Norfolk – Royal Sandringham & The Broads
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Norfolk is especially renowned for its unspoilt coastline, 125 miles of spectacular Broads and some of the best nature reserves in Britain. On this tour we experience this and so much more, digging deeper into its history, the Victorian railway heritage and royal connections.
With its stunning grounds and captivating history, a highlight for many will be one of the Queens most beloved residences, the Sandringham Estate. On the other hand, city lovers will enjoy exploring Norwich with its well-preserved Medieval centre and cultural opportunities. Plus of course there will be a chance to experience some of the coastline Norfolk is famous for. Our base for this carefully crafted tour is the oldest hotel in the UK, dating back over 800 years, the perfect centre from which to explore this stunning part of East Anglia.
Day 1 – Arrival and Norwich Guided Tour
Arrive in Norwich where you will be warmly welcomed to your historic four-star hotel. This afternoon, we head to the heart of Norwich, just a stones throw from the hotel, for a guided tour. A real gem, Norwich is one of the most complete Medieval cities in Britain, it has a long and illustrious history, and it was known as Englands second city during the middle ages and Renaissance. Major landmarks include the imposing medieval castle and the cathedral, boasting the second largest cloisters in England. There is time to explore the pleasant city centre, or perhaps visit the Plantation Garden, one of the great treasures of Norwich with its Gothic fountain, Victorian-style greenhouse and rustic bridge. This evening, your mind may wander to dinner reservations, with an array of well-reviewed restaurants right on your doorstep. Perhaps sample some of the local crab, famously caught on the chalk reefs just off the Cromer coast.
Day 2 – Sandringham Estate
After breakfast at the hotel, we take a morning drive towards the North Norfolk countryside to the Sandringham Estate for a visit to the royal residence and its extensive gardens. Enjoy views of the peaceful landscape, dotted with quaint country houses and flint cottages so typical of this area. As the neatly manicured grounds of the Sandringham Estate come into view, the atmosphere becomes almost rarefied.
We have time here to visit a number of rooms which make up this private royal residence, including some which are still in use by the Royal Family, and admire the elegantly decorated surroundings. There is also a museum hosting a collection of vintage Royal cars and plenty of memorabilia. Best of all, the expansive gardens offer everything from woodland to more formal areas and picturesque spots by the ponds, where you can sit and enjoy the pleasant setting or perhaps head to the caf or to the well-stocked gift shop, which also sells a range of products from the estate itself including famous apple juices from the Sandringham Orchard.
Return to Norwich in the afternoon with time enjoy a relaxing drink before your evening meal at leisure, either in the hotel itself or at one of citys countless restaurants.
Day 3 – Sheringham & Poppy Line Train
This mornings drive, we wind through the countryside towards the Deep History Coast, a stretch of coastline between Weybourne and Cart Gap which is steeped in millions of years of history. Our destination is Sheringham, where we will have free time to enjoy this traditional coastal town with its pebble beaches and scenic coastal paths.
As city-dwelling Victorians sought fresh sea air, they hopped aboard the then newly-opened North Norfolk railway, turning Sheringham into a flourishing, well-known resort. Known as the Poppy Line, we experience the delightfully restored North Norfolk train for ourselves on a short journey back in time. We board a vintage wood-panelled coach to Holt through an area called Poppyland’ by Clement Scott and enjoy a delightful cream tea as we take in the views over the coastline and countryside. Full of stories of years gone by, we then return to Norwich in the late afternoon.
Day 4 – Blickling Hall & Norfolk Broads Cruise
Today we drive to the Blickling Estate to witness first-hand its breathtaking gardens and lavishly decorated mansion. The gardens at Blickling are spread over 55 acres of land and include both formal and informal areas, listed buildings, a kitchen garden, Victorian garden ornaments and mystifying woodland. The house itself is handsomely decorated, so be sure to take a wander along the spectacular Long Gallery, built by Sir Henry for social activity and exercise in bad weather.
This afternoon we experience this beautiful county on one of the highlights of the tour, on arguably the best way to take in the Norfolk Broads. Starting our journey in Wroxham, admire pretty villages and wildlife along the way on a relaxing boat cruise. Interestingly, the Broads were thought to be natural features until the 1960s, when Dr Joyce Lambert found that they were in fact flooded Medieval peat excavations.
Travelling by boat is the finest way to discover this wonderful area. As well as picturesque windmills dotted in the distance, its a true paradise for wildlife, as home to countless rare plants, birds and animals. Gaze in awe at the likes of colourful kingfishers, bouncing otters and tawny bitterns hiding amongst the white waterlilies and rare fen orchids. Be sure to keep an eye out for Britains largest butterfly too: the stunning and rare swallowtail can be identified by its pale, yellow wings laced by black and shades of dark blue and a touch of ruby red.
We return to Norwich in the late afternoon for our final night to enjoy the nearby buzz of the beautiful city centre with luxurious surroundings.
Day 5 – Return
After time to enjoy leisurely breakfast at your hotel, why not pay a visit to Norwich Market? One of the biggest outdoor markets in the UK, treat yourself to a bunch of fresh blooms, fresh produce or locally made crafts.