Best of 2016: Spring in Norfolk, England
Holkham Beach, where Gwenyth Paltrow took her Shakespeare in Love star turn
Looking for a spring getaway that’s off the beaten path, yet still somewhat familiar? Norfolk is a weekend getaway for British Royals, and regular rural-seeking weekenders alike. It’s an easy train ride from Kings’ Cross Station in London, landing under two hours later on the platform at Kings’ Lynn. It’s the route Queen Elizabeth and her entourage take, yes, just like regular folks, to get to her weekend home!
Click through for five reasons to visit Norfolk. Book now, but visit in the late spring, when everything is open and in bloom. (For more information, see VisitBritain.com.)
1. It’s the Royals’ weekend getaway
2. It’s Romantic
After a visit to Sandringham House, take the less than an hour drive to Wells-next-the-Sea. If Holkham Beach doesn’t sound familiar, it should. This is the beach where Gwyneth Paltrow took her star turn and Oscar-winning performance in Shakespeare in Love. Miles of flat sand, rolling dunes and cloud-watching skies make this the perfect spot to stroll hand in hand. No wonder Holkham Beach was voted Best Beach in Britain by UK travel writers.
Check into The Victoria Inn in Wells-next-the-Sea (even the name sounds romantic!). Located at the gateway of Holkham Park, smack dab within a 5-minute drive of both Holkham Hall and Gardens and Holkham Beach, this 10-bedroom member of The Great Inns of Britain has recently undergone a transformation that’s added 10 additional bedrooms in the ancient house next door to the main house. And don’t miss dinner. The dining room here makes the most of the ocean’s bounty.
3. It’s Relaxed
Undulating country roads are lined with hedgerows, green fields are dotted with cows grazing, and seaside routes feature stretches of ocean as far as the eye can see. Take the easy drive along the coast road for these views from Wells-next-the-Sea to Brancaster, but en route, detour inland to Burnham Market.
4. It’s Really Authentic
After lunch, head back to the coast to Brancaster, to check into the Titchwell Manor. This Victorian farmhouse on the coast – you can see the ocean across the marshes from the front door – features 27 rooms both in the main house and in the herb garden cottage.
The country retreat’s restaurant, with head chef Eric Snaith at the helm, is also a member of The Master Chefs of Great Britain.
5. It’s Remarkable
The views of the North Norfolk never get old – moody clouds hang low in otherwise blue skies, miles of sandy beach, like those on Brancaster Beach, above, and golden fields lead you to towns where you can get the latest in coffee culture or throwback to historic times.
Inland, in Great Bircham, you’ll find the Bircham Windmill. More than 100 years old, the windmill is one of the few that is still in working order and the baked goods still contain flour milled here. www.birchamwindmill.co.uk
In the market town of Holt, you may just run into a royal – Kate, the Duchess of Cambridge, to be exact. She’s been known to go on the hunt for antiques here and the surrounding countryside, including The O.D Stables in the grounds of Bayfield Hall en route to Holt. In town, Vintage finds can be had at Richard Scott Antiques and Old Town fashions.
And don’t forget to be on your best behaviour. You never know which Royal may be boarding the train in King’s Lynn at the end of the weekend!