Must admit, until recently, I didn’t know too much about Norfolk. Only things I knew were that the main town is, Norwich, the watery bits are, The Broads and once upon a time, Stephen Fry lived there.
I think. Apart from that, my Norfolk knowledge was blank as a biscuit. So when the chance came to go there, seemed like a rather good idea, find out what goes on at the far eastern fringes of England.
First thing we needed, was somewhere to stay. A base camp. With all the comforts of home. Along with a few more besides. Nothing wrong with spoiling yourself, after all. Did some online homework and discovered Winterton Cottages.
Winterton Cottages is a comprehensive collection of rather fine looking cottages, sleeping various numbers of guests, in various combos, all of them in tiptop luxury. All of them were dog friendly too.
As the name suggests, most of the properties are sprinkled round the centre of Winterton on Sea. From the pictures, looked like a rather fine seaside village, in a sweet spot just up the coast from Great Yarmouth.
After a pleasant few hours motoring cross country to get there, the landscape flattened out, churches started to be flint built beauties and cute cottages began to line the roadside. With a smattering of winsome windmills dotted here and there.
Winterton On Sea
Turns out, Winterton on sea is a really pretty little place. Thatched cottages, village green, pub, people who smile on sight.
Walking round, feels like it went for a lie down in the fifties and decided to stay that way forever. It’s fabulous, friendly and wherever we wandered, always found a few fellow travellers happy to pass the time of day.
All of which makes it absolutely ideal as a holiday destination. With a bit of something for everyone.
An imposing flint facaded church stands guard next to the village school. Nearby Victorian houses give way to tiny, thatched cottages huddled round the village green.
Seems like every other corner is overflowing with flowery displays; in boats, barrels, or on bicycles. If I was the sort who gave out gold stars, I would be flinging them out like confetti.
We were staying at, Sunny View. A sweet looking bungalow, sitting on a corner plot, overlooking the village green, surrounded by a picturesque, English country cottage style garden. The sort you expect to see on biscuit tins. Mmm. Biscuits.
First impressions are always important, in this case, they were as tasty as those biscuit tin biscuits. Walking through the garden gate, we were engulfed by the sweet scent of jasmine, honeysuckle and roses round the door. After one breath, I was a fan. And that was before we even got inside.
Turns out, there were 3 bedrooms leading off the hallway, sleeping six in comfort, two doubles and a twin. All very lovely indeed.
To keep us clean, there was an ensuite bathroom, plus family bathroom with jacuzzi bath. Soon discovered that sinking into a steaming hot bath with jacuzzi jets at full throttle, buried by bubbles, is an excellent way to round off the day. Any day. A huge hit with all concerned. More gold stars all round.
In truth, the whole place was an exercise in loveliness. The kitchen was fab, the dining room was filled with morning sunshine and the book shelves were lined with enough books and board games to keep you busy for weeks.
The living room, which caught the afternoon sunshine, made the perfect spot for snoozing after days out, watching telly or catching up on some reading. All in all, Sunny View was the perfect home from home for us and our doggy companion.
When staying in holiday accommodation, often like to work out how long I could live there before getting bored. We were only staying for a few nights, but reckon we could quite happily have stayed for a few months, if possible.
Which is, to my way of thinking, one of the highest compliments you can pay a place. So. More gold stars. At this rate, I’m going to need a bigger bag of the blighters.
Couple of minutes stroll takes you to the wide, sandy wilderness that is, Winterton Dunes.
A nature reserve filled with marram grass mounds, crisscrossed by winding footpaths, carpeted in wildflowers and soundtracked by a skyful of busy birds. Very nice.
On the other side of the dunes, the beach stretches out for mile upon mile of soft, golden sands just waiting to caress your toes, flirt with your footsteps and fill up your senses with happy memories. It’s the perfect place for sunset strolls, sea swims and seal watching. Or, just enjoying life.
The butcher, baker and candlestick maker may well feature in nursery rhymes, but in the real world, there are more important things to look for.
When staying somewhere for a few days, I look out for more practical fare. Pubs that do grub, local corner shop for essentials, cafe for coffees with cake. And if possible, a fish’n’chip shop to bring on some seaside bliss.
Simple stuff, but it can really make a staycation special if they are all within easy stroll of your front door. This village isn’t just pretty, it’s also well supplied with everything you need for holiday happiness.
Pub – Fishermans Return
The Fishermans Return, the village pub, was about 60 seconds walk from our front door. First time we went, a vintage car was parked outside, which felt about right.
The pub does a fine line in beers and an even finer line in pub grub meals guaranteed to please the hungriest of bellies.
Feeling peckish one evening, I went for the Boozy Beef pie (their words, not mine), it fitted the bill (and the belly) perfectly.
Cafe – Poppy’s Tea Rooms
Always nice to find a village post office going strong, this one doubles up as a grocery store too. With a cafe, Poppy’s Tea Room, attached. The whole setup oozed warm and welcoming vibes.
The staff were full of smiles, as were the other customers, even the garden was friendly. Dog friendly.
When we visited for coffee, cake and essential supplies (bread, pink grapefruit marmalade, bananas) we spent more time chatting to strangers than shopping. If this is living the rural life on coastal Norfolk, count me in.
Out and About
To be honest, we could quite happily have stayed around the village throughout our stay, strolling around it, making small talk with strangers.
One morning, I spent a happy half hour chatting with a master thatcher who was working on the cottage opposite. Turns out, the reed he was using is so locally sourced, when he got up on the roof to work with it, he could see where it was grown.
However, in the interests of research, we did spend a day driving round the local area. Ten minutes north took us to the Dunes Cafe, Waxham. Where I was introduced to the delights of Norfolk shortbread with fresh cream and jam. Very nice it was too. Bit like a cream tea, except with rock cake instead of scone.
Next we headed south to Caister, where we stared out to sea at the offshore wind farm whilst picnicking on crab rolls.
Strolling along the soft sand, we found a finger board telling us that Great Yarmouth was one mile south, whilst if we went north for two, we would find ourselves in California. Hmm.
If you fancy finding out more about Norfolk, it’s wild bits, it’s windmills and the wondrous charms of Winterton. Well, I can thoroughly recommend doing so. It’s a mighty fine place to start any adventure. Just be sure to take along a big bag. You’re going to need it for all the gold stars you’ll be wanting to hand out!
Winterton Cottages Info
Winterton Cottages have over 40 stunning holiday homes in Winterton-on-Sea and the surrounding villages of East Somerton and Martham.
Ranging from a cosy traditional fisherman’s cottage for two to large houses with spectacular sea views and quirky properties like a former village shop and double thatched round house.