There’s magic in the air in Blakeney, North Norfolk. It’s in the first glimpse of the quay, with the sailing boats, families crabbing along the front and the marsh land out to the sea.
Having been to Blakeney a couple of years ago, we knew it was a place to go back to. It’s small enough to enjoy village coastal life, yet there’s still enough places to keep you fed and watered within walking distance of any of the little cottages available to rent. For coffee and delicious pastries there’s the Two Magpies Bakery, perfect for sitting on a bench and enjoying the morning sea air. When the tide’s in, you can watch everyone enjoying the water, from swimmers and paddle boarders through to people taking their boats out. Blakeney also has a small supermarket, a couple of deli’s, pubs and some independent shops, should you need retail therapy.
Having read about the dog friendly, vegetarian Art Cafe in Glandford, between Holt and Blakeney, we had a delicious veggie breakfast with the locally roasted Grey Seal Coffee, followed by a wander round the Birdscapes Gallery.
Fuelled up and ready for action we set off on a circular walk from Cley Spy, on the same site as the Art Cafe. It was a leisurely, dog friendly circular walk, taking us through fields, woodland and onto the Bayfield Estate (watch out for cattle and keep your dog on a lead where necessary). It’s worth taking a right turn down the long drive of Bayfield Hall to detour into the antique and interiors shop. There’s also a café if you’re in need of (more) refreshments. As you walk up the drive, have a look over the bridge at the dome roofed building housing the RAM pump. It was installed in 1884 to provide water for Bayfield Hall, the Dower House and kitchen gardens. It’s a short walk back on the main road to take you back to your starting point and car park.
Even though there are plenty of dog friendly pubs to choose from (we’d advise you book ahead) sometimes we like to chill out and have a relaxed evening meal where the boss can snooze away after a busy day.
Cley Smokehouse is a must for a whole variety of ready to eat, tasty delicacies. The gravlax, smoked duck and taramaslata are our particular favourites. They have a shop in Cley, and also at the same site as the Art Café in Glandford. Opposite the Cley shop is the absolutely recommended Picnic Fayre, to pick up more grocery items for a dinner you won’t regret!
On the subject of food, if you’re in the area of Little Walsingham, there’s the Walsingham Farm Shop that’s on a par with Harrods Food Hall! There’s an abundance of savoury and sweet treats to appeal to every palette including vegan options (the vegan carrot cake was scrumptious).
When not dining in on a bounty of locally sourced items, we ate at the Wiveton Bell, The Hunworth Bell, the George and Dragon in Cley and The Hoste Arms in Burnham Market. All of which were dog friendly, people friendly with menus options to cater for most needs.
Norfolk is famed for its fabulous beaches and, even with unpredictable British summer weather, we made our way to Burnham Overy Staithe Beach. Our lovely friend Archie recommended the beach to us, and it did not disappoint.
When you park, be aware of your surroundings and tide times so you don’t get back to your car and find it underwater! It’s a walk to get to the beach but, when you’ve got a dog, that’s part of the charm. It’s a heavenly dog friendly stretch of beach that’s ripe for zoomies and paddling.
Another quite(ish) and dog friendly beach was Thornham beach. Again, it’s a park and walk though marshes and along the Norfolk Coast Path. If you’re in need food and drink (and a peruse in a lovely little shop) there’s Thornham Deli before you start your trek. You can park up in the furthermost car park and pay to leave your car safely there whilst you’re at the beach. They have a huge menu and helpful staff, but it may be very busy at certain times of the day.
It’s another interesting walk to get to the beach, past the old boat house, over a bridge and across the grassy sand dunes. The beach is a vast stretch of soft sand, although keep your dog away from any areas that are roped off to protect the wildlife. Depending on the tide, there a plenty of areas of low water to splash around in that get gently warmed by the sun. It’s a superb dog friendly beach that’s well worth the trek.
There are also plenty of parks and houses to visit. Having been to Holkham Hall on our previous trip, we decided to take in the sights slightly in-land at Sheringham Park. There are areas where you need to keep your dog on a lead, but there’s plenty to explore and enjoy including different length walks depending on your energy levels. It’s a great space to relax and makes a change from cleaning sandy paws and toes.
Norfolk has become our happy place where we can relax, take the boss and know there are an abundance of dog friendly places to stay, walk, shop and eat. When you’re looking for a dog friendly holiday, check out everything that Norfolk has to offer.
We’ll be back again, so please let us know your favourite dog friendly places for us to visit next time we’re in Norfolk.