can spend hours running, whizzing and clambering on the sustainable wooden play structures, from aerial ropewalks to climbing walls, balancing logs and muddled mazes in a beautiful forest setting – and we did. Well most of us..
This is where I spent six hours running around with our granddaughters and it was a far better workout than an hour in the gym. Of course, participation isn’t compulsory, but if you feel so inclined, it’s a place for all ages, but watch out for the Twiggles, Boggles and Crocklebog.
We spent a couple of days at West Runton beach. This is a sand and shingle beach, with an expanse of sand and rock pools when the tide goes out. There are miles of footpaths and bridleways in the surrounding area. The cliffs offer an impressive backdrop to the beach and the site of the discovery of the West Runton Mammoth – the largest nearly-complete mammoth skeleton ever found in Britain, and the oldest found in the UK.
The shallow rock pools, made up of chalk and flint shingle, offer an opportunity to go in search of small marine life, but make sure you wear sturdy footwear as a slip can be quite treacherous. However, the rock pools are not a patch on those in my hometown, Aberystwyth where I spent my childhood school holidays. Pools would be deep and full of large prawns, edible crabs and the occasional lobster. But despite that, they were fun exploring. And of course, the collective efforts of three generations saw the creation of a wonderful sandcastle and brilliant sea defences provided by King Canute Enterprises.
On another day, we walked along the sea wall at Sheringham and enjoyed the colourful and iconic beach huts there.
As seasoned National Trust members, we will always look out for new opportunities to see and explore our natural heritage, and North Norfolk certainly helped us there.
We spent the afternoon meandering through the National Trust Nature Reserve between Morston and Blakeney, and although we didn’t make it on a boat to see the seals at Blakeney Point, there was still plenty of other wildlife to keep us amused.
The tide was out, so boats seemed stranded in the mud, but this quickly changed as the creeks filled as the tide turned. And whilst at Blakeney, we saw youngsters practising the art of gillying whilst we sat with ice creams in hand. Both Morston and Blakeney are colourful inlets full of boats and people milling around.
Our second National Trust visit took us to Horsey on the Eastern Coast. First to explore the Broads and the Horsey Windpump. We hadn’t planned to take a boat trip along the Broads, but we thoroughly enjoyed our boatman, Phillip’s knowledge. And a walk to the top of Horsey Windpump gave us a magnificent view over the Broads.
I have to say, the National Trust offers a great choice of cakes – we plumped for the flapjacks on both occasions – yumm.
This will seem like a roll-call, but we saw: Little Stint, Nesting Swallows, Hawker Dragonflies, Shore crabs, shrimps, sea anemones, Marsh Harrier, Ringed Plover, Shire Horse and a flock of Geese.
Whilst walking along Sheringham seafront, we encountered a group of ornithologists peering over the sea wall trying to spot a small flock of Purple Sandpipers. With their help, I managed to capture them feeding.
I met an interesting couple along Blakeney harbour pushing a grey cat wearing a cat dress in a pram. Yes! Her name is Fen. She was found years ago under a dustbin, and now enjoys a pampered life. But here’s a thing, one day, Fen jumped on her carer (Tony) and rubbed his stomach. Turns out he had Prostate Cancer which was then treated.
I also met Sherry, a delightful 13 year old rescued Welsh Border Collie along the beach at West Runton. And my final exciting find was the colony of seals at Horsey Gap bobbing their heads where the surf was breaking. A couple of pups landed on the shore before being ushered back by the older seals. Joyful to watch, which concluded a week’s worth of brilliant memories.
So if any of this whetts your appetite, then take the plunge and go and visit the area.
If you like what you see, please follow me on my social media channels