Places to Visit and Days out in Norfolk

Baconsthorpe Castle

Extensive remains of a mid-15th century medieval fortified manor, built by wealthy lawyer John Haydon. The outer gatehouse was added in the 1560s by Sir John's grandson. The property was inhabited until the 1920s, when parts of it fell down. Long since abandoned and now managed by English Heritage, the picturesque flint and stone ruins are beautifully reflected in the tranquil moat that surrounds part of the castle.

Run by English Heritage
Opening times: any reasonable time Free Entry
Location: Baconsthorpe , NR25 6LN - Tel: 01799 322399 Website
Facilities: Parking

Bircham Windmill

Traditional Norfolk windmill dating back to the 1700s. One of the finest Norfolk windmills still in working order and tours of the inside of the mill and its machinery are available. The mill's tea room serves refreshments, home-made cakes and cream teas.

Opening times: Easter~Sep, 10am to 5pm Free Entry
Location: Great Bircham, PE31 6SJ - Tel: 01485 578393 Website
Facilities: Parking, café, bakery shop, wheelchair access

Blakeney Point

Nature reserve situated on a 3 mile (5 km) long spit of shingle and sand, with sand dunes, mud flats and salt marshes, located along the north Norfolk coast. Native plants include thrift, sea lavender, sea asters and samphire. Seals can often be seen basking on the sandbanks. Other wildlife include bluethroats, turns, pied flycatchers, warblers, wheatears and whinchats. Can be accessed by ferry from Morston Quay or via a 4 mile (6.5 km) walk from Cley-next-the-Sea.

Run by National Trust
Opening times: dawn to dusk Charge for Ferry
Location: Morston Quay, Quay Road, Morston, Norfolk, NR25 7BH - Tel: 01263 740241 Website
Facilities: Parking (charged)

Blickling Hall

This grand, red-brick, Jacobean moated house, was built between 1616 and 1628. The front of the property is an impressive sweeping facade with cupolas, turrets and gables, topped with corkscrew chimneys. The immaculate formal gardens contain a parterre with shaped topiary yew hedges, an orangery and a quaint little secret garden. The 55 acres of surrounding parkland and grounds contain a dramatic crescent shaped lake visible from the house and many beautiful walks.

The house contains several period-style rooms and the long gallery has an intricate Jacobean plasterwork ceiling. Blickling Hall was the childhood home of Anne Boleyn. It is told that on the anniversary of her execution, she rides up to the hall in a coach drawn by headless horses and coachman, while she herself sits with her head on her lap!

Run by National Trust*
Opening times: Mar~Oct, Wed to Sun & BHs, 1pm to 4.30pm (3.30pm Oct) Admission Charge*
Location: Blickling, NR11 6NF - Tel: 01263 738030 Website
Facilities: Parking, café, restaurant, shop, garden centre, wheelchair access

Bressingham Steam Museum & Gardens

Bressingham's 500 acres of gardens and woodlands provide an interesting setting for its miniature steam locomotive collection, including a steam Carousel. The narrow gauge rail tracks runs across the wooded valley of the River Waveney. The 20 acres of landscaped gardens contain thousands of varieties of alpines, trees, shrubs and perennials, providing all year round interest. The Dads Army Appreciation Society collection and the Norfolk fire museum are also located here.

Opening times: Apr~Sep, daily 10.30am to 5.30pm (4.30pm Mar & Oct) Admission Charge
Location: Bressingham, IP22 2AB - Tel: 01379 686900 Website
Facilities: Parking, café, restaurant, shop, garden centre, wheelchair access

Norfolk Broads

The Broads, located to the north-east of Norwich, comprise over 30 man made lakes, linked by navigable channels. Together with several rivers and canals, the Broads provide some 200 miles of water dedicated to watersports, sailing, cruising and fishing. The essential nature of the Broads can only really be appreciated by boat. There are a wide range of boat hire operators located at the main centres of Wroxham, Horning and Potter Heigham.

Location: northeast Norfolk Website

Burgh Castle

Originally the site of a Roman Fort (circa AD 300), which was part of a chain of fortifications built along the coastline to defend against Saxon invaders. After the Romans left an Irish saint, St Fursey, built a monastery within the walls. Later the Normans built a castle on the fort's foundations. Large sections of the massive flint and brick walls still stand today. The site is opened to the public and managed by English Heritage.

Run by English Heritage
Opening times: any reasonable time Free Entry
Location: NR31 9PZ - Tel: 0870 333 1181 Website
Facilities: Parking

Caister Roman Site

The name Caister is Roman in origin and this coastal area was once an important Roman naval base. The partial excavated flint and brick remains of a defensive shore fort are still visible. The site is opened to the public and managed by English Heritage.

Run by English Heritage
Opening times: any reasonable time Free Entry
Location: Caister-on-Sea, NR30 5JS - Tel: 0870 333 1181 Website
Facilities: Parking, café, shop, wheelchair access

Castle Acre Priory & Castle

Castle Acre is a small village located along the route of the ancient Peddar's Way. The village takes its name from the moated ruins of a huge Norman castle, which stands to the south of the village. The castle site is entered though a restored 13th century gatehouse, complete with two round towers. Nearby are the preserved remains of a unique Cluniac priory, with a restored walled herb garden. The priory boasts an impressive 12th century arcaded west front.

The 13th/15th century church of St James contains some very interesting painted panels.

