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  • Writer's pictureGabriella Walker

Why as a London girl, North Norfolk stole my heart

Living in London for 12 years, some days, life felt like a constant treadmill and snippets of stolen time away in the countryside was always what got me through. Don’t get my wrong, I LOVED London (I still do) but sometimes you really do just need time away. Until I met my now husband (Matt), I’d always head to The Cotswolds, Devon or Cornwall on my weekend breaks. I hadn’t even really heard of the North Norfolk Coast before. But then in November 2018, everything changed. Life for me personally got really tough and Matt booked a surprise week away for us and our new puppy in a cottage in Blakeney. He told me that week away would mend my soul. It did. In fact, it didn’t just mend my soul, it left an imprint on it that was so strong that 3 years later, we sold up, packed our bags and made North Norfolk our forever home.

Just this week, Cromer, in North Norfolk has been featured in a piece in The Telegraph, jestfully stating that “if Cromer was Margate, this place would be heaving with hipsters”. In a way they’re right; Cromer is up and coming (yet crazily still undiscovered). In other ways, they couldn’t be more wrong. There’s so much more to Cromer (and the whole of Norfolk) than somewhere people need to “kiss quickly, while it’s still poignant, fun and affordable” and it certainly isn't "crumbling seaside towns" as the article depicted.

It’s hard to sum up how I feel about North Norfolk in one blog post but I feel given that article this week (and the exciting news of another Norfolk restaurant being awarded a Michelin Star), I need to give it a try. So from a now Norfolk girl who on several occasions stated she was “London girl” and she’d “never live anywhere else”, here’s why I fell in love with Norfolk over every other country retreat that’s ever been.

For me, the ease of getting to The North Norfolk Coast was a game changer. Instead of sitting for hours in horrible traffic, feeling like your time away was disappearing in front of your eyes, you can set off early and be on a beach before 9am on a Saturday morning. Located just a couple of hours away from London, it’s such an easy and stress-free destination for a quick getaway. You can either hop on a train to King's Lynn or Norwich and then take a short bus or taxi ride to the coast, or you can drive and take in the stunning scenery along the way. It just gets prettier and prettier the closer you get; I used to love that drive!

And once you arrive, I can’t explain to you the stunning natural beauty of the North Norfolk Coast. The first time I stood on the salt marshes in Blakeney, they literally took my breath away. Then there’s the vast stretches of sandy beaches (voted some of the best in the world alongside further flung locations such as Costa Rica and The Maldives) and the picturesque fishing villages. All so magical and all so peaceful. Every stress, every worry, it just magically melts away.

The big thing for me is the tranquility. While The Cotswolds, Devon, and Cornwall are all popular tourist destinations (and beautiful), they can also be overcrowded. On the North Norfolk Coast though, you can walk for hours and not see another soul. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that people don’t come here, because they do. But instead of everything being all crammed into “the place to be” type areas, you’ve got a whole coastline to play with (and a big one at that). Every coastal village and town is different and offers different things. We’ve lived here permanently for 18 months now and we’re STILL exploring and finding new places to love.

When it comes to the foodie scene, Devon & Cornwall especially have found their place, but Norfolk is now steadily stealing that crown. Not only is the average standard of food significantly higher in pubs and restaurants than in most "weekend break" locations (it's definitely not all bog standard pub food and fish & chips here), in the Estrella Damm Top 50 Gastropub Awards at the beginning of 2023, Norfolk claimed 6 of the top spots, pitting both Devon and Cornwall at the post. With Brancaster Oysters, Cromer Crab, Norfolk Black Turkey, Stiffkey Cockles, Mrs Temple Cheeses, Samphire, Norfolk Asparagus and Norfolk Game all a Michelin quality chef’s staples, you can easily see why the Norfolk foodie scene is coming into its own. With 2 Michelin Star restaurants and counting, another 2 with Michelin Bib Gourmands and 11 Michelin recommended, Norfolk really is fast becoming the foodie Capital of England (after London of course!)

Not everyone will want to move out of the City and live here like we did, but the North Norfolk Coast really is the perfect getaway whatever you’re looking for. It’s easy to reach, yet feels like a world away from the hustle and bustle of London. Stunning natural beauty, tranquil atmosphere and amazing foodie scene - it's no wonder why we love it so much and more and more Londoners are choosing to visit the North Norfolk Coast over the more well known places like The Cotswolds, Devon and Cornwall. Why not experience it for yourself, before like Hattie Garlick from The Telegraph said, “it’s heaving with hipsters and unaffordable” 😂

...and if I've tempted you to try Norfolk, sign up to our newsletter for exclusive offers and recommendations on pubs, restaurants and hotels in the area.


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