Travel: Lose track of time in the wilds of Norfolk
Hannah Stephenson and her family lose track of time in the wilds of Norfolk
Tucking into freshly dressed crab in Cromer, it occurs to me that you could eat your way around north Norfolk.
From mussels in Morston and Stiffkey, shrimps in Sheringham and samphire – a kind of sea asparagus – found along the north Norfolk coast, to good old fish and chips or tooth-rotting sticks of rock in the kiss-me-quick seaside resort of Great Yarmouth, no culinary stone is left unturned.
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But to work up an appetite for such gastronomic delights, I'm well aware of the need for some serious exercise on our travels.
Indeed, that isn't difficult in Norfolk. Cycling routes abound, bracing coastal walks are an everyday occurrence and you're spoiled for choice with nature trails through acres of protected wildlife reserves. It's hard not to be active.
Making our base in a luxurious Victorian cottage in Overstrand, about a mile-and-a-half from the seaside town of Cromer, famous for its crab, it's great to be just far enough out of town to miss the crowds but able to zip in by bike or walk the vast stretch of sand and pebble beach which links the spots.
Overstrand, a pretty village which houses a church, a pub and a post office-cum-village shop, also boasts a beautiful beach, but for more seaside adventures we take a bracing walk along this wild stretch of coastline where the vast sky meets the North Sea.
Of course, no trip to Norfolk would be complete without a visit to the famous Broads, a series of navigable rivers and broads (lakes).
We drive to Wroxham, the capital of the Broads, where we hire a day cruiser equipped for up to eight passengers.
A day on the Broads is like stepping back in time. It reminds me of an Enid Blyton adventure – mugs of hot chocolate, a sense of adventure on the water as the kids try their hand at driving the boat.
Once we've had our fill of the water, walks and wildlife, we venture back to Cromer, which grew up as a fishing village and became a popular holiday destination in the early 19th century.
With its famous pier, built in 1902, Cromer still offers a traditional End of Pier show at the Pavilion theatre through the summer months as well as other shows out of season. As well as being famous for its crab, Cromer is also famous for its lifeboats, which have been running from Cromer for two centuries.
Venturing further into town we find Mary Jane's, the best fish and chip shop in Cromer and take ours down to the seafront to scoff on one of the many benches.
Then we put on our walking boots once more and set off along the beach front home.