It was my birthday a couple of weeks ago and a girlfriend came up from Cambridge to celebrate with me. We set off from Holt on a glorious spring morning, blue skies and sunshine to Letheringsett and then swung a right towards Wiveton. Our first stop was only minutes down the road at Bayfield Hall, a treasure trove of antiques, lighting, glass ware – old and new, candles, painted furniture and a small interior design studio. A little further along the road we found the Art Café at Glandford which is housed in a large barn with a teapot weight on the front door! Here we found local artisan craftworks, art, delicious cakes and great coffee. Next door to the Café there is an art gallery and across the yard there is Cley Spy, a great find for binoculars and telescopes, both old and new.
Glandford is also home to The Shell Museum, which sadly was not open the day we were there. It is the oldest purpose built museum in Norfolk and houses the finest seashell collection in the UK as well as other interesting finds.
From Glandford we meandered our way across the quiet back roads to Great Walsingham a very pretty spot. The village is next to Little Walsingham, which is famed for its religious shrines and also contains the ruins of two medieval monastic houses.
Time for lunch, so we headed to the Walsingham Barns Café whose reputation for scrumptious food is well known. The Café sources its ingredients from the local farming community and produces freshly cooked dishes each day.
Wells-next-the-Sea was our next port of call and we parked in the Buttlands, a very pretty green in the centre of the town surrounded by Georgian and Victorian houses. Wandering down Staithe Street, we found a really eclectic mix of shopping; second hand book shops, flower shops, art shops and home/interiors shops that sat alongside the local butcher, baker and chandlery. Recently recovered from the storm surge at the end of last year, the town is bouncing back from the floods that swamped the quay. The views of the quay and marshes beyond are delightful and if you have the time it would be worth popping in to one of the local fish and chip shops and sitting on the sea wall to take in the view.
Taking the coast road we next found ourselves at Stiffkey and visited the Stiffkey Lamp Shop, home to a myraid of antique and reproduction period lighting and every accessory under the sun. Across the road is the charming Stiffkey Village Store, which is not quite what it seems and well worth a visit. On the coast road again to the Wiveton Hall Café for tea. The Café is situated on the fruit farm, where you can PYO in the summer months and has spectacular views over the marshes to the sea.
Having revived ourselves our final port of call was Cley-next-the-Sea. As we approach, there is a stunning view of the windmill in the late afternoon sun. We just have time to pop in to Cley Smokehouse to pick up some locally dressed crab for supper and across the road to Picnic Fayre, a wonderful delicatessen housed in an historic forge for local Norfolk cheeses and some organic wine.
It was lovely to rediscover the riches the county has to offer and it was just the perfect birthday!