Things to see and do (but not by the sea)

Blickling Estate

Make the most of your Norfolk break

A trip to Norfolk is an opportunity to reconnect and destress. There is no doubt that the pace of life in Norfolk can be slower – not for those providing the service, but certainly for those enjoying a break.

There is something about wandering along a wind-swept beach, looking for pretty pebbles or jewel-like shells that just transports you back to a place in your life when time seemed to go that little slower.

And in the many cafes, bars and restaurants, there is a laid-back feel to life that seems to have disappeared from many of our cities and towns. Even in the bustling and uber-cool city of Norwich, there is a sense that no-one is real going to rush you. It is a county where you have time to take a breath and look around.

While Norfolk is a county that is ripe for exploration, we thought it would be helpful to offer advice on some of the things you can do on your trip. For the purposes of this article, we are not mentioning any of Norfolk’s beautiful beaches as we feel they are a given. Instead we will look at some of the places you may want to visit if it really is too wet, cold or windy to brave the elements.

 

Norwich Cathedral

Norwich’s magnificent Romanesque Cathedral is an awe-inspiring, welcoming building with spectacular architecture, magnificent art and a fascinating history. It is set in magnificent gardens and visitors of all faiths and none are welcome.

One of the finest complete Romanesque cathedrals in Europe, with the second tallest spire and largest monastic cloisters in England, it houses more than a thousand beautiful medieval roof boss sculptures.

The cathedral plays host to a number of events throughout the year, including orchestral concerts, choral concerts, jazz ensembles and lectures. You can also take a free guided tour and learn about how the Cathedral survived riot, war, plague and fire, and its work today. Tours are available Monday to Saturday every hour between 11.00am and 3.00pm and last approximately one hour. There is disabled access to activities all year.

Happisburgh Owls

Run by a dedicated team of experts in owl care, the Happisburgh Owl centre is a place where you can really get to see the 16 beautiful owls up close and in a non-threatening environment.

Owner Sandra Dalzell says: “We provide something very different to many other Bird of Prey establishments. If you are looking for a large Falconry centre then we are definitely not for you.

“If however you are looking for a truly wonderful three hours, being up close and personal with probably some of the tamest Owls you will find, then look no further. All of our beautiful birds have been hand raised by myself from the age of 10 days. None are rescued; all have been captive bred by reputable breeders here in the U.K.”

North Norfolk Railway Sheringham

Built at the start of the 19th century, the North Norfolk Railway offers a 10.5 mile round trip by steam train (vintage diesel trains on some journeys) through an area of North Norfolk designated as being of outstanding natural beauty. There are historic stations, a museum telling the story of the railway line, a museum signal box and a children’s activity carriage.

This is a must for train-spotters, lovers of history or people who simply want to travel the beautiful countryside via a unique form of transport.

Blickling Estate

The red-brick mansion and ancient yew hedges sit at the heart of a magnificent garden and historic park in the beautiful Bure meadows. The estate covers 4,777 acres and has been farmed or managed for centuries by the various owners of Blickling Hall.

Possibly, Blickling Hall is best known as the birth place of Anne Boleyn but among its other famous or notorious inhabitants were Sir John Fastolf, who made a fortune in the 100 Years War and Philip Kerr, 11th marquess of Lothian, who is believed to have been instrumental in persuading Winston Churchill to meet with Franklin Roosevelt and hasten an end to the Second World War.

You can learn all about Blickling Hall’s rich historical past as well as explore the grounds on foot or by bicycle. But watch out for any ghostly figures, it is said that every year, on the anniversary of her execution, Anne Boleyn’s headless ghost arrives at Blickling in a carriage driven by an equally headless coachman. But she hasn’t lost her head completely in the afterlife—she carries it along with her during her hauntings.