For as long as I can remember, my Mum and Dad have taken my sister and I on an annual holiday to Norfolk, along with three other families from the village I grew up in. It’s a trip we still look forward to every year, so I wanted to share some tips with you all today.
I’ll focus on a few key ingredients to a very British holiday in Norfolk: crabbing, beaches and pubs!
From a very early age I learnt the skill of ‘crabbing’! Crabbing is somewhat of a tradition around Norfolk and you will see countless youngsters precariously hanging a line over the key front at Blakeney with a bucket very close by filled with crabs. The most commonly used bait for crabbing is bacon or whelks (it must be mentioned that no crabs are harmed during the crabbing process!). After getting a bite and carefully inching the crabs up the wall and swiftly into your bucket (avoiding their claws!), the highlight is crab racing; pouring the crabs at the top of the launch and watching them rush back into the estuary. Keep an eye on the tides, as crabbing is at its best when the tide is coming in, but you have to watch your step as the Norfolk tides change very quickly. I have been left with wet feet on many an occasion...
The beaches in Norfolk are breathtaking, with huge expanses of white sand as far as the eye can see. So stunning are the beaches, in fact, that the music video for Pure Shores by Allsaints (soundtrack to the film ‘The Beach’ starring Leonado DiCaprio, set in Thailand) was actually filmed at Holkham Beach near Wells-Next-The-Sea!
Here are my three favourite Norfolk beaches:
Holkham Beach is miles and miles of beautiful white sand with gorgeous quaint little multi-coloured beach huts. Alongside the beach runs a pine forest, with some excellently positioned rope swings if you're brave enough to venture in a try them!
Brancaster Beach is also a favourite. Similar to Holkham Beach it has miles of gorgeous sands and huge dunes for jumping off. In addition, unlike lots of Norfolk beaches, when the tide is in, you don't have to walk too far to reach the sea. Lots of brave souls swim in the sea at Brancaster, my Dad included, but I have never ventured in myself without a wetsuit, or, in later years, a beer for Dutch-courage!
If you’re feeling adventurous, Scolt Head island is a really interesting beach to venture to. A tidal island that you can get a small ferry out to from Burnham-Overy-Staith at high tide and walk back from at low tide (or vice versa depending on the time of year), Make sure you are fully clued up on the tide timetable though, or you may find yourself wading back waist deep, empty picnic basket in hand! This has happened more times than I dare let on - you’d think we would have learnt, but Scolt Head island is a sensational spot to explore with some old wrecks you can walk out to, so we have often lost track of time!
When we first started going to Norfolk we camped in Stiffkey. We carted everything but the kitchen sink (inclusive of a candelabra (I’m not joking…)) to a campsite that backs onto the marshes. As kids we then spent countless hours mud-sliding! Much to the dismay of the campsite owners, we would then emerge covered head-to-toe in black mud, wanting to use the one and only shower on the campsite. Nonetheless, these are some of my happiest childhood memories! The Stiffkey Summer Fete was also a regular favourite, involving everything from ferret racing to local handmade chutneys.
Now over 20 years down the line we are three generations of families enjoying a Norfolk holiday each year and so subsequently we have needed to upgrade our accommodations. We now stay in The National Trust Tower Windmill at Burnham Overy Staithe. A stunningly located 20 sleeper 6 story self-catered windmill with extravagant views and enough room to house and entertain a small village! With so many people to feed, clean, amuse and manoeuvre, Norfolk and The Windmill provides everything we could ever need. Full English Breakfasts each day do tend to be cooked and eaten in shifts however!
After crabbing and long beach walks, light refreshments and hearty food (and ice cream…) are always required! Thankfully, there are loads of great pubs in Norfolk. Here are a few of my favourites:
Burnham Market itself is a great place to visit, despite its London prices you won't be disappointed with the array of shops it has to offer, including art galleries, clothes boutiques and Tuscan cafes, plus everything else you would expect too - the obligatory Jack Wills & Joules stores and an abundance of fresh fish and local produce shops.
I can say without a shadow of a doubt that Norfolk is one of my favourite holiday destinations in the whole world! A long weekend will leave you feeling fresh (and rather full)! With so many years under my belt I have many more anecdotes and tips to offer so please feel free to comment with any questions, should you have any.
Happy British holidaying!
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