August 26, 2019 7 min read
Glorious, sandy beaches stretching as far as the eye can see. Evening drinks outside and delicious, locally sourced produce. We’ll admit we were luck with the stunning weather, but who knew a dog friendly holiday in Norfolk would turn out to be so fantastic?
Driving from the north of England, we took the first opportunity to jump out of the car and stretch our legs. Old Hunstanton beach provided the perfect spot for a couple of hours run around and a chance to explore the rock pools. You can also walk off the beach into Old Hunstanton village for an ice cream and a meander through this quaint North Norfolk village.
We continued our journey to Blakeney to pick up the keys to our cottage. Perfectly situated and tucked away off the quiet, coastal road, it was a lovely mix of rustic charm and homely comforts. There was a small private garden which had been top of our agenda when planning our dog friendly holiday.
Strolling up the high street searching for dinner we found the White Horse in Blakeney. Dog friendly, child friendly and all-round welcoming. We enjoyed our dinner and a cool drink on the terrace as the sun went down.
Peddars Way meets the Norfolk Coast Path and runs through large areas of the Norfolk Coast Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. With a history that dates to Roman times, it was built for troops to travel through East Anglia. Blakeney proved a perfect location to pick up a small section of the Peddars Way and we set off at a gentle pace to walk along the path along to Cley next the Sea. The day was very warm and be aware that there is no shade along the route, but we took it at a gentle pace, with plenty of water stops and took time to enjoy the beautiful scenery.
As you walk up to Cley next the Sea the windmill is central to the landscape. Literally off the path and you walk right into the totally delicious Artemis Coffee shop, which was a popular choice with walkers, cyclists, families and of course, totally dog friendly. A super little menu which changes throughout the day, it was the perfect place to rest and refresh. After a little explore around Cley next the Sea and a plan of action to be back to collect dinner, we made our way back along the Peddars Way to Blakeney.
After a long, hot day we stayed local and ventured to the very family and dog friendly beer garden at the Kings Arms in Blakeney. It was there we first discovered Black Shuck Gin…delicious after a hot day exploring!
Holt was next on the list - a small Georgian market town that is worth a quick visit and to pick up some supplies. When you’re looking for some fruit and veg it’s worth a visit to Benbows Fruiteres on the High Street. Local produce and friendly staff, it was lovely to support an independent greengrocer of the ‘old school’ variety. The sign looked like it was the original one from yesteryear which meant it retained its charm and simplicity serving fruit and veg to locals and holidaymakers alike. Remember to take your shopping bag and fill up with whatever seasonal produce and locally sourced eggs!
As discovered the previous day, Cley next the Sea also held two foodie places that took our fancy. We drove back along the main road and picked up deli items from Picinic Fayre and the Cley Smokehouse. It was time to head back to Blakeney for a well-earned afternoon snooze in the quiet of the garden then a supper assembled from the delicious items picked up in Holt and Cley.
We had heard about Wells next the Sea as it often crops up as one of Britain’s best beaches. We were not disappointed! TOP TIP: if you’re travelling by car, arrive at the car park super early as it gets very busy. Fortunately, the beach is so vast that it never seemed crowed.
If you’ve got a dog, then you need turn left through the pine woods and follow the boarded walkway over to the beach. You will be greeted with miles of soft, sandy beach and the longest line of beach huts to complete the setting. The tide was out leaving warm little pools of water perfect for paddling through and cooling off.
After a thoroughly happy morning playing and greeting some other doggos, we ventured back to the recommended Wells next the Sea Beach Café. With plenty of tables inside and out this was a great place to fuel up and enjoy a light lunch.
The town itself had plenty of dog friendly shops and had the feel of an English sea-side town from years gone by. There was a variety of shops, pubs and cafes but it was the Wells ice cream company who caught our eye before a trip on the Wells & Walsingham Light Railway. Yes, the light railway is also dog friendly, although, if you’ve got a lively pup then you need to keep a tight hold as the carriages are open. Some are covered, but with open sides, so you’re exposed to the elements, come rain or shine.
