I can technically tick Norfolk off my UK travel list now, but at the same time, four days cannot exhaust the places that Norfolk has to offer – I mean come on, I haven’t ventured to the Norfolk Broads yet. It’s next on the list.
But following my ‘staycation’, I can now give you a fairly comprehensive guide to North Norfolk (including some social distancing, ‘new normal’ observations).
WHERE TO STAY
I mentioned it in my last blog post, (which you can read about here), but Quality Unearthed is my new favourite website. It allowed me to discover the gem that is the Ryeland Retreat at Godwick Hall. Referred to as ‘schlamping’ (I think we might need to check the dictionary on that one), the shepherd huts are gorgeous and has near enough everything you could need; tea bags, coffee machine, wine glasses, microwave etc – we managed to make two meals in for the evening (microwavable fajitas & stuffed peppers actually worked pretty well) and there is also the option to hire a BBQ. There are three huts in total and they are carefully designed, each have one window on the right hand side and french doors which face out, rather than at the other huts. They are perfectly positioned for some incredible sunsets in the evening – it’s worth sitting out with dinner to make the most of them!
WHAT TO DO
Exploring all of the cute villages in Norfolk is a MUST. Based in Godwick, there is the ‘Lost Village’ which is about a two minute walk from the shepherds huts. This can easily connect onto the footpath into Tittleshall – using the OS maps app, we managed navigate around a five mile route.
Castle Acre is one of those cute, quaint villages, including a good ole English Heritage site; Castle Acre Priory. As the visit is accompanied by an audio tour (generated through a QR code), you’ve got a mini tour guide to take around the site with you. For your visit, it is booked through time slots online, but at the site, there is plenty of space to ensure social distancing can occur and face masks are to be worn in the gift shop. The castle and bailey gate are about a five minute walk into the village, with plenty of space to wander through, read the history and have a picnic amongst the views.
Now, walking from Cley to Blakeney Point is probably one of the most beautiful walks I’ve been on – especially to feel ‘at one’ with nature. It’s a tough un, with seven miles on shingle terrain and as a note, three days on and my calves are STILL aching. Only thing is, the toilets are currently shut – along with the Lifeboat House visitor centre.
Again, Blakeney is a very cute village and naturally popular. It was still pretty busy in the late afternoon, around 5pm. Along the harbour, where there is optimum crabbing opportunity (if that’s your kinda thing), benches have been marked off to ensure social distancing – but, there is not much space to do so when it is still busy.
For me, Wells was the jackpot. It’s a quaint seaside town, with an expansive sandy beach. The top tip is to park in the car park nearer to the town and walk the mile to the beach – it’ll save you £4 in parking fees and the one closest to the beach was rammed. To spend time on the beach, a walk out to the sand dunes will avoid the crowds and at high tide, the sea is pretty close. The busy part of the beach can also be avoided by walking through the pine forests – you’ll make it back to the main car park with the mini Joules store, ice cream places and toilets much quicker!
Hunstanton was another good one for a visit. Old Hunstanton beach is home to plenty of rock pools and the famous coloured cliffs. As it was near enough the hottest day of the year, a dip in the sea was obviously welcomed. It is obviously a popular spot on the Norfolk coastline and I’d quite like to visit on perhaps a cooler day for more of the coastal path!
WHERE TO EAT
The Brisley Bell, Brisley: This had been highly recommended in the Godwick Hall guide and I’d agree, the food is VERY good. It’s definitely more of a ‘meat-eaters’ restaurant with only one vegetarian option, but you can tell it’s all local produce. In terms of my first visit to a restaurant in the last four months, I’d say that it was managed well and I felt safe, the online booking system had also requested details as part of track and trace.
Platten’s Fish & Chips, Wells-next-the-Sea: If you’ve read other guides to Norfolk, you may have seen the recommended French’s Fish & Chip shop, which I was pretty excited to try – especially as there was a vegetarian sausage on the menu! But the queue was HUGE. Instead, Platten’s was our choice and in terms of the chips and curry sauce option, it was a good one! Platten’s was also really well managed with a one-way system for customers and very quick service. The town may look busy with everyone enjoying fish and chips, but if you walk further down the harbour, there were some much quieter picnic benches!