Breathtaking scenery, a hipster vibe and amazing food…Johanna Payton says Home Farm North Norfolk is one of 2017’s most (pleasantly) surprising no-fly destinations
New Year has never been my favourite seasonal celebration. The house parties are manic, it’s a fortune to get into the local, restaurant prices are extortionate…you know the drill.
For a midwinter stay, the cosy living room and log burner were welcome, but a summer holiday vibe is on tap thanks to the indoor swimming pool
So this year, we decided to do a bunk; get out of London altogether and see-in 2017 on neutral ground.
We figured a heady mix of country air, pub grub and a distinct absence of New Year “hosting” obligations would get the New Year off to a brilliant start.
I’m not quite sure how we settled on North Norfolk, but when we found out about Naroogal Cottage at Weybourne Home Farm, we were totally sold.
Naroogal had everything we were looking for (and more). We needed accommodation for four adults and three children – and Naroogal’s two generous doubles and one triple bedroom were ideal.
For a midwinter stay, the cosy living room and log burner were very welcome, but a summer holiday vibe is on tap year-round thanks to the gorgeous (heated) indoor swimming pool (shared with other holidaymakers staying in various cottages on the small, friendly site), mini gym and games room for the kids.
The owners strive for a “mini Centre Parcs” feel, and I’d say they’ve nailed it.
The site itself is very pretty. The cottages are traditional North Norfolk brick and flint with lovely patios, off-road parking, a play area for children and pretty gardens. Logs are free for guests and in plentiful supply (the kids enjoyed taking the basket up to the wood store for refills) and, in the laundry room, there’s a communal collection of books, games and DVDs to dip into.
Another holiday highlight was the comprehensive guidebook, compiled by Sally, co-owner of the family run site.
Sally came to meet us in the cottage upon arrival and her local knowledge and warm hospitality made us feel immediately at home. The guest book reflects Sally’s North Norfolk know-how: she lives at Home Farm and raised her two (now grown-up) children there, so she has oodles of info and tips for families.
We used the guidebook to inform our first evening out, driving along the coast to Salthouse. There, we enjoyed a delicious evening meal at the Dun Cow, a smart, friendly pub with a dining room at the back – and delicious locally sourced food. The juicy steaks we had for supper were just the ticket.
We woke up on the morning of December 31 to crystal clear blue skies: perfect weather for a walk on the beach.
Home Farm is in a great position for coastal walks (the North Norfolk coast is an area of outstanding natural beauty), with Weybourne beach just a stroll through the village away.
The village itself has a pub, a church and a store. But – as we were fast discovering – every nook of Norfolk comes with a contemporary twist: the store sold craft beers and fancy pastries, and the pub, The Ship Inn, does a fantastic line in seafood platters, packed with fishy delights caught on the local beach (we loved the long and lazy NYE lunch we ate there).
After driving to nearby Cromer (home of crabs, amusement arcades, fantastic fish and chips, a cute pier and plenty of classic seaside shops) and stocking up at the supermarket, we lit the fire, closed the curtains and had a wonderfully cosy and quiet New Year’s Eve.
At midnight, we wrote wishes on paper and threw them into the fire: all in all, a roaring success.
Thanks to the sedate celebrations, we were all over a New Year’s day walk along the blowy cliff tops. Ok, so maybe when I say “all” I actually mean two of the grown-ups were wrapped up and ready to go: the kids opted for an extended gaming session and a lift into town.
We took the walk from Weybourne to Sheringham in our stride, even though the weather had turned a wee bit “bracing”.
I can only imagine how glorious the ramble would be on a bright and sunny spring or summer’s day.
Once we reached Sheringham, cobwebs blown to smithereens, we warmed up with drinks at the Two Lifeboats. Another traditional Norfolk boozer, it looked, from the outside, as if it might harbour pirates, but turned out to be a hipster’s paradise within.
Dinner was devoured at the Lobster Inn…and yes, you guessed it; the quirky murals of ‘Allo ‘Allo and Dad’s Army on the exterior wall don’t really reflect the buzzy, family friendly atmosphere inside.
We didn’t have to wait long for a table, and local mussels tossed with tagliatelle and served with buttery garlic bread got January off to a delicious start.
Back at the cottage, we swam off our excesses, snuggled-up in front of the fire and, making more use of the spacious kitchen, rustled up the final supper of our stay.
We all fell a little bit in love with Norfolk. It’s obvious to see why so many people are drawn there from the South East. There are no motorways, the coastline is stunning, the vibe is friendly and the food is out of this world. It’s a little bit Shoreditch-on-sea – with a whole lot of traditional Norfolk charm.
Home Farm instantly became a home from home and we’re considering a repeat experience at the end of the year.
Having said that, I’m willing to bet a Norfolk summer is a rather beautiful thing to behold…
How to get to Home Farm North Norfolk without flying:
Although there is a train station in Sheringham, the easiest way to get to – and around – Home Farm is by car.
From the A1 or M11 head towards King’s Lynn or Norwich. From King’s Lynn the A148 will take you through Holt to Weybourne. From Norwich, the A140 provides the most direct route and passes through Cromer if you want to stop off to see the sights – or grab supplies.
Words: Johanna Payton for Feet on the Ground
Images: Johanna Payton/Home Farm