Norfolk Royal Coast things to do
In Royal Norfolk you can find plenty of family entertainment, attractions for animal lovers, bird watchers, gardeners and those interested in history, the arts and culture.
At Snettisham Park visit the working farm and feed the young animals, collect eggs, groom ponies and in spring watch the arrival of the new born lambs and bottle feed the orphans. Take a trip on the deer safari and meet a herd of over 60 hinds and 2 stags, watch out for the new born calves that arrive in late spring and summer. There are also three different trails to walk, a visitor centre and café.
In Hunstanton, known locally as Sunny Hunny, visit the re-opened Sea Life Sanctuary, badly damaged in the sea storms of 2013 the new centre now means that you get up close and personal to some of the residents … view the seals underwater in their new enclosure, visit the ‘touch’ pool, walk through a wall of piranha fish if you dare! and don’t forget to see the otters in their new home. Take a walk around Hunstanton’s Horticultural Trail, a 1.5 mile route that takes you to 14 different locations in the town, including a specially designed Sensory Garden with opportunities to touch, hear and smell the plants and sculptures.
Also from Hunstanton don’t miss the opportunity to go seal watching. Searle’s Sea Tours will take you from land to sea on The Wash Monster, a converted WW11 amphibious vehicle that shows you the coastline from a different perspective, as well as visiting the local sea colony – who’s watching who?
Travel a little further south along the coast and find your way to the Ringstead Downs Nature Reserve, set in a deep sided chalk valley, it supports a diverse range of plants and animals, including over 20 species of butterflies and is home to some of our most endangered species of birds, such as the yellowhammer, the white throat and the linnet. Other great places for birdwatchers are the RSPB Titchwell Nature Reserve with a variety of habitats that attract Marsh Harriers in the spring and summer and large numbers of over-wintering ducks and geese. The Snettisham RSPB Reserve to the south looks out onto the vast wilderness of The Wash and is one of the best locations to view the thousands of waders that roost on the shingle banks and around the gravel pit islands.
Norfolk Lavender is now world famous and at the dedicated centre at Heacham you can enjoy the lavender gardens, visit the Lavender Oil Distillery and view the National Lavender Collection and Herb Garden. As well as everything lavender, also take a look at the landscaped Meadow Garden and stop by at Animal Farm, home to creatures from all corners of the globe. Finish your day out with a visit to the café, for delicious foods cooked with locally sourced produce from the nearby Walsingham Farm Shop and don’t forget to have a Norfolk cream tea with freshly baked lavender scones of course!
If windmills are your thing and baking is your passion then don’t miss a visit to Bircham Mill, which looks much as it did over 100 years ago but now stands alone, where once it stood amongst 100’s. Found on the outskirts of Great Bircham it is a fine, fully-sailed, working mill; you can climb its five floors to the top, marvel at the breath-taking views, learn about its history and see the sails in action on windy days. The children’s bakery corner is a popular activity, where children can try out their baking skills and take home the results! Open from March each year Bircham Mill is a captivating turn back in time.
A wonderful day out can be had at two grand estates in the area. Sandringham Royal Estate has been the private retreat of British monarchs since it was built in 1870 by King Edward V11 and today you can visit the main house (April –October), the 60 acre gardens with its mix of formal and informal planting, see the vintage collection of royal cars and visit medieval Sandringham Church, where the family worship when they are in residence. Add in 240 acres of parkland, which is open all year round for the family to enjoy and it all adds up to an intriguing look into royal life.
Equally not to be missed is the splendid Palladian Houghton Hall, current home to the 7th Marquis of Cholmondeley but originally built by the first Prime Minister of Great Britain, Sir Robert Walpole in 1720. The interiors are much as they were when the house was first built with many of the original furniture and fabrics still in place, as well as a considerable art collection. Whilst here, don’t miss the Soldier Museum, the largest collection of model soldiers in the world, the award winning 5 acre walled garden, The Stables, the Sculpture Park and the Deer Park and ancient woods.
If you would like to try your hand at glass blowing then visit the Caithness Crystal Centre at Kings Lynn. Here you can see the professional glass blowers and master craftsmen at work and then get creative yourself. Children can try making a friendship ball and adults can tackle a whisky tumbler or a paperweight – the results will be as individual as you are and who knows you may discover a new artist in the family!
Don’t forget to bring the camera to record your unique memories of this very special part of Norfolk.