We enjoyed a walk round Walsingham which is known as England’s Nazareth. It did feel a quite a reflective place to walk and meander around until we caught the train back to Wells. Should you wish, you can simply stay on the train for the return journey. Sometimes, it’s the journey that’s just as fun as the destination.
The next day we decided to drive back to Cley next Sea to go out onto the beach. This was totally different from the previous beaches as it is a shingle beach. The views were stunning and although not easy to walk on, it was worth the visit and the walk. There were a sprinkling of other walkers and even one brave swimmer. You do need to keep your dog under control near to the marshes where there are ground nesting birds.
Holkham Hall was the next stop on our tour of North Norfolk. This is a huge estate with plenty going on for everyone. The grounds are dog friendly but need to be kept on a lead. Note that you cannot enter the house itself with dogs, plus it’s worth also pointing out that the Holkham Hall is only open on certain days so plan your visit if you do want to go inside.
We can vouch for the café and the kitchen garden were worth a visit. If you’re with younger folk, then it looked like there was plenty to do with an adventure playground and cycle hire around the estate.
Dinner that night was at the recommend Wiveton Bell Inn. Great menu including veggie options and a superb gin collection after a busy day. Dogs absolutely welcomed in the bar area and there was a lovely area outside for drinks should the weather allow.
A visit to Norfolk would not be complete without a trip to the very historic Norwich. Take a trip to Norwich Lanes to see narrow alleys and ‘ye olde’ buildings. The market is one of the largest and oldest open-air markets in the country and had a variety of stalls including greengrocers, street-food stalls and clothing. You can also meander along the tow path and watch the boats gliding past.
A quick turn around back in Blakeney then a 5 minute car ride to the village of Stiffkey and dinner at the dog-friendly Stiffkey Red Lion. Not much beats sitting outside on a warm August evening with a cool drink and a pub dinner. Dog biscuits complimentary at the very well stocked bar.
After a busy few days and a mixed weather forecast, we headed over to Stiffkey Stores for a morning coffee and croissant. They sell a mix of grocery’s and treats to stock up on. Also available are delightful gifts and a home-ware selection to tempt your pockets too.
As the weather behaved itself we decided to go back to Holkham to the beach and sand dunes. Rain had been forecast but we were in luck and had an almost empty beach and a sky that graced our visit with glorious fluffy clouds and sunshine. On our return we saw the car park was very busy so it’s another place to get to early, or when the weather forecast puts everyone else off!
There’s a reasonable walk from the car park to the beach but you can quickly get rid of your shoes and let the air get to your toes. Dog friendly with miles of beach, dunes and shallow sea to enjoy. After a few hours at Holkham beach we headed inland to another recommended town of Burnham Market.
The weather was deliciously warm, and the town was picture perfect cute. Historic buildings, independent shops and galleries and another spot to fill our tummies for a late lunch. We ambled into The Hoste, seeing it was dog friendly and there was a vacant table at the front. And what a find. Absolutely worth its place in The Guardian’s Top 10 Best Country Hotels in the UK 2018. Great menu, attentive staff and stunning inside and out.
We had a dinner booked at The Hunworth Bell. Plenty of walking had been done and it was our last night in Norfolk. Welcoming and friendly to humans and dogs alike, the menu was varied and interesting with the extra bonus of menus for those who need vegetarian, vegan, dairy free or gluten free (or all the above).
Our final morning was soon upon us. After packing up and dropping the key back into The Blakeney Cottage Company, it was a fond farewell to Slipway Cottage. North Norfolk was a great destination for a dog friendly holiday and we’ll certainly be back.
Yes, we know there are more than 15 reasons you should fall in love with dog friendly North Norfolk . . .
Let us know if you’ve been or plan to visit Norfolk. If you’ve got any recommendations for our next trip then we’d love hear about them. Thanks for having us Norfolk, you were the perfect place to recharge, explore and let the sea air fill our souls.