A walk down the beach to Old Hunstanton
When the tide is low, it is very nice to go down to the beach and walk along the interesting and colourful cliffs to Old Hunstanton. The beach here is full of large stones covered by algas (they are not slippery, so it is fun to jump from one to another) and there are small animals like crabs hiding between the stones.
This is a relaxing possibility to start the day before exploring Old Hunstanton for example.
Holkham Hall, a classic 18th century Palladian style mansion is situated in a Deer Park on the North Norfolk coast. The Marble Hall is absolutely stunning, as well as the many beautifully furnished bedrooms and the old kitchen with original pots and pans.
Some of the rooms are still used by the family (Leicester) for receptions or guests staying overnight.
In nearly every room there is a nice lady explaining details about paintings, wall carpets etc., so it is not absolutely necessary to pay the GBP 2 for the audio guide.
Admission fee for the Hall: GBP 6,50
Admission fee for the Hall + Bygones Museum: GBP 10,00
Thornham is a quiet place popular with bird watchers or beach lovers. The beach has excellent sands and is reached after a mile long walk along the Norfolk Coastal Path.
Very beautiful scenery, not at all crowded and truly relaxing. Near the parking space is a small "harbour" which is only flooded when the tide is high, it is very picturesque!
The Norfolk Lavender Visitor Center is only a few minutes drive from Hunstanton, on the way to King's Lynn. It is said to be England's Premier Lavender farm with lavender and herb gardens, a Plant Centre, Tea Rooms and a very nice (though expensive) gift shop. More than 55 individual beds of herbs are displayed, many of the herbs can be purchased.
The admission to the center is free and it is open all year.
April to October: 10.00 am - 5.00 pm
November to March: 10.00 am - 4.00 pm
St. Mary's Church
St. Mary's Church in Old Hunstanton is one of the typically Norman churches. Built in the early 14th century and situated outside the town centre, this is a beautiful and peaceful place. The ceiling is made of wood (which I hadn't seen before) and at the west end of the nave there is a Norman font surrounded by a beautiful mosaic pavement. In the churchyard are two memorials which bear the testimony to the prevalence of smuggling in 1784. They are on graves of two men shot in the execution of their duties.
A Norman castle / ruin. It is a massive stone ringwork and bailey. To the east, a small square gatehouse is set in the bank with a fragment of the 14th century brick curtain wall to one side. In the inner enclosure are the foundations of a 11th century Norman chapel, hard against the bank.
The moats and hills surrounding the castle are beautiful, the walk arond the castle offers nice views.
The small church nearby as well as the old houses opposite the church are so romantic, too!
- Historical Travel
- Castles and Palaces
Taking The Sea Air
We Brits have a tradition of taking the sea air that goes back to victorian times. When the cities were trying to cope with all the new heavy industry and the air was dirty and people were suffering with all types of ailments, particularly associated with breathing, then a trip to the coast was often recommended to get some clean air in to your lungs. Its still refreshing today.
You can walk along the front for quite literally miles, picking your way along the beach and searching for crabs in the small pools left by the tide before choosing where to take some refreshment
- School Holidays
- Hiking and Walking
- Family Travel
In the summer I love to take the family to the green where the old war memorial is, get a cold beer from the Golden Lion pub and sit outside until the sun goes down.
The kids generally find similar aged friends to play with and mum and dad can relax while the sun sets. The view from the pub ( the oldest building in Hunstanton by the way ) over the green and down to the sea is best seen in the early evening light
- Family Travel
Take A Drive In To The Sea
In fact you don`t even need to go on to the beach to transfer to the sea without getting your feet wet. If you want to take a short sea trip you can just step off the promenade on to a wheeled vehicle which then trundles down the sand before gently settling in the water and taking you out on your chosen tour.
A 30 minute cruise along the coast is always a well attended trip although an hours cruise to the sandbanks to watch the sea lions is also very popular, particularly when the tide is favourable in the early evening
- Water Sports
- Family Travel
Old stumpy !
This is the view I always have in my head of Hunstanton pier. There was a pierhead building as well you understand, but this was the view that I grew up with when dragged to Hunstanton on holidays as a child.
Hunstanton must be one of the most unluckiest piers around. It's suffered terrible fires on several occasions (the lastest in 2002) and suffered a massive pounding during violent storms in 1978 that left it with a marooned island as above.
There is no denying that piers have something 'phallic' about them, but this one is now sadly castrated. Ouch.
A new tacky amusement arcade stand on the 'landside', with the pier stretching out into the North sea an impressive 15 feet.
What's out and about
Whilst I maybe quite disparaging about Hunstanton itself, there is much to visit around these here parts.
The North Norfolk coast itself, extending eastwards from here is an area of outstanding natural beauty. It is filled with quaint villages, busy towns and plenty of quiet areas to ramble and cycle.
If your not that energetic, the stately homes of Sandringham (the Queen's private residence) and Holkham hall are nearby. Walsingham (Englands 'Nazareth') is a short drive away, as is the Thursford collection. I could go on, but I'll leave you discover the delights of this county.
I often think of it as Devon, without the long distance drive.
Sea trip to see the seals
The 'Wash' is the name given to that hunge dint in the coastline of Eastern England between Norfolk and Lincolnshire. It's alot smaller than it used to be due to land reclaimations over the centuries. It is where, so the story goes King John lost the crown jewels - and they were never found ! It's also the site for the recent discovery of 'seahenge' , the ancient counterpart to Stonehenge.
It's probably the wildlife that attacts most tourists, however. The Wash is home to large colonies of seals inparticular.
One of the best ways to 'get up close' is to book a tour organised by Searles. They have five differing tours, and times are dependent upon the tides. Several of their tours use amphibious vehicles that trundle from the promenade, over the sands before launching into the North sea. I was always fascinated to watch them when sat on the beach building my sandcastles as a kid.
Walk from Old to New (or v.v)
Another great favorite from childhood. it's only a couple of miles along the sefront to walk between the brash 'new' Hunstanton and the old Hunstanton. The old village is far more genteel, and posseses a superb beach. The locals also pronounce the place as 'Hunts-ton' as opposed to 'Hun-stan-tun', to disassociate themselves with the pleby riff-raff in New Hunstanton.
The walk features some impressive ciffs, and you can walk along the top of the cliffs. Be careful to time your walk so that you don't get caught out by the tides at the most exposed point.
I must have been past the Lavender farm on the outskirts of Hunstanton dozens of time during my life. It always looks an attractive place to visit with its neat rows of purple flowers on very gentle (this is Norfolk !) slopes.
I must admit I have never been in. As my wife finds the smell of lavender to be positively repulsive, I don't suppose I ever will.
If you have an interest in the smelly stuff (and there are over 100 types here apparantly) then guided tours will show you the feilds, the drying and distilling process. The complex has the usual array of gift shops, cafes and playgrounds to keep the tourist hoardes happy enough.
Cristiano Ronaldo swims again
The seal sanctuary (or 'sea life centre') stands right on the front in Hunstanton. They save two or three seals each year and nurse them back to health. For that they must be applauded. Some get given names that seem appropriate to such animals - such as 'frosty', whilst in some years they go for something a bit different. Cristiano Ronaldo (as pictured) was saved last year, along with Peter Crouch. It's a good job it's not a donkey sanctuary as well. Previous years have included 'Homer' and 'Bart'.
The rest of the sea-life centre is a bit of a disappoint met, to be honest. A few tropical fish, a few manky penquins. A shark that wouldn't frighten a mouse, and a troope of otters. By the way : Did you know that otter poo comes out in luminescent green colour. That ast least was completely fascinating.
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