5 Reasons to visit Norfolk
Date Posted: 06/05/2015
Photo Credit: VisitEngland/ Broads Authority/Bill Smith
From walking in the footsteps of Gwyneth Paltrow to visiting seal colonies, the county in the east of England has lots to offer groups. Here are our top 5 things to do in Norfolk
Reasons to visit Norfolk include celebrity endorsements and the chance to rub shoulders with the royals.
This estate has been home to four generations of British monarchs since 1862 and is currently the Queen’s winter retreat.
Visitors can view the large collection of porcelain, glass, Russian gilt and bronze the royal family received as gifts throughout the centuries. There are also a number of portraits to admire, drawn by leading court painters of the past such as Heinrich von Angeli and Franz Winterhalter.
There are guides in every room who will describe the history of Sandringham House to visitors. However, groups can book private out of hours guided tours allowing guests behind the scenes access to the Edwardian rooms. Afterwards, parties can book a dinner in the tea room or restaurant for a sit down meal or buffet.
The estate operates guided tours of its gardens on Wednesdays and Saturdays at 11am and 2pm, taking guests to areas such as the Norwich Gate and the Walled Garden which is not included in the main garden. Group tours can be arranged for alternative times with prior booking.
Sandringham House accommodates group visits and offers a variety of benefits including discounted entry for parties of 20 or more and free admission for the GTO and driver.
The Broads in Norfolk is a certified National Park made up of over 125 miles of navigable lock-free waterways formed by the flooding of peat workings. Its water boat trips and open sky views even attracted Hollywood couple Ashton Kutcher and Mila Kunis in 2014.
The Broads boast a diverse array of animal and plant habitats. Boat tours down will give you the opportunity to see some of the UK’s rarest wildlife and over 250 species of plant, including the marsh harrier and the nationally protected fen orchid.
Parties don’t have to be solely consigned to a boat, there are over 300km of footpaths which will take you on nature trails, circular walks and long distance hikes including a 36 mile ‘Boudicca Way’ trip from Norwich to Diss. These walks will allow you to visit the surrounding towns and villages and discover more about the landscape and Norfolk’s boating heritage.
Norfolk is home to Holkham Beach – recently voted best beach in the UK by over 100 travel journalists. Groups can walk across the sandy plains, following in the footsteps of Gwyneth Paltrow (the beach was the location for the final scenes of the film Shakespeare in Love,) and other actors. The Eagle Has Landed, The Avengers and the 2008 television series Kingdom were all filmed on Holkham Beach.
The beach is bordered by Holkham National Nature Reserve which stretches from Burnham Norton to Blakeney. The reserve’s foreshore, dunes, saltmarshes and pine woodlands have become habitats for a number of rare animals and plants. Visitors walking the main track will see birds and butterflies and, depending on the season, may see pink-footed geese, the matted sea lavender and natterjacks.
Within Blakeney National Nature Reserve, is a four mile long sand and shingle spit which has provided a breeding ground for a large colony of between 500 to 800 seals. As of winter 2014/15, Blakeney Point became the largest seal colony in England.
The area is also famous for its bird life with Arctic terns, brent geese and oyster catchers migrating to the area over the seasons.
Groups can pre-book locally operated ferry trips from Morston Quay which allows parties to get good views without disturbing the seals and birds. There are also seal ferry trips which run from Hunstanton.
Aside from the wildlife, you can visit the Morston Quay’s Visitor Centre to learn about the reserve’s history and its extensive conservation work. There is also an observation tower which offers panoramic views of Blakeney Point and the lifeboat house.
The Brecks is renowned for its unique microclimate which makes the area one of the driest places in all of Britain and is home to over 65 per cent of the UK population of stone curlews and almost 40 per cent of the UK woodlark population. The area has many attractions for group visitors.
Thompson Common in the Brecks boasts the distinctive prehistoric Pingos – ice mounds which grow in winter before melting in summer which results in the formation of a crater like pond.
Thetford Forest in the south of Norfolk is the largest lowland pine forest in England. Parties can tackle the Go Ape! assault course, go on an organised mountain bike expedition or simply take a stroll on one of the forest’s 26 walking trails.
Also groups can take a guided tour of the nearby Grime’s Graves, the only Neolithic flint mine open to the public in Britain. You will learn about the ancient industries practised in the mine up to 5,000 years ago before descending into the public pit on a nine metre ladder to see the flint.
There is a 15 per cent discount for groups of 11 with free entry for the GTO and coach driver.
For more information on group holidays to Norfolk visit www.visitnorfolk.co.uk