I was very lucky that much of my childhood was spent living in North West Norfolk, a place that as a very young child we visited regular taking our caravan up from the outskirts of London pre-M25 and heading up to the coastal road, setting up the caravan and then spending a week or a couple of week visiting the coast. As I got older and got my driving license some of my first road trips were spent driving and visiting the areas along the coast and it’s something that we’ve done parts of it with the kids and it is wonderful.
Here’s our North Norfolk Coastal Road Trip with ideal locations to stop and visit with the kids. We’re starting in King’s Lynn and moving around to Cromer.
King’s Lynn is a historic market town dating back to the Roman Times, formerly called Bishops Lynn in the 16th Century it became one of the most important ports in England including the starting point for the pilgrims heading to Canada and founding Vancouver – the shopping area in King’s Lynn is called Vancouver Centre after the leader of this trip. In the town, there are many things to see including the Red Mount, South Gates, Corn Exchange, Customs House, Tuesday Market Place. I would recommend taking a historic walk around the town to find out extra facts like about the burning of the witches in the Tuesday Market Place and the location of the Heart in the House in the Tuesday Market Place (always fascinated me as a kid).
King’s Lynn has many different hotels, B and B’s and hostels depending on your budget there is plenty to choose from.
Castle Rising Castle
Possible one of the most historic stops on our route is Castle Rising Castle located just outside of King’s Lynn. It is a medieval fortress built in 1138 and steeped in History. Connected closely with royalty, including being owned by the mother of Edward III and was later sold by Henry VIII to the Duke of Norfolk where it fell into disrepair. Today it is partly built and you can wander around the grounds and parts of the castle seeing this icon of British History.
Whether you just want to run wild in the FREE estate woods and grounds or take a trip to the country estate of the British Monarchy there is so much to do. Every time we head to visit my parents this is on our visit list whether it’s covered in snow and we are the only people there or the sun is blazing and the paddock in front of Sandringham House gates is packed full of holiday makers it’s perfect for a day out – it’s one of our favourites find out about the appeal of the estate as well as our recommendation for camping in the area.
From Sandringham, we head up to Hunstanton.
Hunstanton is a Victorian Sea Side town, there are two parts to the town the newer Hunstanton which is filled with shops selling beach wares, rock, fish and chips as well as a leisure centre, aquarium and mini-golf courses and Old Hunstanton the original village of Hunstanton that still holds it’s pre-Victorian seaside town charm.
There are plenty of different accommodations to find in Hunstanton from camping – so many summers our Girl Guide Camp was in Old Hunstanton at a fabulous campsite backing onto the village church, to B and B’s in the old victorian townhouses and static and mobile caravan parks.
Sea Life Hunstanton
One of the smaller Sea Life Centres in the UK – another place that holds dear memories for me, my first job as a “Marine Biologist” was working as an Aquarist (curator of aquariums) here during the summer seasons before I headed off to University. With sharks, crocodiles, penguins, seals and a seal hospital there is plenty to see. If it’s not warm then it’s a great visit and your ticket gets you repeated entry to the centre for the day.
Of the two parts of Hunstanton I much prefer old Hunstanton from the Le Strange Arms Hotel and Mariners Arms Pub to the beach huts hidden amongst the sand dunes and the coast guard lifeboat station there is plenty to experience and then there is the beach – from the cliffs and wave cut platforms heading towards Hunstanton to the miles of flat beach where in the winter it becomes an arena for kite-boarding.
A little on from Hunstanton is the town of Holme and a Norfolk Wildlife Trust Nature Reserve of Holme. Original the site of SeaHenge – one of the most important recent prehistoric monuments and a natural version of Stonehenge. It has since been removed to preserve as although staying intact for years and years under the sand as the tides have changed and the sea levels changing it became exposed and started to deteriorate. Find out more about the 21st Century BCE here on Wikipedia. Today though apart from information at the Norfolk Wildlife Trust Visitors Centre there isn’t much to see of that monument but the Nature Reserve is fantastic – with some rare Natterjack Toads as well as a beautiful beach there is a touch of wilderness to it and it’s ideal to really see the Norfolk Skies over the sea which seem to go on for miles and miles.
Drastically changed after the storms of late 2013 where there was once wetlands and brackish water lakes with sand dunes the storms washed away the dunes and instead flats of land as far as the eye can see growing new marshlands. Titchwell is fantastic for bird watching but also for seeing smaller and more friendly common seals in the summer months.
Burnham Overy Staithe
A quaint English Village that has so much importance in history – a mile to the south-east lies the town of Burnham Thorpe the birthplace of Admiral Lord Nelson, and from letters and transcripts it’s known that Lord Nelson learnt to row and sail in Burnham Overy Staithe. With lovely pubs and information about Lord Nelson as well as walks along the beach and along the coastal path there is plenty to see and do in this small town.
A little along the coast is the town of Wells-next-the-sea with an estuary and small harbour that has traditional fishing boats as well as in my opinion THE BEST Fish and Chip Shop in Norfolk it is a lovely town and heading up along the Estuary there is a lovely beach at the end – like much of the Norfolk Coast seaside towns this is backed by Victorian Beach Huts which people still use and keep to let them change in peace as well as have a cuppa whilst they are at the beach.
Holkham Nature Reserve and Beach
Backed by some of the native UK pines this is one of my favourite childhood beaches. With miles and miles of sand before the sand dunes and then more miles of sand with pools that form and warm up when the sea washes out it was where we spent much of our summers. If you don’t like crowds love the sea and want to have space to play and have fun then this is the place to go.
Read all about visiting Holkham Hall in the Autumn although it’s great year round it’s extra special when the deer are in rut.
If you are doing the road trip along the coast this is a must stop destination – Blakeney Point is a nature reserve which hosts the largest colony of Common and Grey Seals in the area. During the summer common seals are beached on the shore nursing their pups, the winter months see grey seals doing the same. Taking a boat from the town you head out to the point often seeing the seals playing in the water around the wake of the little boats. Arriving at the point you are set ashore at a designated area to view the wildlife (although no one told the wildlife that there is designated areas! which means you get really close to them) and then back on to see a little more of the seals with their pups.
North Norfolk Railway
Although marked on our map I would really recommend starting in Holt and returning back to Holt. Sheringham is a lovely seaside town with a stony beach, but plenty to see around the town and also if it’s raining there is Sheringham Splash a leisure pool with wave machine and flume (you don’t get many local pools like that!). Holt although having a pretty high street doesn’t have the attractions to spend some time there. Watch out of times but even if you go from Sheringham and return straight away you get to ride on a steam train along the original tracks through the British Countryside.
We finished our tour in Cromer. Like Hunstanton, this is another Victorian seaside town but unlike Hunstanton due to support the traditional pier still stands. Growing from the late 14th Century Jetty in the 19th Century a full pier was built with entertainment. Recently refurbished it was affected by the 2013 storms but repairs have been made and it’s now fully operational and back to the former glory. Filled with History – from the bones of prehistoric animals to second world war bombings there is lots to find out in the town and finish our North Norfolk Road Trip.
Summer Road Trips Around the World
We are linking up and joining in with Summer Road Trips Around the World today hosted by Playground Park Bench.