Walk it off:
There’s always a point in the festive holidays when it is time to put the Quality Street to one side, get the dog’s lead and head out for a breath of fresh air...
Some ideas on where to go on Boxing Day
Winterton is a wonderful place to visit in the colder months and makes a cracking Boxing Day destination.
Park behind the dunes in the designated car park and then make your way down onto the wide white sandy beach. Perfect for dogs, children and walkers, the beach is spacious and never busy in winter.
Seals have been spotted close to the shore and have even been known to swim alongside walkers on the beach!
HOLME AND HUNSTANTON
Holme-next-the-sea is where the Norfolk Coast Path and Peddar’s Way begin. Holme’s claim to fame is that this is where the 4,000 year old timbers of Sea Henge were found, although they have now been relocated.
The beach is relatively quiet and is backed by sand dunes and there is a pleasant walk from Holme via a path to Hunstanton golf course. Hunstanton is famed for spectacular sunsets, so climb the cliffs in the evening and admire the display from on high. The beach runs along the coastline for a couple of miles making for long peaceful walks beside the famous striped cliffs where fossils may often be found.
Family fun resorts in winter take on a totally different character, with a deserted sea front and all the amusement arcades and entertainment palaces shuttered until spring.
There is something charming about a quiet stroll along the empty pavements and empty beach – and the unspoilt sand dunes of North Denes are definitely worth a visit, a spot where you can wander to your heart’s content.
If you like the idea of a walk in the woods, Thetford Forest makes a compelling case, not least because it has four well-marked paths to choose from of varying lengths, depending on how much Christmas pud you took on board. One of the delights of the forest is
that it can absorb large numbers of people easily, so you can find yourself alone quite quickly although you may also have one of the resident squirrels or deer joining you for company.
If you need to pause for a moment handy notice boards point out various attractions and explain the work of the Forestry Commission, so you can feign interest while you get your breath back.
BLICKLING AND FELBRIGG
There are plenty of fine walks around the 4,500 acre National Trust property at Blickling Hall, which take in its park and lake. The National Trust has designed marked trails with separate options, depending on how far you want to walk and what sights you want to take in.
Sights to see include the Great Wood, the mausoleum – England’s only pyramid (a great question for trivia fans) – and, of course, the house and lake. It’s actually quite difficult to get lost and if you do wander on to another path by mistake, don’t panic – they finish at the same place.
Felbrigg is also a bit of a gem for walkers, with 500 acres of woodland to explore. There are way-marked trails through the Great Wood (do they all have Great Woods?) and a lake which may or may not be attributable to Humphry Repton...
Something of a poster beach for Norfolk’s ‘big skies’, a walk on Brancaster’s miles of sandy beaches, among dunes and salt marshes is an inspiring experience. Get your timing right and you might catch a glimpse of the remains of the shipwrecked ‘Vina’, which lies on a sandbank. Don’t be tempted to wander over too close, though, as the tides can be extremely dangerous.
A vast and beautiful expanse of sand leading for miles to the sea, with a backdrop of dunes and forests, this is another part of Norfolk that can absorb countless visitors. Park on St Anne’s Drive – you’ll need some change for the ticket machine – and make your way through the pine forest towards the sea.
This wide-open beach is perfect for children and dogs and you can make your walk as long or short as you can like. If you’re really up for it you can walk along the beach to Wells, then return to Holkham through the more sheltered woodland paths. The new Lookout brings some welcome facilities, too.
With half the county only a 30-minute drive away from the Broads, it is a popular choice for a festive wander. If you’re feeling really energetic why not try the How Hill to St Benet’s Abbey walk? It’s a few yards over seven miles long but it’s pretty flat and is a super walk. The Broads Authority website has a good little map to download as well.
If you’re looking for something less strenuous, go to Reedham and take the little walk (1.5 miles) through the village, alongside the River Yare and back through the common. It even claims to have a small hill to climb!
SOME USEFUL WEBSITES FOR WALKS
norfolk.gov.uk/out-and-aboutin-norfolk/norfolk-trails nationaltrail.co.uk nationaltrust.org.uk/blicklingestate nationaltrust.org.uk/felbrigghall-gardens-and-estate holkham.co.uk
BELOW: Felbrigg Hall
St Benet’s Abbey
ABOVE: The winter sun sets over Brancaster