I first visited North Norfolk with my Mum and Dad when I was a teenager. We stayed in Cley, near the windmill. There’s a few things I remember about that trip – the tomato soup I had for dinner one night, a tiny little antique shop in Stiffkey that had the loveliest garden, and the wide expanse of Holkham beach. My parents still have a couple of photos I took that weekend on the wall in their kitchen.
That first trip to Holkham beach is one I’ll never forget – it was cold, very windy, and almost deserted. I loved it. The short but sheltered walk through the pine forest, reaching the top of the hill, then suddenly having that huge and seemingly never ending beach laying in front of you – the sea still so far away you could barely see it.
It was quite a long time between my first trip to North Norfolk and my second – probably 10 years or so. The first holiday C and I went on together was to Wells-next-the-Sea, and since then we’ve been back a few times. We try to escape there once a year, and every year we never want to come home. Last week we had three nights at the stunning Victoria Inn – the nicest hotel I’ve ever stayed in.
Our first day involved lots of walking. We walked from the hotel up to Holkham park, and took a slow stroll through the woods towards Wells. It was slow because I kept having to stop to take photos, and to listen out for birds, and to not scare off ducks, and to look at spiders perched on top of dandelions. Once you get out of the woods of Holkham park you reach the top photo above – a tree-lined path that’s named on the OS map as Mousehill Plantation. That leads out on to a main road in to Wells, and we took a short detour through the local allotments (of course) before a wander around the town, and a stop at The Globe for lunch and some postcard writing. We took a route back along a bridleway through some fields and pack in to Holkham park. We walked through fields of sheep with not another human in site – we had the whole place to ourselves. We made it to Holkham hall, by which point my feet were protesting at the amount of walking, and took the buggy to the walled gardens. It’s nice to see the slow transformation of the gardens from when we visited last year, and decided we must go back in a couple of months to see it all in full bloom. On the way back out the park we came across the resident deer, and managed to get close enough to get a few photos before the cars driving past spooked them off. I’ve seen the deer at least 3 times before and this is the first time I’ve managed to get photos of them!
The next day we visited Wiveton Hall. A long with a lot of people we saw it on the TV programme Normal for Norfolk a few weeks earlier, and as it was only about 20 minutes from Holkham and close to somewhere else we wanted to visit we decided to stop in for a walk around the woodland and to the kitchen garden. It’s a walled garden on a smaller scale than Holkham, and was full of beautiful flowers and surrounded by the unmistakably Norfolk flint pebble walls. There was a circular potting shed in one corner that I could have happily lived in!
From there we drove on to the Wildflower Centre that we’d seen signposted on our drive in, and spent most of the rest of the day wandering around their gardens, meadows and along the crystal clear stream at the bottom of the hill. I was so tempted to dip my feet in, but I saved that for our next stop.
Holkham beach was empty. We walked up the sand dunes and took in the view, and couldn’t see a single other person around. Maybe North Norfolk was particularly deserted the weekend we were there, but it seemed like we kept getting these spectacular landscapes all to ourselves. I couldn’t resist taking off my shoes and socks and paddling in the sea, which was surprisingly warm. I splashed as far as I could up the inlet leading up the beach before we walked back to the hotel, and a massive bubble bath.
I’ve now decided my aim in life is to live somewhere surrounded by beautiful trees, not too far from the beach, with a small walled garden to potter in. Any generous rich people willing to make that happen for me, do get in touch!