Thetford to King's Lynn
A diverse tour concluding with lavender and a royal residence
Thetford to King’s Lynn
Houghton St Giles to Wells-next-the-Sea
Follow the route - Thetford to King's Lynn
Thetford to Dereham
> Leave Thetford on the A1075 heading north to Dereham.
St Withburga founded a nunnery here in the 7th century, and St Withburga’s Well can be found in St Nicholas’s churchyard. The town has some fine Georgian buildings, and Bishop Bonner’s Cottage Museum has attractive pargeting.
On the road north to Fakenham, is the GressenHall Farm and Workhouse, which has rare breeds of sheep, cattle, pigs and poultry, and an interesting museum of farming.
Places to stay near Dereham
Dereham to Fakenham
> Continue north on the B1110, then take the B1146 to Fakenham.
Fakenham is a delightful small market town which dates from Saxon times. Its parish church has a commanding 15th-century tower, and the two old coaching inns in the Market Place have traces of earlier architecture behind their Georgian façades. The fascinating Gas Museum, which is open on occasional days throughout the summer, explains how gas was made and contains the only complete gasworks in England.
Just a mile (1.6km) away is the Pensthorpe Park, which houses a large selection of birds, and aims to protect waterfowl and wetland habitats.
Places to stay in Fakenham
Norfolk Coast Caravan & Camping at Fakenham Racecourse
Fakenham to Houghton St Giles
> Cross the A148 and take the B1105 north, soon turning right to follow an unclassified road to Houghton St Giles.
Visiting Houghton St Giles
The attractive village of Houghton St Giles has old links with Walsingham, including a small chapel on the old Walsingham Way, known as the Slipper Chapel because pilgrims would remove their shoes before completing their journey barefoot to Little Walsingham, which has been a Christian shrine since 1061. The Anglican Shrine and the Roman Catholic Shrine are at either end of the Holy Mile, and a ruined abbey stands amid pleasant gardens.
Great Walsingham, just a few minutes along the unclassified road from Little Walsingham, is well known for its textile centre, where you can watch the screen-printing process.
Places to stay in Houghton St Giles
Houghton St Giles to Wells-next-the-Sea
> Continue north on the unclassified road to Wells-next-the-Sea.
The Wells and Walsingham Light Railway runs through 4 miles (6.5km) of countryside to the famous pilgrimage villages of Walsingham, and is the longest 10 1⁄4-inch (26cm) narrow-gauge steam railway in the world.
The town of Wells still has many of its 18th- and 19th-century houses, set in a network of alleys and yards near the small quay, which first started trading in wool over 600 years ago.
Places to stay in Wells-next-the-Sea
Wells-next-the-Sea to Holkham
> Follow the A149 west for 2 miles (3km) to Holkham.
In a beautiful deer park with a lake landscaped by Capability Brown, is the 18th-century mansion of Holkham Hall, just south of the village of Holkham. Its art collection includes work by Rubens, Van Dyck and Gainsborough and there is an amazing marble hall. In the Bygones Collection, over 4,000 items have been assembled from kitchens, dairies and cars.
Places to stay near Holkham
Holkham to Burnham Market
> Continue further along the A149, then left on to the B1155 to Burnham Market.
Visiting Burnham Market
Burnham Market is the main village in a group of seven Burnhams, clustered closely together, and has a handsome, wide village green surrounded by elegant 18th-century houses. The Burnhams were made famous by Horatio Nelson, who probably learned to sail on the muddy creeks of the coast before being sent away to sea at the age of 12. He was born in 1758 at Burnham Thorpe, where his father was the rector, and the lectern in the church is made from timbers from his ship, the Victory.
Places to stay in Burnham Market
Burnham Market to Hunstanton
> Return to the A149 for 12 miles (19km) to Hunstanton.
Hunstanton developed as a seaside resort in the 19th century, and is famous for its red-and-white striped chalk cliffs and excellent beaches. At the Sea Life Sanctuary fish, seals and crabs are all around as you walk through varied marine settings. England’s only lavender farm, Norfolk Lavender, is just south of town, at Heacham. A national collection of lavender plants is assembled here, and there is a herb garden with more than 50 varieties of culinary and decorative plants.
Places to stay in Hunstanton
Hunstanton to Sandringham
> Head south on the A149, then the B1440 from Snettisham to Sandringham.
The royal estate of Sandringham covers 20,000 acres (8,100 hectares) and was bought by Queen Victoria for the Prince of Wales in 1862. The grounds contain the parish Church of St Mary Magdalene, a museum, nature trails and a playground.
A former royal residence can be seen at Castle Rising, further south, where the splendid Norman castle was built in the 12th century for the Earls of Sussex but later belonged to the Earls of Norfolk. The shell of the Great Hall is still impressive.
Places to stay near Sandringham
Sandringham to King's Lynn
> Turn right after Sandringham on to the B1439 back to rejoin the A149, then an unclassified road (past Castle Rising) to South Wootton and back to King’s Lynn.
Visiting King’s Lynn
Known to locals simply as Lynn, its original name, King’s Lynn is an architectural dream, with almost every period represented, ranging from St Nicholas’ Chapel – built between 1145 and 1420 – to picturesque Burkitt Court almshouses, built in 1909 in memory of a Lynn corn merchant. You can take a stroll to see this living heritage – it makes for a great day out.
Places to stay in King's Lynn
King's Lynn Caravan and Camping Park