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For those wanting to Escape The Everyday and book a short break in a city with plenty of freedom to explore, read on. Who knew Norwich was a city within a national park? A city full of unexpected urban walks taking the path less trodden. A city to explore on foot, on water, on a bike. A city where you can canoe and stand up paddleboard (SUP) from dawn to dusk. A city to forage for wild strawberries. A city full of space which you can make your own.
Finally, we can plan a UK break. Hurrah! It’s time to put our paintbrushes down, and instead ‘paint the town’– without of course breaking any rules.
Not many people know this, but Norwich is the only city in the country within a national park, namely The Broads National Park. So how about jumping on board The Maids Head Hotel’s Myrtle Fish boat and cruising down the Wensum to Whitlingham Country Park whilst taking afternoon tea?
Just 2 miles from Norwich city centre, crowd-free Whitlingham Country Park is 280 acres of pure natural space: broads, petite beaches, flora and fauna – bursting with nature. And you can enjoy it all for free from dusk until dawn. Take a walk during the dawn chorus, or set up your yoga mat and breath fresh, clean air. Slowly. Make a picnic from Norwich Market for an evening by the water after a visit to Dominic and Toby at Sir Toby’s Beers to pick up your booze. Or get active with a long walk, cycle ride or run – or better still enjoy the park’s natural facilities on the water by taking your own canoe or SUP.
Urban walking is a joy in Norwich as the city unfolds in front of your eyes to unearth unexpected green spaces like St Gregory’s Green. Grab fish and chips from The Grosvenor Fish Bar and take a pew in the sun. Mousehold Heath at the top of St James’ Hill will take you around 15 minutes to walk from Norwich Cathedral but it’s worth the climb. This is the best view of Norwich – a timeline of history taking in Norwich Cathedral, The Forum, St Peter Mancroft Church and City Hall, 900 years of incredible architecture laid before you. And it’s the perfect place for a stunning sunset.
Norwich was England’s first UNESCO City of Literature and our National Centre for Writing waves the flag for the city when it comes to all things concerning the written word. Including a marvellous collection of unusual urban walks in Norwich written by people born or drawn here. Copies of Walking Norwich The Real and Imagined City are free (donations welcomed £5) and will take you through (in their words) “layers of stories embedded in a city that never stands still”.
Paul Dickson Tours offer yet another side of Norwich. With prices from just £7.50 Paul personally walks and talks you around and across Norwich sharing his local history knowledge covering themes including: A Black History of Norwich; Historic Pubs of Norwich; Norwich – the City of Stories and Shardlake’s Norwich. We guarantee this is 1.5 hours of time well spent.
Another great way to appreciate the city’s extraordinary green spaces is to hire a cycle and take to the Marriott’s Way. If you can find it, it has an interesting gateway – off the roundabout where Barn Road meets Barker Street. It doesn’t get more hidden than this. It’s a true local secret. Following two disused railway lines (26-miles long) between Norwich and the historic market town of Aylsham this is a serious cycle trail. However, if you fancy something more leisurely there’s also 9 shorter circular routes.
Marriott’s Way offers plenty of wildlife, woodland and wild meadows. Heading into summer the whole route is lush green with canopies of overhanging ancient trees. Butterflies and darting dragonflies are plentiful, whilst geese meander in nearby fields; look out for kestrels, owls, magpies and ducks. Orchids, cowslips and wild strawberries flourish in this habitat – make time for a some foraging.
Once last thing, please be respectful of the countryside remember: Respect, Protect, Enjoy. The Norfolk Broads can be the perfect idyllic escape but there are healthy and safety precautions you must consider first. Visit the Broads Authority website for more.
Plan your UK break and book a stay at..
Don’t waste a minute, stay in the heart of Norwich – a stone’s throw from all these experiences plus independent and high street shops, eateries, pubs and attractions.
Gothic House B&B: sumptuous breakfasts in Georgian style £105 per room per night
The Maids Head Hotel: the most historic in Norwich prices from £120 per room per night
The Assembly House: posh B&B some rooms with outdoor spaces from £170 per room per night
Plan your UK break and visit…
Afternoon tea in glorious Georgian surroundings at The Assembly House
Outdoor drinks and dining at retro Bowling House
Street food from around the world at Norwich Market
Fine dining outdoors at The Last
Picnics at Plantation Garden, Cathedral Close or Castle Gardens
Glorious galleries full of art at Norwich Castle Museum & Art Gallery
Outdoor escape games with City Escapes
Gin making experiences with Gyre & Gimble
Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts Sculpture Park
Shop in a Victorian skating rink at Country & Eastern
Escape at Plantation Garden – Norwich’s secret garden
18-hole Crazy Golf at Eaton Park
How to get here
All the accommodation mentioned offer free car parking but if you want to take the train, Norwich is only 2 hours from London Liverpool Street with Greater Anglia.
Direct services also from: Colchester, Ipswich, Cambridge, Nottingham and Manchester.
Flights with Loganair from Exeter and Edinburgh from 12 July 2021.