25 x picnic spots
What a wonderful way to appreciate our quiet and tranquil county then to enjoy a picnic in the diverse and varied landscape of Norfolk. From coast to countryside and broad to heath, below are just a few terrific picnic spots to savour.
1. Cley Beach
The beach at Cley-Next-The-Sea is about a mile away from the town and is accessed via beach road. It is a quiet beach backed by the nature reserve which has been designated an area outstanding natural beauty. Mostly made up of shingle Cley-Next-The-Sea beach is ideal for sunny summer evening picnics, sea fishing, early morning coastal walks and peace and quiet.
2. Brancaster Common
Enjoy the panoramic coastal views over Brancaster and sample the peace and quiet of Barrow Common. Whilst enjoying your secluded picnic you’ll be surrounded by the coconut scent of the Gorse bushes.
3. Ringstead Downs
One of the largest remaining areas of chalk grassland in the county, this attractive, steep-sided valley supports a diverse range of plant and animal species. Villagers have transformed this disused quarry tucked away in the Ringstead Downs into a woodland reserve, where families can enjoy picnics and strolls amid the towering beech trees.
4. Brancaster Beach
Here you will find miles and miles of unspoilt golden sand, as far as the eye can see. When the tide is out you can walk off your lunch and wander out to the remains of an old shipwreck. There is also a little wooden shop where you can pick up ice creams, hot and cold drinks, as well as buckets and spades.
5. Holkham Hall
The sweeping park that surrounds the hall is home to a large herd of Fallow Deer and a small herd of Red Deer that roam freely. The evergreen oaks (Quercus ilex) that are such a feature of the park, they are Mediterranean in origin and were brought to Holkham from Italy. Sit back and relax in the dappled sunlight and enjoy an Italian inspired lunch, you could be in the midst of the Tuscan Hills. There are designated walks which allow visitors to explore the 3,000-acres grounds and take a closer look at prominent landmarks, such as the monument to Coke of Norfolk and the obelisk.
6. Blickling Country Park
With a shimmering lake, shady woodland, colourful garden and rolling green parkland, you’re never far from an idyllic picnic spot. Take a stroll around the grounds to find your ideal picnic spot and after tucking in, let the kids explore the secret garden and ancient temple, and smell the citrus trees in the orangery. The whole family can also hire bikes and segways to ride around the park.
7. Castle Acre Priory
Enjoy the wonderful grounds as you pick the ideal picnic bench to stop for a bite with the gorgeous views of Castle Acre Priory for company. Let little ones run around and let off steam as there’s plenty of room in the grounds! The picturesque ruins began to attract the attention of antiquarians from the early 18th century, and by the second half of the century were attracting regular visits from local gentry and their guests.
8. Sheringham Park
Sheringham Park is one of the most beautiful parks on the coast. The views are breath-taking, and the colours in the park during the different seasons are spectacular. There are lots of paths and wooded tunnels for children to run around in, and lots of little glades to sit and have picnics. Between May and June the 80 or so species of rhododendrons and azaleas that are in full bloom, an incredible sight.
9. Sandringham Estate
Sandringham is the much-loved country retreat of Her Majesty the Queen, and has been the private home of four generations of British monarchs since 1862. The garden is superb, and an easy stroll around in a circle with the house being the central focus. The lake leading up to the West Lawns is surrounded by the most spectacular flora. Take a picnic and eat it the woodland around the nature walks and adventure playground. Or go for a wander through the woods, and then walk over to the Visitor Centre.
10. Snettisham Beach
The expansive sands of Snettisham are in fact Norfolk's only west facing beach. Snettisham beach is a natural haven and largely unspoiled. The extensive sand and mud flats are frequented by various wading birds such as avocets, knots and bar-tailed godwit which can be seen from the RSPB reserve. This is also a popular beach for fishermen, and an excellent beach for watching the amazing sunsets which are particularly spectacular on the west coast of Norfolk. So if you are feeling romantic, why not sit on the seawall and watch the sun go down with a spot of cheese and wine!
11. Heydon Village Green
Heydon is one of the prettiest villages in Norfolk and is set in a corner of Heydon Hall Park. It is one of less than a dozen privately owned villages in Great Britain and became Norfolk’s first conservation area in 1971. Heydon is also currently home to six County Wildlife Sites. Every summer the village hold a tug of war on the green which is not to be missed. Enjoy a picnic on the green surrounded by many historical buildings; why not take a pint out onto the green from The Earle Arms Pub too!
Happisburgh (pronounced Haysbrough) is most well-known for its striking red and white lighthouse. It is open at various times of the year and is the oldest working lighthouse in Britain. From a beautiful picnic spot on top of the cliffs you get an unspoilt view along the coast to Sea Palling.
