There’s a bitter rivalry between Norfolk and Suffolk, so I’ve grown up surrounded by jokes about the people with six toes who live in Norfolk – not the best way to encourage you to visit somewhere! However, I also know that Norfolk is known for the beautiful broads, amazing beaches and incredible wildlife so when the opportunity to visit the new Travelodge in King’s Lynn landed in my inbox, I was excited for a weekend in the countryside.
If you're looking to escape for a weekend away, King's Lynn is a great base to explore Norfolk, the local nature and of course, head to the seaside. King’s Lynn is one of those old-fashioned English towns in which shops close on Sunday, pubs don't take card and the town has a distinct feel that it doesn't quite fit into the wider world. However there are some gems to visit over a weekend; a fascinating maritime history, courtyards and gardens and pubs by the riverside. Marriott’s Warehouse is perfect for a pit-stop with a view after walking along the river and has the benefit of being dog-friendly. Our Travelodge was a great location for a weekend exploring, a short walk into the centre which meant that we could easily head to the centre but also escape into the country. Travelodge are one of my top hotel chains as they are just so reliable; a giant comfy bed, helpful and welcoming staff and cute breakfast boxes which were perfect for fueling our adventures!
If you’re looking for a “proper English pub,” King’s Lynn has a total gem in the Crown and Mitre, set in a beautiful location with nautical decorations, a vinery with views over the Great Ouse and even picnic tables right out on the river’s edge. You have to pay in cash, it only serves local ales and houses the grumpiest barman you’ve ever met. He’s well renowned for it and part of the appeal of the pub is meeting this miserable gentleman, who loves to moan and insult his customers as they order a pint. If you want to eat, you’d better get there early – the barman’s long suffering wife (as cheerful as he is miserable) cooks up traditional pub grub but once it’s gone, the kitchen shuts. We missed out on dinner but luckily returned the next day for giant portions of Sunday Lunch, with lashings of gravy and mountains of veg. It was perfect!
Sandringham and Castle Rising
Although King's Lynn has some great pubs, it's certainly not big enough to spend a whole weekend in on its own, so we made the most of a weekend away and explored the surrounding countryside in my little Fiat 500. There are plenty of tourist desinations to visit near King’s Lynn. The most famous of course is the Sandringham Estate, the Queen's private estate. It costs £15.50 to visit the house, museum and gardens and is a short drive from King’s Lynn.
A lesser known place to visit is Castle Rising, a short drive from King's Lynn. It costs £4.50 for entry, which is a little pricey for a small castle but parking is free. This 12th century castle is allegedly the "finest in England" and it's fun to explore the various rooms, low stone arches and the history of the castle as the royal residence of Queen Isabella. The village is a short walk from the castle, with a Norman parish church, the historic Trinity Hospital and a tea room for a cake stop!
Brancaster Beach and Brancaster Staithe Harbour
Brancaster Beach is one of the most well known beaches in Norfolk and it was so much more beautiful than I was expecting. Be warned though; the beach is vast and the tide is fast! We almost got swept away when we paddled out to sea to watch the sunset, only to turn around to see the tide quickly coming around us. It was great fun to wade through the water back to safety - but five minutes later, we might have been in trouble!
We also explored Brancaster Staithe Harbour, once busy port and now wildlife haven. The harbour is packed full of boats, dog-walkers, vans selling freshly caught seafood and of course, ice cream. We got distracted from the signposted National Trust route and wandered onto the mudflats, hunting for birds and sea lavender. The mudflats are amazing for exploring and spotting wildlife (and yes, I did get stuck in the mud!)
King's Lynn is somewhere I wouldn't have normally considered but and I'm definitely planning to return to Norfolk and explore more in the future. It's an underrated UK destination and one I'm sorry to have dismissed due to the Norfolk-Suffolk rivalry for all these years! Have you visited King's Lynn? Where else would you recommend in Norfolk?
My trip was courtesy of Travelodge but all thoughts, opinions and adventures are my own.