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I am a big advocate of the staycation and Norfolk is the ultimate destination for this.
I live in Norfolk, so some might question the sanity of taking precious time off work… to go on holiday… where you live. But bear with me and trust that there is some logic to this. Norfolk is a fairly large county and I travel the long distance of 25 miles for this annual holiday. I live in the city of Norwich, and ‘holiday’ on the North Norfolk Coast (most beautiful place in the world, IMO). Beautiful villages, beautiful scenery and beautiful beaches.
My family are from Norfolk, but a lot of them have moved away. So every year my father hires the same cottage for a week and everyone sort of appears. Friends come from London, family travel to see us both from Norfolk and from further afield and a sort of dip in dip out situation occurs.
And read on as I try and justify why this makes sense.
The term travel deeper is used a lot nowadays. Is there anyone better equipped to find the ‘off the beaten track’ places than a local? I know the best places to eat, the best pubs and how I love to spend my time. It is the perfect place to relax and unwind. You are somewhere you totally comfortable with and know well. You know where to go and how to get the best out of the area. It is the perfect way to de-stress without the pressures of day to day life and the never ending nagging to do list, yet still with the comforts of home.
There is no long journey time, no jet lag, and so you can absolutely maximise the time you have got. I drive up to the cottage after work, it takes a wonderful 40 minutes, and am immediately in ‘holiday mode’ in time to go to the pub. Plus if I am really short on AL, I sometimes only take 3 days and commute for the remainder of the week.
Now let me describe to you why North Norfolk is the perfect place for the staycation (even if it isn’t a 40 minute drive for everyone). The cottage we stay in is in the beautiful little village of Morston. Not the most happening of places, but it does have one of my favourite pubs, as well as the quay with beautiful walks and even a Michelin star restaurant, although I have yet to venture to there.
North Norfolk geography
In my opinion there are two ‘halves’ of the coast and people tend to prefer one to the other. Not everyone will agree with this, but there you have it. In the middle is Holkham beach. One side is Holkham to Hunstanton and the other Holkham to Cromer (see map below). I very firmly fall into the second camp; it just has a more local feel. The distance my staycation covers is usually, the not very large, Holkham to Cley-Next-the-Sea.
Morston is located in between Blakeney and Wells-next-the-Sea.
How to get there
It is just over a 2.5 hour drive from London and actually a similar distance from the midlands (2.5 hours from Nottingham for example). Trains to Kings Lynn are just under two hours from London and then you can hop on the coast hopper bus to get along the length of the coast. This service is absolutely not 24 hours or even very regular, not in London anymore Toto, so do check the schedule. Driving would be recommended, as having a car in North Norfolk is definitely helpful.
Where to eat
We have a myriad of ‘favourite’ pubs to eat in, and all within a 7 mile drive of ‘cottage’. This list is therefore by no means exhaustive, but some great eats!
The Anchor, Morston
Reputedly has the best burger to be found on the coast. A lovely, cosy pub with one side very traditional and the other more of a dining area. Extremely dog friendly, lots of local food and drink and a cosy outdoor area.
Wiveton Bell, Wiveton
Lovely in both winter and summer. There is a fire area for the colder nights and a beautiful terrace for eating outside in the summer. Has a great selection of local Norfolk gins – I recommend the Black Shuck. Also dog friendly.
The Dun Cow, Salthouse
Great bar area and good food. In the summer you can’t book, but I would recommend the Cajun burger!
My favourite place to eat in the world, ever. I could go on about this place for ever. Incredibly unique, with Formica table cloths and bright coloured chairs. Food is served on Emma Bridgewater plates (always a win in my eyes) and is rustic, wholesome, local and filling. Plus the best chocolate cake in the world. On a sunny day, I could while away hours sitting outside looking out to sea. Booking is essential.
Caravan, Blakeney quay
In the summer months there is a caravan situated on the quay in Blakeney. Serving delicious bacon sandwiches and cups of tea. Basic and exactly what you need. Sit on plastic chairs in the car park. I love it!
French’s Fish and Chips, Wells-next-the-sea
The best fish and chips on the coast. There is a reason there is always a queue, even when the ones next door are empty. The best way to enjoy is to take out and eat with you feet dangling over the edge of the quay. Although, it’s always sausage for me as I don’t like fish.
What to do
Even without leaving Morston there are a couple of things I would recommend doing.
The main area of Morston is the quay – and here there are options! We have a boat, which we take out on the tide for water skiing and seal spotting.
Blakeney point is home to a colony of seals. There are different companies who run trips to go out and see them. I would recommend Beans, who operate from Morston quay.
The lovely guys at Norfolk etc can arrange sailing lessons to get you out on the water. Make sure to book in advance.
So so so many beautiful walks in this part of the world. My favourite two:
1. Walking from Morston – Blakeney – through Wiveton Hall (stop for cake!) – via Cley, checking out the windmill – back through Blakeney village and then back to Morston.
2. Start at Holkham and walk all the way along the beach to Wells-next-the-sea. Walk into wells and stop and have a drink on the deck of the Albatross, a floating Dutch former cargo ship in the quay. Then back through the woods to Holkham.
An absolute must in North Norfolk. Plenty of locations to do this – the quays in either Wells, Morston or Blakeney. But for my family (namely me, I am a stickler for tradition) the only spot is the bridge in Blakeney.
Fill bucket with water, try bacon to crabbing line, lower, pull up, scoop crabs with net, put crabs into bucket, empty bucket when getting too full. Repeat. Hours of fun right there.
Quite literally my favourite thing to do, grab plastic glasses with wine and wander down to the quay to watch the sunset. Absolutely beautiful and so peaceful.
Norfolk is famed for its beaches and with good reason.
Three of my favourite are within my above mentioned radius.
A stone beach, long and thin and the access point if you want to walk out to Blakeney Point. There are some awesome waves here sometimes and you can often spot a seal. My favourite beach; I love going here and just watching the power of the sea.
Beautiful beach huts line this beach, with the backdrop of the pine forest behind. Most of all I love walking along the beach and also exploring the forest behind. This beach is linked to my next recommendation.
Featured in many films, including the end of Shakespeare in Love. Huge and the epitome of the famous Norfolk big blue skies! A bit of a walk out to the sea, particularly at low tide but can’t beat a day of setting up camp in the dunes with a picnic.
If venturing outside of my radius there are many other beaches to be discovered! Brancaster, Hunstanton and Burnham Overy Staithe should all get a special mention.
So, as you can see, Norfolk is the perfect place to holiday! All the above places and photos are from quite literally within 7 miles from my centre point of Morston. And with such a huge county there is so much more you can see. Home is where the heart is and this makes it the perfect relaxing break!
Are you a fan of a stay-cation? Where do you like to go? Have a look at my trip to Cotswolds for further inspo!
If anyone is ever thinking of heading to Norfolk, let me know! I love to give tips on my favourite county.