My Stay at Valdoon
Published: Friday 13th Mar 2020
Written by: Isobel Taylor
Want to know what it's like staying in one of the UK's most beautiful National Parks? Recently Tessa, part of the Homeowner services team stayed in one of fantastic holiday cottages in the pretty village of Hickling. Read on to find out what she got up to during her stay...
I'm ashamed to say, as one who is born and bred in Norfolk, that The Broads have been something of a foreign country to me, with memories of family boat trips taken in the cold and rain, looking out over grey waters and soggy skies. Therefore, when the opportunity arose to stay near Hickling Broad just for a night, I saw it as the chance to replace those memories with something more positive. And I wasn't disappointed.
On the tail end of one of the numerous storms we have been having recently which battered the county, my husband, myself and a couple of dogs piled in the car and drove from mid Norfolk to the pretty village of Hickling. Our final destination was Valdoon, a warm and welcoming bungalow, with a pack of goodies waiting for us on arrival and treats and towels especially for the dogs.
Although the bungalow has welcomed dogs for many years, it was absolutely spotless, with a fresh and modern decor, comfortable sofas and beds and consistent attention to detail throughout. As our four legged friends explored the garden (totally enclosed - no need to worry about escapees!), we lit the wood burner and made ourselves completely at home with tea, cake and weekend papers.
The next big decision in any break is where to eat. With The Greyhound pub only a five minute walk away, the choice was obvious and with a friendly welcome, good selection of beer and delicious food we congratulated ourselves on a choice well made.
After a very comfortable night in a lovely king size bed plus the luxury of a long (and hot!) bath, it seemed only fair to show the dogs more of their holiday surroundings. We took a lovely scenic route on a public footpath which wended its way through farmland and past the broad itself. With welcome sunshine after the storms, it was just perfect - made even better by the discovery of a group of immaculate, thatched boathouses in front of a row of picturesque cottages on the edge of the broad, with the silhouette of an old windmill in the background.
Having persuaded ourselves that we deserved a little light lunch, we packed up, said farewell to our lovely hosts and headed towards the Ingham Swan, which has risen from the ashes after a disastrous fire a few years ago. So successful has its renaissance been, it was completely fully booked when we arrived. A pity, but there's always birthdays, anniversaries, and any other excuse I can think of as a reason to return. Remember to book a table in advance!
Our journey home was interesting, and by that I mean we got completely lost, but in doing so discovered more of the surrounding countryside - wild, and completely unspoilt. We even came across a private level crossing, which was unmanned and locked. Just another quirk of the Broads!
Over a medicinal Bloody Mary back at home, we agreed that this short trip was just a taster of the good things to be had around our beautiful Broads, more research is needed and that cold childhood memories has definitely been replaced by bright February sunshine on sparkling Hickling Broad.