If you drive north for a couple of hours from Sussex and wind through the low mists of the man-made Thetford Forest, you come upon a painted sign which reads simply: Settle. Following the beautifully maintained drive at the end of which you would expect to encounter a glamorous weekend residence, you arrive at Settle Norfolk. Instead of a fusty country pile, what you find is a handcrafted lakeside cabin and 3 restored railway carriages which nestle in landscaping that has been a labour of love spanning almost 3 decades. John and Jo, the owners and creators of this enclave of peace, have put their respective professions as salvage yard owner and floral designer into every inch of Settle’s 30 acres. Walking through the forest tracks, amongst the shelters and round the lily pond, you can see how much effort, love and attention to detail has been put into creating this place which promises for you to reconnect with nature, unplug and settle down.
Unsurprisingly, there is no phone signal. However, a brisk walk through the parkland followed by a delicious pub dinner makes for a great night’s sleep and after sinking into the large, Piglet in Bed linen-swathed bed, it was easy to drift off into a restful sleep wrapped up in the beautifully silent and unpolluted darkness of Norfolk.
Morning brings with it hunger and the small fire pit on the porch performs beautifully at grilling up some juicy sausages to complement the breakfast basket crammed with delicious local goodies. That combined with some carriage brewed coffee was the perfect start to a day of exploring. Norfolk is an outdoor person’s dream. So much more than the broads it is famous for. Walks through the surrounding lowland pine forests are perfect for a couple wanting to reconnect and for families alike, beautiful beaches such as Holkham are perfect for whiling away an afternoon with a beachcombing stroll, even in mid-October. And the seafood… simply delicious, especially when enjoyed in a local pub with a crisp glass of white wine.
Evening is a calm affair spent playing cards and catching up and the next day, after a bowl of organic porridge from the breakfast basket and a much needed cup of tea, is spent exploring the quintessentially British market towns and villages of south Norfolk.
It would be easy to spend a week, even a fortnight is such an enchanting place and check out came far too swiftly. Norfolk is the best of both forest and beach and this time spent wandering, chatting and reconnecting, away from technological distractions, is most definitely time well spent.