Run by English Heritage*
Opening times: Castle: open any reasonable time / Priory: Apr~Sep, daily 10am to 6pm; Oct~Mar, Thu-Mon 10am to 4pm (closed Xmas & NY) Castle: Free Entry / Priory: Admission Charge*
Location: Stocks Green, Castle Acre, PE32 2XD - Tel: 01760 755394 Website
Facilities: Parking, shop, wheelchair access (priory only)

Castle Rising Castle

A fine 12th century Norman castle built on massive defensive earthworks; parts of which date back to the Roman occupation. The great keep contains an interesting series of rooms and galleries reached via a dramatic staircase. The castle was originally built to protect an important port, which has long since silted-up. The castle was also once the palace of Isabella (the 'She Wolf of France), dowager Queen of England.

Run by English Heritage*
Opening times: all year, Apr~Nov, daily 10am to 6pm; Nov~Mar, Wed-Sun 10am to 4pm (closed Xmas) Admission Charge*
Location: Castle Rising Castle , PE31 6AH - Tel: 01553 631330 Website
Facilities: Parking, shop, wheelchair access

Felbrigg Hall

This fine, 17th century, Jacobean hall, set in a huge park, was the home of the Windham family for 300 years. The house contains a magnificent collection of 18th century furniture, pictures and an outstanding library. The nearby 550-acre wood and park contains several way-marked footpaths and a working dovecot.

Run by National Trust*
Opening times: Mar~Oct, Sat-Wed, House: 1pm to 5pm, Garden: 11am to 5pm. Park walks available daily, dawn to dusk Admission Charge*
Location: Felbrigg, NR11 8PR - Tel: 01263 837444 Website
Facilities: Parking, café, restaurant, shop, wheelchair access

Grimes Graves

Grimes Graves is 35 acre field full of a unusual depressions near Thetford forest. The holes are not graves at all but are actually the partly filled-in shafts of ancient mines dug by Neolithic man around 5000 years ago. Excavated in 1870, they are claimed to be the world's oldest known mines and were dug to extract flint for the use in making Neolithic tools. One of the shafts is open to the public with several radiating galleries (Note: under 5s not allowed into the mine).

Run by English Heritage*
Opening times: Apr~Sep, daily 10am to 6pm; Oct, Thu-Mon 10am to 5pm Admission Charge*
Location: Thetford, IP26 5DE - Tel: 01842 810656 Website
Facilities: Parking, shop, wheelchair access

Holkham Hall

A superb Palladian mansion, built between 1734 and 1759, for Thomas Coke (Earl of Leicester), to a design by William Kent. The alabaster entrance hall with its ornate columns and the hall's sumptuous state rooms are all worth visiting. The house contains fine period furnishings, furniture, Italianate statues and paintings by Gainsborough, Rubens and Van Dyck.

The stable block houses the Bygones Museum and 'History of Farming' exhibition, containing thousands of historic items of domestic and agricultural interest.

Opening times: Apr~Oct, Sun, Mon & Thur 12 to 4pm Admission Charge
Location: Holkham, NR23 lAB - Tel: 01328 710227 Website
Facilities: Parking (charged), café, shop, wheelchair access

Oxburgh Hall

The construction of this romantic red-brick, moated, manor house began in 1482, by the Bedingfeld family, who still live there today. The only parts of the 15th century brick building to survive are the Tudor gatehouse and the north front. The rest of the building dates from the early 19th century. Visitors can enjoy the formal French gardens and experience magnificent views from the tower. The house contains rare tapestry panels, embroidered by Mary, Queen of Scots and Bess of Hardwick. An interesting attraction is the hall's 16th century priest's hole, which is accessible to the public.

Run by the National Trust*
Opening times: times vary, see website for details Admission Charge*
Location: Oxborough, PE33 9PS - Tel: 01366 328258 Website
Facilities: Parking, café, restaurant, shop, wheelchair access

Sandringham House & Grounds

This elegant 19th century Jacobean style house, set amid a grand 8,000-hectare estate, is one of the Queen's private country homes. Sandringham has been a royal residence since 1861, when it was purchased by Queen Victoria as a shooting lodge. It was here that George V made his first Christmas broadcast to the nation in 1932. The main rooms used by the Royal Family (when in residence) are open to the public and contain royal portraits, sculptures, ornaments and period furniture, plus collections of fine porcelain, silver and rare Faberge jewellery.

The estate gardens were opened to the public by Edward VII and comprise formal gardens, woodland glades, landscaped lakes, and a large country park with footpaths and nature trails. Wolferton station, once used by visiting royalty is now a museum. The grounds also contain a museum of Royal Cars.

Opening times: Easter~Jul & Aug~Oct. House: 11am to 4.45pm, Museum 11am to 5pm, Grounds 10.30am to 5pm Admission Charge
Location: Sandringham, PE35 6EN - Tel: 01553 612908 Website
Facilities: Parking, café, restaurant, garden centre, shop, wheelchair access

Thetford Forest Visitor Centre

One of Britain's largest pine forests, also containing lime avenues and nature trails where woodlarks and nightingales can be heard. The main area for visitors is the Forestry Commission's High Lodge Visitor Centre, which provides access to 9 miles (14.5 km) of walking trails and over 30 miles (48 km) of cycle trails, plus a range of visitor facilities including a Go-Ape adventure area.

Opening times: weekdays: 9am to 5pm, weekends: 9am to 6pm Entrance Fee
Location: Near Brandon, IP27 0AF - Tel: 01842 815434 Website
Facilities: Parking, café, toilets, shop, picnic areas, cycle hire and adventure play area.

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