Norfolk overview

Old clever-cloggs, Noel Coward, was not one to let inconvenient facts get in the way of a well-crafted aphorism as his comment on our county demonstrates. It implies that this is really all there is to say about the place. And yet, from a different perspective it is a wise statement because any description of Norfolk has to be limited in scope: the skies are vast; the ocean is immeasurable; the people are hardy; the easterly wind on the North Norfolk Coast can rip through any articles of clothing; and, yes, Noel, the land IS flat. But it is not possible to come up with a valid sentence that summarises the character of whole county.

Holkham beach on the Norfolk coast

Holkham, Norfolk

Yes, statements can be made about individual towns, themes and areas. The city of Norwich is the most complete medieval city in the Kingdom. The northern coast is beautiful beyond description with some internationally important bird sanctuaries. The Broads are indeed, to quote Ted Ellis, ‘a breathing place for the cure of souls’. Ancient Royalty was very partial to the salted herrings of Great Yarmouth. The greatest ever British Admiral, Lord Nelson, gained a first taste for the sea at Brancaster. Cromer crabs are supreme. The range of beautiful churches, laboured on by families as an act of love for generations, are wondrous and compelling. The county has stimulated an incredible amount of great literature –  from The Hound of the Baskervilles by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle to The Shrimp and The Anemone by LP Hartley. And so on.

Some places are complex and contradictory. Take Hunstanton, for example. To start with, it is pronounced ‘Hunstan’, or ‘Sunny Hunny’ by the locals who dwell in a state of perpetual optimism. Looking out to sea, at the never ending ‘ highway to heaven’ in hues of pink, orange, silver, green and blue, as the sun sets of a very long evening, is a never-to-be-forgotten experience of peace and stillness. As is the sighting, on lazy hazy summer days, of magical castles and boats in a mirage – OK, perhaps it isn’t – on the far horizon. Yet the sea can also blast away a pier, and a storm in the Wash, perhaps of tsunami intensity, is said to have swept King John’s crown jewels to the bottom of the ocean. At times like this, nature seems to be saying ‘take me as I am: you don’t have to like me’.

Hunstanton beach and cliffs

Hunstanton, Norfolk

Us locals would not have it any other way. Being a  ‘bit out of the way’, our county, customs, dialect and way of life have never been simple or easy to understand – no slick advertising agency can brand Norfolk as anything other than ‘Norfolk’.

That is why we love it so.

Text copyright Stephen Browning 2015

Norfolk Map

If you are planning a holiday or weekend break to Norfolk, you may find our Map of Norfolk useful for how to find the county of Norfolk. We also highlight on the map great ideas for where to go in Norfolk and the best attractions to visit.

Map of Norfolk

Map of Norfolk

If you need more inspiration to visit Norfolk, then checkout the live Norfolk Webcams for fine views of the Norfolk coast and the tranquil Norfolk Broads – you’ll wish you were there already!

Walking in Norfolk

Say what you like about Norfolk, and many people do, there is no denying that the Peddars Way and the North Norfolk Coastal Paths are a national treasure in any sense of the word. Along these two walking routes you will discover Norfolk in all its natural beauty.

The Peddars Way may have started its life due to the rebellious nature of folk in this part of the world. Boudicca had been particularly revolting to the Roman conquerors and had come within a whisker of throwing them out of the country altogether. Some say that Peddars Way was constructed to make it easy to move legions around the area in order to inflict retribution on the East Angles for their literally bare-faced cheek in defying the might of Rome. Certainly, some parts include obvious Roman engineering feats and we know that the Emperor Nero was so alarmed – and he wasn’t prone to undue panic too much , having married his sister and insisting his horse be made a Consul – at the scale of revengeful atrocities that he sacked the governor of the region and despatched an envoy to report back on what was going on.

Norfolk Weather

The climate in East Anglia is to some degree continental, with the area you will walk subject to less rain than other parts of the UK. It is at the centre of four air masses, northerlies, southerlies, easterlies and westerlies which can bring, respectively, icy, warm, windy and wet conditions in almost any variation. There is really nowhere else in the UK where weather will play such a large and unpredictable part in your adventures! Check out the situation at