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Tuesday, 3 November 2020

Norfolk on wheels 1

 I appreciate that most people prefer to take their holidays in the middle of summer, when the sun shines brightly and you can wear shorts and t-shirts and eat ice cream... well I'm just different! I love autumn and winter holidays! There is nothing to beat getting all wrapped up and going out hiking or sight seeing with all the beautiful colours of autumn and then stopping for hot chocolate and maybe some fudge.

This year, we decided to go somewhere we've never been before and so we booked a cottage in Norfolk (more about the cottage later) and had some days out exploring the area. Here, in this first post, are the first couple of day trips...

Sandringham Estate

With Covid being a serious concern, we wanted somewhere outdoors to hike but with decent facilities, including toilets and a hot drink. Maybe it's connected with family walks when the kids were little, but I just can't resist those walks where you follow coloured arrows on wooden posts, and Sandringham was great for this. We did the yellow walk - about 3.5 miles and it was perfect for us. Here's a little collage of photos from our hike.

A collage of photos showing me in my mountain trike with Liggy, my black labrador, in the woods, surrounded by orange and brown leaves and a mixture of different trees.

From an accessibility point of view, I would say two things... 

1. The toilets are great! You need a RADAR key, which generally means a clean and well maintained loo experience. It's a proper toilet block too, with good handwashing facilities.

2. The walks are technically wheelchair accessible, in that there are no steps or stiles. However, I can't imagine attempting them in anything but an off-road chair. My mountain trike handled it very well and something like a tramper would probably be fine, but there are lots of ups and downs, and things like tree roots, bogs, soft ground, grass, pebbles, etc. I don't think I would even want to try it in my normal chair with a freewheel. 

Hunstanton

I'll start by saying that we didn't intend to visit this lovely seaside town on such a windy day! We actually set off to Holkham Hall and Estate but when we got there, it was closed, so we had a last minute change of plan. 

In terms of access, I was pretty impressed with Hunstanton. There were plenty of toilets - not perfect, but spacious and clean (you'll need a RADAR key) and somebody has clearly thought about how a wheelchair user would manage cliff paths and tricky terrain.

Collage of photos showing the cliffs, view over the Wash towards Skeggy wind farm, and the promenade

It was extremely windy, the day we visited, and it was pretty tiring fighting against the wind along the prom, though it was very pretty and so nice to hear/see the sea. Wind hypes poor Liggy up something rotten though - it's her nemesis - and so I was fighting against her a lot of the time too, which drains me a bit. It also meant we couldn't really let her off lead on the beach, which was a shame. 

At the cliffs end of the prom, there's a long ramp, taking you up to the Lookout, from where you can see right across the Wash towards Boston - you can just see the Stump on a clear day - and to Skegness and the off-shore wind farm. 

Going the other way, we walked almost all the way to Heacham. The prom is wide and well surfaced. I happened to be in my trike but my normal chair would have handled it well, especially with my Loopwheels and possibly a freewheel. We only really turned back because I needed a toilet and a passer-by was kind enough to let us know that the toilets in Heacham were all locked up.

Would we go back?

Absolutely! These were two fab days out. Loved the venues! Accessible(ish) with the right equipment. We would definitely choose a still day to go back to the beach. Out of season, there are no dog restrictions and Liggy could run for miles and have a great time. The beach is mainly sandy but with pebbles at the top and millions of mussel shells. 

Hopefully, I'll share some other Norfolk days out soon, as well as some pics and a review of the cottages.

Just a word of warning about the aforementioned hot chocolate and fudge... Her Maj is raking it in! A small bag of fudge... £7!!! You might want to remortgage the house first!

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