My favourite places in North Norfolk
My favourite places to visit in Norfolk...
Ok, I admit that when I started thinking about a guide to North Norfolk, I started jotting down my favourite places to go. I soon realised that most of them involved food. Resaurants and cafés to eat at, farm shops and places to buy provisions for the cooking of. So this is a guide to eating your way around Norfolk. I will, at a later date do a guide to my favourite interior places too.
My love of Norfolk goes back a long way. My children grew up with holidays at our family holiday home Seaton Lodge
which is a great base to explore the area.
Norfolk has a rich tradition of producing amazing, locally sourced food; from the famous Cromer crab, to amazing cheeses, homegrown vegetables as well as a wealth of other fresh sea food caught by the Norfolk fishermen.
Taking the haunch of Norfolk; I'm going to start at the eastern end Near Cromer and work my way west along the coast...
The Gunton Arms.
This is a traditional country pub with a twist. There are cosy fires and all the trappings of a classic (albeit very stylish) village inn, but look more closely and you will see original artworks from Tracey Emin, Damian Hurst and Gilbert & George. There is a bar, restaurant and 12 rooms, all set on the edge of an ancient 1000 acre deer park.
The Gunton Arms
The food is exceptionally good. Head Chef is Stuart Tattersall (ex Mark Hix). The steaks are cooked on the large open fire in The Elk Room and served with duck fat roast potatoes.
In August there is a popular music and food festival. You need to book, especially at busy times.
This lovely, light airy cafe is in a converted 1800s brick kiln. Owned by husband and wife team Richard and Alison; Richard has been a fisherman on this stretch of coast for 35 years and it is his haul of crab, lobster, mussels and fish that make up the menu.
Expect killer crab sandwiches, lobster, traditional fish and chips and fresh crab salads as well as panoramic sea views. You can walk from the cafe, directly along a cliff path and down on to West Runton beach, or back to Seaton Lodge.
Bakers and Larners
Heading inland from the coast slightly, this wonderful old department store has been there since the 1900s, with departments for clothing, kitchenware, stationery etc. It is charmingly "Are you being served" but it is the food hall that I love. It is a foodie haven of locally sourced produce and a great wine and spirits section. This place comes into its own at Christmas, when the pretty Georgian town of Holt is decorated with a million twinkly lights and Bakers and Larners is loaded with gorgeous Christmassy treats.
Bakers & Larners
Back To The Garden
A stone's throw from Holt is this lovely farm shop and Café. It is a food lover's delight of local produce as well as a great café with a very pretty garden to eat in in the summer.
Back to the Garden
Heading back to the coast road and continuing towards Wells, you come to Stiffkey Stores. This is the one place that could have a place in both a foodie and an interior shop guide. In the main shop, there is a cafe selling great coffee and stonking cakes, as well as a post office and small general store. Outside there is always a barrow of fresh flowers and plants and a nicely curated selection of interior bits in barn-like annex. You can take-away for a quick pit-stop or eat in, in a choice of sweet beach huts outside.
Wells Beach Café
Continuing along the coast road will bring you to Wells. The little town is nice but can get rather busy in the summer. The beach however, is one of my favourites on this coast and is vast enough, that even on a hot August day, you can find enough space to make camp for the day. There is a large carpark and a really great café. I think I love it best in the winter, the whole place is very dog-friendly - bowls of water etc. - and the café serves incredible hot pasties and sausage rolls. Dog walk on the beach followed by a cup of tea and a hot sausage roll. If there's a better way to spend a Sunday in Norfolk, I'd like to know about it.
Wells Beach Café.
Creake Abbey Farmers' Market
Heading back in-land a few miles again to North Creake, The Creake Abbey Café and Food hall holds a farmers market on the first Saturday of each month. Creake Abbey is worth a visit any time, there is a tea room, café and lovely food hall with some great quality produce, as well as a selection of other little shops. The farmers' markets are well worth the trip though, (particularly in the run-up to Christmas) when around 50 stall holders come with a vast array of local produce from artisan breads and cheeses, to pickles, jams, craft ales and gins.
Creak Abbey Farmers' Market.
Eric's Fish & Chips
Back along the coast road to Thornham and Drove Orchards. Lots going on here. There are some wonderful shops; Joyful Living for laid back stylish interiors...but more of that in another blog post. There is a farm shop and pick your own fruit in season as well as Gurneys fish shop selling the best freshly caught seafood.
Eric's, for me, is the best chippie on the Norfolk coast. Fairly unprepossessing from the outside, nicely funky interior inside and incredible fish and chips done properly. These are also nice little twists to the conventional chip shop menu such as Japanese style fish burgers, fried arancini balls or battered squid.
Eric's Fish and Chips.
So there we have it. A gourmet guide to Norfolk. Although really, there are plenty more places that are great, I've just picked a few of my favourites. Then there are the interior shops...that's for another time.