Sandringham was the main attraction for my desire to visit Norfolk. Living in Somerset the journey across country to the east coast is not insignificant, so when I saw a National Trust escorted coach tour departing from local pick up points it seemed ideal.
The tour also included visits to their properties of Felbrigg and Blickling; and the seaside towns of Cromer and Sheringham, as well as a cruise on the Norfolk Broads.
We stayed at a wonderful traditional (and quirky) hotel in West Runton called Links Country Park. The service was excellent and the food exceptional, using fresh local produce and I would not hesitate to recommend this hotel whether you are on a tour, or travelling independently.
My preconceived views of Norfolk as a flat, rather uninteresting county were quickly dispelled over the five days as we travelled through beautiful, lush landscape, pretty villages, and attractive coastline towns.
Sandringham is a wonderful estate, with a stunning external façade and beautiful grounds. The rooms we visited were interesting, but few were available to view and I was a little disappointed about this, however, I suppose it is still used frequently by the Queen and her family so most of it is kept private. There is a fascinating museum and exhibition area which gives a wonderful insight to royal family life at Sandringham (don’t miss this if you go as it almost makes up for the short tour of the house).
Allow yourself enough time in the grounds as they offer a delightful range of formal gardens, woodland, lakes and the “famous” St Mary Magdalene parish church. I have visited many National Trust properties and I am always very impressed with the conservation work they do, the preservation of our history and heritage, and the imaginative presentation of houses and grounds.
Felbrigg and Blickling are no exception, in fact I particularly loved Felbrigg, which is certainly now on my list of favourite National Trust properties. The Library is incredible, and the Kitchen has the greatest collection of copper utensils that I have ever seen. The walled garden and traditional dovecote are stunning, and a “must see” as part of your visit.
The day we went “cruising” on the Broads was bitterly cold, but I managed to find a warm cosy spot down below, at the front of the Southern Comfort Paddle Boat, and thoroughly enjoyed the tranquil trip, well narrated by the “skipper” who pointed out places of interest, wildlife and birds.
Cromer and Sheringham, on the coast, are typical traditional seaside towns offering the prerequisite souvenir shops, tea rooms, tasty fish and chips, but are quiet and pleasant, no rowdy crowds! I very much enjoyed my time in Norfolk, the region offers a diverse range of activities, sights and attractions. The National Trust tour was well organised and I would certainly go with them again.
However, I would also recommend independent travel to Norfolk, we only “scratched the surface” on the trip, and there many more historic places of interest, coastal towns and the county town of Norwich to visit, as well as the fascinating network of Broads to explore.