A weekend in Norfolk

A weekend in Norfolk

If you’ve ever been to Norfolk, you’ll know it's the best of both forest and coast - a truly enchanting place that encourages you to unwind, disconnect from your devices and enjoy what nature has to offer. If you’re looking to escape the hustle and bustle of city life for a weekend, Norfolk is the answer. Having spent the last four years living here, I'm here with all my insider intel on the very best places to sleep, shop, eat, drink and walk. If I were to visit Norfolk as a first-timer for a long weekend now, this is how I would spend it… 

Sleep 

Set on 30 acres of beautiful parkland in Breckland, South Norfolk, and surrounded by ancient woodland, Settle is home to three lovingly restored vintage railway carriages and a handcrafted lakeside cabin. Encompassing everything that is slow living, each one has been built using authentic materials from the owners’ salvage yard, and refurbished within every inch of its existence to absolute perfection. Expect heritage timber clad walls, muted tones, earthy textures, sleek contemporary fittings and clean lines - it combines rustic with luxury in a way that is hard to come by.

Spend the evening here doing exactly what this enclave of peace intends - switch off and settle down. Use the lack of phone signal to your full advantage and spend the evening off-grid, cosied up next to the fire pit with a good book, taking a long soak in the stone egg bath or playing cards on the wraparound deck with a glass of wine, before enjoying what promises to be the best night’s sleep of your life, amongst sumptuous amounts of Piglet In Bed’s linens of course.

After a well-deserved and much anticipated lie in, practice your morning meditation or awakening stretch on the private yoga deck, before a dip in the wood-heated bath - because what better way to start the day than a morning bath surrounded by birdsong? Fuel up on some porridge from the breakfast basket you were met with on arrival, before setting off for a day of exploring Norfolk. 

Coffee! 

Take Norfolk’s windy roads north towards the coast, stopping off in the charming market town of Holt on the way. For some of the very best coffee in Norfolk and potentially the smallest cafe you’ve ever stepped inside, stop by Cross Street UnionGrab some beach picnic rations and a bottle of organic wine for the evening from Star Plain Stores before continuing north to Stiffkey. Warning, you’ll most likely be tempted by Holt’s offering of independent shops on your way through - you’ll want absolutely everything you come across in Norfolk Natural Living’s little trio of dreamy lifestyle stores. 

Shop 

Located in the quintessentially British, coastal village that is Stiffkey, lives Stiffkey Stores - one of Norfolk’s best kept secrets. What started as a traditional village shop and post office, has now become a haven for homewares and thoughtfully curated gifts - flowers, books, candles, woven baskets, the list goes on. While also serving its purpose with the everyday essentials, the store stocks local, organic produce and artisan foods - perfect for a mid-morning pastry, and if you’re anything like me, more coffee. 

Walk 

You’re completely spoilt for choice along the Norfolk coastline for walks, and you really can’t go wrong with any of the beaches in my opinion. If you’re after a more traditional seaside experience, head to Wells - its wide stretch of sand is lined with classic, colourful beach huts and is only a short walk from the town’s offering of fish & chip shops and arcades. If you’re up for more than a light stroll, amble from Wells to Holkham. Walk the soft, white sand, or wander through the pine forest that hugs the beach - it’s particularly special when dappled with sunlight and feels almost magical on a sunshine-filled day. The landscape becomes a bit more wild and rugged as you near Holkham, where the undulating sand dunes are backed by a nature reserve and the historical Holkham estate. 

Now for my insider intel…if you want to enjoy Norfolk at its absolute finest, away from the crowds and further into the depths of Norfolk’s unspoilt landscape, then drive a little further down Wells Road, beyond Holkham, until you reach Burnham Overy Staithe. Follow the mile long walk along the sea wall down, which sits between marsh land, until you reach the beach. The beach itself is wild and windy, incredibly peaceful and just about one of my favourite places in the world. Take the circular route back up the sea wall and finish at The Hero for a well-deserved pint and bowl of chips. 

Eat 

On your way back to the restful Settle, stop at The Pigs in Edgefield for some delicious, locally sourced food, and if you’re feeling particularly luxurious, a treatment in their Spa (although, Settle feels more than spa-like enough for me). 

If you’re happy to drive further afield, then The Gunton Arms would be my number one recommendation - a traditional British pub set in a one thousand acre deer park. Owned by renowned art dealer, Ivor Braka, the interiors are eclectic and cosy, with art filled walls, fireside seating and moody decor - all the elements you’d eagerly expect from a stereotypically charming country pub. The menu uses local ingredients and seasonal produce, with venison from the deer park and beef from the local herd at Blickling cooked over a large open fire. Ask to sit fireside in the Elk Room to have your dinner cooked in front of you (admittedly, probably not for the faint hearted or vegetarians amongst you) Seafood, mussels and Cromer crab are caught by local fishermen - the seafood linguine is a dish I can vouch for!
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