It’s a very lucky place you know, I cannot count the number of times a bird pooped on me, admittedly on a the oldest North Sea clipper docked in the quay, but all that aside I have absolutely fallen in love with North Norfolk!
We stayed in the town of Wells-Next-The-Sea – an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty boasting some of Europe's most extensive saltwater marshes, and miles of sandy beaches, all teeming with birdlife! Despite its name, it is actually quite a trek to the actual sea itself – but we took the Mini Railway to the delight of the kids, which runs half way there and walked the rest, where a beautiful sandy beach awaited.
The accommodation we chose was a charming cottage by the Buttlands. It was superbly equipped with games and books to keep our little ones entertained, allowing us adults to relax after our fun packed daytime adventures, of here are our five favourites:
Crabbing very much comes onto our list of things to do in Norfolk with kids. Equipped with buckets, crab lines and bacon and fish bait we were ready to entice them in. We did this onboard the Albatross a 114 year old Pub-like ship, permanently moored alongside the quay. The kids had fun comparing the size of crabs with the other kids on board, whilst us grown ups enjoyed a Dutch beer!
Next up is BeWILDerwood near Wroxham. A wild and imaginative outdoor adventure park, with tree houses and intriguing characters, from the magical series of children's books written by local author- Tom Blofeld. You enter the enchanted villages of BeWILDerwood across the lake on a purple boat. Whilst going through the woodlands, we learnt of some of the stories of Boggles' and Twiggles and saw Mildred the Crocklebog. Back on dry land, it was honestly hard to keep up with the kids as they scrambled under ropes, whizzed down slippery slides and along zip wires and running across suspended bridges. A good five hours were enjoyed here, listening to the storytelling, joining in with the Magical Puppet Parade, finding our way through the Muddle Maze, and building dens in the forest. My summary is that Yes, BeWILDerwood is fairly expensive for what it is, but the kids can let their imaginations run wild, and ours thoroughly enjoyed the whole concept and the sense of freedom of this enchanting outdoor tree house adventure.
No trip to Norfolk could be without a trip to experience the Grey and Common seals at Blakeneys Point. The seal trips are tide dependent and we needed to wait some time for the boat having got delayed when the tide had changed. We were relieved to see the boats appear around the bend, as the kids excitement was probably beginning to get to the other 60 passengers! Once onboard and seated, we headed across the estuary, which is relatively calm, getting choppier as we neared the point. I believe I got voted “the most wet”–which added to the fun but a couple of tips, take a waterproof mac and don’t sit too near the front. After crossing the estuary, we could see the common seals basking on the beach, and on our arrival they entered the water and appeared to be putting on a show for us. The boat then headed around the other side, where my four year old must have counted a 100 seals and as the boat takes several trips pass the seals, everyone on both sides gets a great view. This is a fabulous way to spend an hour or so, and the kids had a wonderful time, not just the seeing the seals but the whole adventure – This trip definitely got our “Seal of approval”.
Next, is a journey on the historic steam train along what is known as the Poppy Line. This five mile track was built by William Marriott in 1887 and runs through some of Norfolk’s most stunning coastal countryside. There is a choice of steam train or Diesel, and with a Red Rover ticket, you can travel up and down the track all day stopping at whichever stations you choose. The kids chose the steam train of course, so we chuggered from Holt, through the historic stations, seeing a railway museum, signal box museum, a model train set along the way. Arriving in Sheringham, the railway's headquarters, we stopped quickly in children's activity coach before taking a stroll down the high street to walk along the promenade, and a dip in the sea.
Our last is Holkham Hall or Mansion - designed by William Kent for Thomas Coke, the 1st Earl of Leicester in the 18th century. The grounds house a Bygones Museum, located in its’ stable block, which was built by the second Earl in the 1850s to accommodate the carriages, carriage horses and riding horses of the visitors that came to the Hall. This area now houses a good collection of amazing exhibits from household implements, agricultural tools, mechanical toys, to vintage cars and massive steam engines. The kids found the objects fascinating, and enjoyed being able to clamber on board the fire engine and tractor. We toured the grounds, and jumped on the free oversized golf buggy to and from the walled garden, which in itself was an adventure, having the kids in fits of giggles as they held onto their hats. Luckily on the day of our visit, the food festival was on, so there were plenty of small livestock on-hand and free activities for the kids – as well as Holkham Halls’ free new and excellent Woodland Play Area – Should the children not have already had enough of tree houses in the sky, high level walkways and zip-wires! Entry to Holkham is free, parking is £2.50
In summary, with heaps to do, welcoming pub gardens and cafés willing to cater and entertain the younger members of the family – We vote North Norfolk an excellent place for family holidays and adventures!
For more information and recommended family hotels in Norfolk, visit our Norfolk Destination page.