Plan the perfect trip to Norfolk this autumn.
A guide to a weekend in Norfolk, including where to stay, eat and things to do.
Autumn brings with it a sense of magic. Crisp cool air, morning dews, golden light and changing colours. It compels us to slow down and enjoy natures show. Let go of the hectic summer and reset amongst the colourful country scenes that unfurl across the region.
For an epic escape, where at times you feel you could be the only person in the world, head to the medieval village of Worstead. The majority of the village is owned by the Worstead Estate. Between winding lanes and whimsical woodlands are three refurbished cottages: Estate Cottage, Holly House and grade II listed New Lane Cottage.
Worstead is the essence of what makes Norfolk great. Fields of swaying crops and dense forest. The phone signal is patchy and the air is quiet. It’s an opportunity to cut off from the outside world and just be. The village was once home to a thriving cloth trade and is the birthplace of the cloth used to weave jeans. Today, its stone walls and crooked cottages are to be admired.
Wander the footpaths on the edge of the Estate and you’ll catch glimpse of rural living at its finest. Owner Bruce Paterson, one of three brothers who acquired the farm from their father, provided a fascinating insight into agricultural life. He relived the story of how his grandfather transported his dairy cows on the train from Scotland to south Norfolk and rented the land. Eventually, he purchased the Estate in the early 1930s. The farm produces multiple crops such as maize, carrots and potatoes and is renowned for its wagyu cattle.
As the Worstead Estate creeps towards its centenary, the farm is undergoing significant changes to stand the test of time. There are impressive sustainable farming measures in place such as growing green fuel for a local AD plant, solar panels, a reduction in machinery, responsible grazing and a huge project which aims to harvest mature trees and replant 50 acres to bring the footpath back to its historic shape to provide connecting habitats between the park and woodlands.
Bruce said: “Farmers do everything; an engineer, welder, physicist, ecologist – there are so many things to turn your hand at. We need to diversify, because who knows what will happen over time.”
In addition to its environmental stewardship, there are plans to convert some of the estate’s older buildings into a restaurant, further accommodation, chefs garden and a brewery. The stunning wedding venue was recently completed. The Estate will no doubt become a hub for rural tourism in the not too distant future. In the meantime, guests can take advantage of its natural delights.
I stayed at the recently refurbished New Lane Cottage. A single lane leads to the 200-year-old, thatched cottage which offers 360-degree views of country landscape, including the odd cow! The terracotta tiles and fireplace give it a rustic edge, but the fully equipped kitchen, stylish bathroom and welcoming décor bring it back to the modern day. A welcome package full of locally sourced treats awaits guests.
The staircase is the real attraction of the cottage. The steep concealed stairs spiral towards the bedrooms on the first floor and invite you to imagine the many footsteps that have been up and down during its long history.
Silence is bliss, and here there’s plenty of it, except for the gentle call of a bird, soft mooing of a cow and nocturnal voices. Look closely and you’ll see an abundance of animals. Thanks to the farm’s stop on shooting, the wildlife is flourishing. It’s not uncommon to see deer, muntjac, buzzards, kites and even an otter at the Estate’s lake. If you’re an early riser take full advantage of the newly launched dawn chorus tour.
Nearby guests can enjoy horse riding, clay shooting, rambling, sailing and even wild swimming. If you’d prefer to stay close to the cosy cottage, there are miles of footpaths. Visitors are welcome to explore the parkland in the Estate with its canopy entrance of autumn foliage and large lake – a hotspot for bird watching.
Country pursuits are high on the agenda and it couldn’t be easier to book with the help of North Norfolk Concierge. The service can arrange activities, reservations and accommodation for those planning a trip to Norfolk.
Before my visit to the cottage, I discussed my requirements for the trip with North Norfolk Concierge. Owner, Ashton, asked some simple questions to understand my likes and dislikes and set about planning our Norfolk adventure.
My love of seafood was met with a delicious Randy’s seafood platter placed in our fridge at the cottage for our lunch time arrival. Ashton saved us space in the car by organising a dog bed, bowls and blanket in the cottage for the pooch in tow, and she scheduled a day of activities on the coast.
Norfolk combines the best of both worlds; wild, country living and seaside delights. Within 30 minutes from the rural haven of Worstead you’ll meet with the seashore.
North Norfolk Concierge organised a Temple Seal Trip at Morston Quay. I hopped aboard and cruised the calm Quay to view colonies of grey and common seal basking on the point. Captain Jim shared his knowledge of the area, its history and tales of heroic seal rescues. A must-do if you’re in the area. Next it was onto lunch at The Anchor Inn Morston. The cosy pub is ideal for escaping the sea breeze after a blustery autumn walk. The staff are attentive and friendly, and the food delicious with classic pub dishes and tasty fish options which showcase local produce.
Using North Norfolk Concierge relieved the stress that usually comes with preparing for a mini-break. Rather than making phone calls and sending emails to book dinners and trips as I battle against article deadlines, I could rest assured it was taken care of for me. Instead, I focused on finishing my work, closing the laptop and relaxing into my country escape.
If you have your autumn break planned but need assistance filling your days, restaurant recommendations, a bottle of Champagne on ice on arrival or perhaps a private chef to cook you dinner, North Norfolk Concierge can handle it!
For the ultimate country escape, a place where you can hear yourself think, East Anglia’s villages will deliver.