I grew up in Norfolk, so I am more than slightly biased, but there’s no denying that it’s an amazing weekend destination. It’s a land of flat and gently rolling barley fields and poppies, home to the Bowie-name-checked Norfolk Broads, endless miles of golden sandy beaches, flint houses, thatched cottages, windmills, ancient churches, village greens and country pubs.
Norfolk is a county that has no motorways, gets the best of the British summer sun, and has produced national treasures as diverse as Admiral Lord Nelson, Stephen Fry and Alan Partridge. The pace of life is slow and gentle, and it sometimes feels like not much has changed since the 1950’s.
Start your weekend in the county city of Norwich, and wander along the ancient cobbled streets of Elm Hill. One of the most beautiful streets in England, it has a large collection of Tudor buildings and plenty of quirky shops to explore.
Stop for lunch at the historic and cosy Britons Arms – from here, stroll along the River Wensum or explore the historic Norman cathedral, with its magnificent cloisters and Cathedral Close. Next, head over to Magdalen Street and spend a couple of hours browsing amongst the many antique and vintage shops.
Next, take a mid-afternoon drive through scenic Norfolk villages, culminating in the stunning, historic and stylish Burnham Market. Stop here for refreshments at Tilly’s Cafe and watch the world go by – Burnham Market is known locally as “Chelsea on Sea” and is a regular haunt of British celebs. Finish your day with dinner and an overnight stay at Briarfields, Titchwell. Located on the peaceful North Norfolk coast, the hotel is close to RSPB Titchwell Marsh, home to rare birds including avocet, marsh harrier and bearded tit. Rooms at Briarfields are modern and stylish, and the staff are friendly and helpful.
Start your Sunday with a leisurely Briarfields breakfast and then head along the coast for a couple of miles to the beautiful Brancaster Staithe. Take a circular walk along the coastal path which runs amongst the peaceful marshes, past sleeping fishing boats, ruined barns, and back round through the village. Cottages here can literally sell in hours – I spotted the derelict one below recently, and have since been dreaming about doing it up (if I win the lottery). Stop for lunch at the gorgeous and atmospheric White Horse Inn, which overlooks the marshes and Norfolk’s endless blue skies. The menu includes fresh, locally caught mussels and excellent choices for vegetarians, as well as having a roaring fire in the winter and vintage bar billiards to keep you entertained (if you can work out the rules!).
Finally, take in the beautiful North Norfolk coast on a scenic drive to my home town, Cromer – a pretty and traditional English seaside town with a lovely sandy beach, famous for its crab fishing. Buy some fish and chips and enjoy the sunset from Cromer’s iconic pier before regretfully heading back to the real world.