13. Horsey wind pump
Horsey wind pump is an iconic building with a fascinating past. Standing sentinel over the mere, a climb to the top is rewarded with beautiful panoramic views of the surrounding countryside reaching out the coast. Once you have descended, pick a perfect picnic spot beside the lovely Horsey mere. You can then walk over fields and enjoy the remote beach of Horsey. The very traditional Norfolk Nelson Head pub is also well worth a visit.
14. Norwich Cathedral Close
In the lower end of The Close you’ll find quaint Georgian properties overlooking a large green, which have provided a backdrop for many period dramas. From here you’ll also be able to connect with winding lanes that lead down towards one of Norwich’s most picturesque spots, Pulls Ferry, and the wonderful Riverside Walk.
15. Felbrigg Estate
The Felbrigg Estate is the perfect place to enjoy a picnic in the summer. Explore the 3.3km way-marked walk through the Great Wood and parkland. Planted over many generations the primary purpose of this 380 acre wood was timber production, meaning that today you'll see a wide variety of trees of all ages, including ancient Beeches and Oak. There is a very pleasant and easy walk where you can take in the spectacle of The “Victory V” wood. Planted in 1946, it was designed to be seen as a “V” from the air. Here you can sit and soak up the beautiful surroundings and then head back down towards Felbrigg Hall taking the left hand path at the “V”.
16. Holt Country Park
This is a fabulous place to come for a day out with a picnic. Just to the side of the play area are a few picnic tables. There are also a couple of tables with overhead cover just to the side of the car park, and the other place there is a picnic table is by the pond in a shaded dell. All these facilities make for a good day out. Often there is a coffee stall in the car park too.
17. Whitlingham Country Park
At the eastern end of the country park you will find a children's play area. There is also a large grass area for picnics on warm sunny days. The spot offers great views of the river Yare. Moving down to the Great Broad, fantastic views continue over the water with the Norwich skyline as a backdrop. This woodland and water park just southeast outside Norwich at Trowse is a great place to walk, cycle or bird watch. Built on the site of a quarry whose gravel was used for a number of major local construction projects, Whitlingham offers a full range of water-based activities, including sailing, windsurfing, kayaking, rafting and canoeing.
18. St Benets
Combine an al fresco meal with a history lesson by heading to St Benets for your picnic. Once a bustling monastery, the site is now in ruins. Take a tour of the remains of the historic building before setting up camp by the water for your afternoon in the sun.
The beach at Winterton-On-Sea is truly one of the jewels of the Norfolk coast. The wide and gently sloping sandy beach is ideal for picnics, sandcastles or just relaxing. A colony of around 30 to 40 seals also lives just north of Winterton so take your binoculars for a sighting.
20. Castle Rising
One of the largest, best preserved and most lavishly decorated keeps in England, surrounded by 20 acres of mighty earthworks. In its long history, it's been a hunting lodge, a royal residence and even housed Queen Isabella following her dastardly part in the murder of her husband, Edward II. Kids can explore the ramparts and search the horizon for enemy hordes. Then when the perimeter is safe, they’ll love tumbling down the grassy moat slope or listening out for the local grasshoppers. It’s a great spot for a picnic and watching the sun go down.
21. Shouldham Warren
An undulating site on the edge of the fens with two healthy woodland walks. There are remnants of an historic spring on top of the hill are indicated by a Rhododendron avenue, there is also a World War II rifle butt close to the entrance. Stop for a picnic amid the tall pine trees.
22. Old Buckenham
Reputed to have the largest village green in Britain, 40 acres with duck ponds and playing fields and the venue for the annual fair, the village dates back to the Norman invasion. Castle remains lie about 1 mile to the north east of the village. The Old Buckenham airfield is close by and where they hold an annual air show.
Coltishall Common is one of the most picturesque spots in the whole of Broadland, also a great place to moor your boat. The staithe has a large area of grass that sweeps down to the River Bure and is an ideal place for a picnic.
24. Potter Heigham
Here you will find a lovely well equipped picnic spot overlooking the River Thurne. There are wooden tables with BBQ pads too, either bring your own picnic or pick up Fish & Chips from the village. Take the time to visit the famous medieval bridge over the river Thurne. The bridge dates back to 1385 and is a low-arched structure with a clearance of only 7 feet at its highest, a notorious test for novice boaters!
25. Ranworth Broad
A favourite with children for its floating Broads Wildlife Centre, it is a wonderful spot for observing the flora and fauna that is rich in this area. Watch the aquatic wildlife including fish, insects and frogs that populate the spots between the reeds, or observe the beautiful waterside scenes and skies teeming with birds.
By Rhiannon Meredith - Davies