A self-cater­ing cot­tage com­bines sky-high stan­dards and the chance to re­lax and parts of Nor­folk you might rarely reach, writes Rowan Man­tell


imag­ine the scene. The rain has been ham­mer­ing down the en­tire way. It’s dark. You find the house, un­lock the front door and it swings open on to an im­mac­u­late hall­way, pale-car­peted stairs stretch­ing to­wards stylish bed­rooms and bath­rooms. The heat­ing is on; to the left is a large lamp-lit sit­ting room with blonde floor­boards and rugs, a wood-burner, posh so­fas, books to browse; to the right a kitchendin­er, white-tiled floor, huge wooden ta­ble and benches, and on the ta­ble a ham­per packed with bread, nib­bles, bis­cuits, jam, choco­lates. There is wine and milk in the fridge, and up­stairs, on the bliss­fully com­fort­able beds, white bathrobes and slip­pers for ev­ery guest.

This is a Bare­foot Re­treats cot­tage. Our home for the week­end was Sand­pipers, Snet­tisham.

The vil­lage is lovely, with an im­pres­sive church (the spire sec­on­donly to Norwich Cathe­dral in Nor­folk.) There are shops, a pub which has won na­tional awards, and no-one need go hun­gry with a chippy and a fine-din­ing place too.

We woke to sun­shine, a field of horses in the fore­ground, then farm­land and wood­land into the dis­tance. Be­yond this was the sea and later in the day we took a foot­path across the field op­po­site, over the road, through the woods and out on to mead­ows and marshes and the grassy mounds of coastal de­fences and a vast, vast beach.

Snet­tisham is fa­mous for its gold torcs, hid­den close to the vil­lage more than 2,000 years ago. They are now some of the star ex­hibits in the Bri­tish Mu­seum and Norwich Cas­tle, but a hol­i­day here is a chance to ex­pe­ri­ence more of the jewels of West Nor­folk. We were within walk­ing dis­tance of the coastal foot­path, the RSPB re­serve, and the San­dring­ham es­tate and its paths and lanes link­ing pretty vil­lages.

We went with friends. They took a trip to sunny Hunny and we all spent an evening en­joy­ing Lynn Lu­miere. The fan­tas­ti­cally-equipped new house, and the lux­ury and in­for­mal­ity of­fered by self-cater­ing cot­tages, would also be ideal for fam­i­lies.

At break­fast on our fi­nal morn­ing, look­ing out across the gar­den we saw wa­ver­ing lines of black sketch­ing across the sky. As they came closer they so­lid­i­fied into fast-flow­ing V shapes of hun­dreds of geese. Out­side the sky was alive with the cries of the birds as they pow­ered north above us, treat­ing us to one of the nat­u­ral won­ders of Nor­folk.

We were guests of Bare­foot Re­treats, based in Burn­ham Mar­ket. A short break for five at Sand­piper costs from £496. bare­foot-re­treats.

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