This post is written in collaboration with Original Cottages
If you read our UK Travel Bucket List earlier this year, you’ll know that North Norfolk is one of the places on my list for our family travels. I’m a big planner, and I love the process of putting together a trip, so although we’re not planning to go until next year, I’m busy preparing our itinerary for our family holiday to North Norfolk already.
Norfolk ticks so many of our boxes as a family – lots of opportunities to get outdoors and explore, with beautiful beaches and nature reserves, as well as a shed load of National Trust properties and gardens, and lots of family friendly days out too. As well as doing extensive research, I asked my lovely Instagram friend Fran (@days.of.wander ) for her input, as I know she’s a huge fan of Norfolk, and she gave me some wonderful tips and ideas for days out.
Where to Stay
When it comes to holidays, we’re very much ‘home from home’ people; we like the privacy and flexibility of a villa, or a holiday cottage. When you have small children with early bedtimes, it’s lovely to have a base to return to and not worry about keeping them up late for dinner. SALT Norfolk have the most beautiful range of holiday cottages across the Norfolk coast, all perfectly positioned to enjoy a coastal break and really stylishly decorated and fitted out.
Gaga Barn in Cromer would have to be right up there on my list – a huge expanse of living space for our energetic boys to run around in, and acres of space outside too.
Or to appeal to my love of Victorian houses, Lismore House looks like a stunning option. More traditional in decor, and still with loads of living space, both indoors and outdoors.
But my top pick has to be St Michael’s Cottage in Wells-Next-the-Sea. Location is everything when you’re staying in a holiday cottage and this one is just a stone’s throw from the beach and in our top location too. The decor strikes that perfect balance between modern and traditional and it’s clearly crammed full of character. It even has it’s own lookout tower with a telescope to look out over the creek and out to sea, and a fabulous outdoor dining space with BBQ – my husband would be in heaven!
Wells-next-the-Sea is the picture perfect beach with a long sandy beach lined by pine trees and the prettiest beach huts. It’s a must visit on our list and where we would ideally like to stay.
Holkham is Countryfile’s Beach of the Year for 2018, so you can’t really get a much better recommendation! It looks like an absolutely vast landscape – sand that stretches for miles, lined with sand dunes, and pine trees. It looks like the kind of beach that you can wander for miles and feel like you’re the only ones there, which I always find such a calming thing. It was Holkham beach that was featured in the closing scenes of ‘Shakespeare in Love’ as Gwyneth Paltrow walked across the sands. Set amongst a vast nature reserve, it’s crammed full of wildlife, fauna and flora to spot.
I’d not heard of this beach before, but on hearing that it had a ship wreck when the tide goes out, it made it firmly onto my list – Max would love this!
This is a nature reserve owned by the RSPB so there is a small charge to enter, but it sounds totally worth it. Max always loves exploring a nature reserve with a board walk, although I do have to encourage him to slow down and spot the wildlife at times. You can walk through the reserve to the beach, which I’m reliably told sometimes even has seals waiting to greet you – wouldn’t that be an amazing sight?
I listed Holkham beach above, but Holkham isn’t just a beach, the estate makes for a whole day out. The whole family can rent bikes and spend the day exploring the grounds (they do baby seats and tag-alongs for younger children, so it’s an ideal family activity). There is a walled garden (which is always a favourite of mine), a children’s woodland adventure play area, and various places to eat and drink.
Crabbing at Blakeney Quay
Can you believe I’ve never been crabbing before? It’s one of those things that I really want to do and I’m told that Blakeney Quay is one of the best places to go crabbing. Check tide times before you go and get your bait from the butchers in the village. National Trust members can park for free on the quayside.
BeWILDerwood has been on my list for ages, but we’re so far away it’s not really a feasible trip for us. But while we’re in Norfolk it’s a must do! Set in a huge forest, it’s an outdoor adventure playground, where your children’s imagination can run wild, with treehouses, storytelling, zip wires, boat rides, and so much more. It’s a complete fantasy land which is absolutely crammed full of activities for children and I know Max and Ben would love it.
ROARR! Dinosaur Adventure
Max loves anything dinosaur themed so I know the ROARR! Dinosaur Adventure will be right up his street. It has a dinosaur trail with lots of figures to discover, as well as an indoor play area, an outdoor splash zone, a small animal farm, a deer safari, and a high ropes activity. It sounds like we could spend the whole day there and still have plenty left to explore!
Blakeney Point Seal Trips
Short boat ride out to see the seals. Boats depart from Moreston Quay, and tickets can be purchased either at Blakeney Quay or the Anchor Inn in Moreston. Free parking at Moreston Quay for NT members.
Max is a big fan of a windmill and can be surprisingly motivated when it comes to climbing up a big hill to reach them, or climbing the steps to reach the top. As soon as I heard there was a windmill to explore, Bircham Windmill made it straight onto our list. It’s a spectacular looking windmill and is still in full working order, so you can climb to the top of the windmill and on a windy day, you can see all of the milling machinery turning and the sails going round. You can even bake your own bread, either from scratch, or if you have small children who are likely to get bored, they offer a quick Make and Bake option where you are given a piece of dough to knead and shape as you like, which the staff will then bake for you to take home.
The Poppy Line
We love a steam train ride and this one runs along the coast so is a lovely way to take in the coastal scenery. A steam line that runs along the coast from Holt to Sherringham. Some diesel trains also operate so check the timetable before you travel. Holt is a lovely Georgian market town with lots of independent shops and eateries. Sherringham is a victorian seaside town with a pebble beach (fab toy shop and life boat station).
Blickling Hall has been on my National Trust list for ages – it looks like a beautiful place to explore. The house looks spectacular, but the gardens are always my favourite, and with 4,600 acres of woodland and gardens to explore, there’s plenty to keep us busy. You can even hire bicycles to explore the grounds, which sounds like a wonderful way to get around.
I think we’re going to end up with quite a packed itinerary – we’ll have to make a return visit to make the most of it all. Do you have any must-visit spots that haven’t made the list? I’d love to hear!