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  • Writer's pictureGabriella Walker

Pigneys Wood - the most secluded, dreamy walk + our recommendations for the best local pubs after

There's something about autumn in Norfolk that makes me want to do two things; find amazing remote walks where we don't see a soul and then hunker down in a cosy pub after. Added bonus if the pub has an open fire and wingback arm chairs 🥰

As the leaves start to fall and the wind starts to chill, there really is nothing better than wrapping up in a big coat, putting on your walking boots and heading out into nature. For me, summer is all about Norfolk's stunning coast paths and beaches. As the weather turns however, it's time to look inland. For remote spots where you don't see another soul and you can "just be". Last winter we found loads of these beauties and we've started to explore them again (and photograph them) so we can start to share them with you too.

Pigneys Wood is one of my favourite finds of last year and has remained one of our go-to dog walks all through this year. It's always quiet (we've literally never seen another person while walking there) and in summer it's perfect for dog walking on hot days as the wooded sections of the reserve stay really cool. Our dog Luna loves it as she can finally have a bit of respite from the heat but also not have to be cooped up indoors. In Spring the woodland floor comes alive with bluebells and it's the perfect spot to see them without the crowds. In autumn though, this place absolutely comes into its own. The bluebells are replaced with the oranges and browns of fallen leaves, the sun shimmers through the ancient trees and it feels like your own little magic world.

📍 Pigneys Wood, Knapton, North Walsham, NR28 0SH

You don't need a pre-set walking trail for Pigneys Wood. It's owned and managed by Norfolk Wildlife Trust and they have the most brilliant way finders along all of the routes. Every time we go we try and new one and I'd say heading here with no agenda and just following the trails is 100% the way to go. Especially as there's 52 acres just waiting to be explored.

Norfolk Wildlife Trust returned the land to mixed woodland back in 1993 and planted over 20,000 trees of 40 different species and since then it's become a haven for wildlife. From birds to butterflies and dragonflies to otters, water voles and badgers. It really is just the most magical place.

Tucked away within a 15 minute drive radius of Pigneys Wood also happens to be some of the best pubs in Norfolk for hunkering down and getting cosy and warm after a long walk out in nature. Anyone who has followed us for a while knows we always pair a beautiful walk with delicious food. I literally can't have it any other way. In my mind, I've earned the calories by this point! So here's three recommendations for great pubs (all dog friendly) that can easily be tagged on after your walk, extending your day out and making the most of this part of Norfolk.

The closest of our recommendations (only a 7 minute drive away or an hours walk if you're still feeling adventurous), The Crown at Trunch is a proper village pub...with a twist. They only serve pie & mash. My goodness though, it's good pie and mash and after a long walk in Norfolk's autumn/winter temperatures, it's exactly what you need. They're taking part in Norfolk Restaurant Week this November too and offering 2 courses for £16 / 3 courses for £20, Monday - Friday 30th October to 10th November. Sounds like the perfect excuse for a midweek walk in Pigneys Wood followed by a trip to The Crown to me!

A 10 minute drive (or 1 hour 10 minute walk) away from Pigneys Wood. In summer, The Ship Inn has one of the most spectacular beer gardens you'll find in Norfolk (and most probably the UK). Set on the cliffs overlooking the beach, if you manage to grab a table at the front you're in for a serious treat. On warm days with a glass of wine, you could honestly feel like you were in Cape Town. Add this to the fact they have a fish & chip shop (The Catch) right out the front which gives a buzzer that goes off when your food is ready to collect so you don't have to wait in line, it's fast become one of our favourite summer spots. In winter though, when the crowds leave Mundesley, the inside of the pub comes into its own and its honestly the cosiest space. I love this pub in summer but in winter, it absolutely has my heart. They serve well priced pub classics and you won't be disappointed. Especially if the weather holds out and you can sneak a quick beach walk in afterwards. Now that sounds like a totally dreamy day to me!

(Apparently I really like pie & mash as it's the last thing I ate at The Ship Inn too according to my camera roll 😂)

The lesser known sister pub of The Gunton Arms (which needs no introduction), The Suffield Arms is only a 15 minute drive from Pigneys Wood. Less busy and less bouji, The Suffield Arms is probably my favourite pub in the whole of Norfolk. To me it's everything a pub should be. Nice big comfy chairs, an open fire, sport on in the background, great music and a brilliant range of drinks. What The Suffield Arms does superbly though is keep its "proper pub" roots while serving tapas style food that will literally blow you away. I could eat at The Suffield Arms every day of the week. From pizzas to meat platters and everything in between, this is high end restaurant food but in the middle of nowhere with a cosy log fire and locals sitting chatting at the end of the bar. To me, it's heaven.

We'll be doing lots more walking routes with foodie recommendations so if there's a certain part of Norfolk you're keen for us to explore and write about, please do get in touch - We'd love to hear from you.


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