It’s a new year – hooray!

A great way to kick off a new year, beat the blues caused by shorter, darker, colder days, and enjoy more of Norfolk is to get walking.

If you follow us on Instagram or have listened to our Norfolk & Good podcast, you’ll know we love a good walk.

Here are 3 walks in Norfolk that we did as a family over the festive period:

1. Cromer Lighthouse Walk

Enjoy sea views and an official Banksy on this circular, multi-terrain walk.

This is a favourite go-to walk of ours and we’ve made it a tradition every Christmas Eve.
Park in Cromer town centre (we usually use Meadow Road car park behind the Tourist Information Centre. It’s pay-and-display’ but there are toilets in the TIC that are always open when we visit and great for pre- and post walk use!).

From the car park, cross at the crossing in front of the Tourist Information Centre, turn right, walk along and then head left down Chapel Street into the town centre. Walk right along Church Street, turn left down Brooke Street (The Albion pub is on the corner). Turn right down Surrey Street (before The Red Lion Pub) and down to The Gangway. Almost exactly opposite your exit from Surrey Street, before The Gangway becomes Brunswick Terrace (and descends down to where the fishing boats are), walk straight over, through some bollards.

Walk along the tarmac route past a small thatched building on your left, next to Cromer’s sunken garden (looks not unlike a bus shelter) and carry on. You will pass the Henry Blogg Memorial on your right, behind which is the Cromer Town Council building. Henry Blogg was the much-decorated coxswain of the Cromer Lifeboat between 1909 & 1947 and all-round Norfolk Hero.

Continue round and along the tarmac path with the sea on your left, offering great views of Cromer beach. There are benches every now and then if you want to sit and take in the view properly. On your right is the new North Lodge Park play area and viewing platforms – a perfect stopping point if you’re with little ones. You’ll notice that the incline starts to rise.

Eventually the track enters heathland (on the edge of Warren Woods / ‘Happy Valley’). The sea is on your left.

Continue walking up one of several paths until you see Cromer Lighthouse on your right (ish). You can now leave the walk and pop up to visit it, and then return back to rejoin your walk.

Perched some 84m above the sea on the cliffs overlooking the sandy beach of Cromer, Cromer Lighthouse was built by Trinity House in 1833 on a hilly area of the Norfolk coast known as the Cromer Ridge.

In June 1990 the lighthouse was converted to automatic operation and is monitored from the Trinity House Operation Control Centre at Harwich in Essex. We’ve been told that there is also a lighthouse attendant on site who looks after the lighthouse.

The lighthouse tower is not open to the public nowadays but the area around the lighthouse is easily accessible.

There is a circular walk back to Cromer from the lighthouse, along a path through the Royal Cromer Golf Club and turning right along the road until you return to cromer. We’ve done that walk before as well, but in this walk we return via the beach.

Rejoining (or continuing, depending on whether you took a closer look at Cromer Lighthouse) your walk, go back on yourself slightly, heading on the cliff top track closest to the beach. Through the gorse, on your right, you’ll find the steps through the woods that lead down to the beach (keep your eyes peeled as the steps are well camouflaged). Take care! Though there is a handrail, these are steep and, in the words of Bon Jovi, slippery when wet.

At the bottom of the steps, you’ll be on the beach. Turn left and make your way back to Cromer, pausing to stop and take a look at the Banksy which is behind a concrete groin on the right, before you reach the line of coloured beach huts on your left. it’s smaller than you might imagine so can be easily missed.

Back in Cromer, you can refuel at one of the lovely pubs, cafes or coffee shops. Or treat yourself to Fish & Chips. If you’ve still got time, try your luck on the 2p machines in the arcades.

Notes about this walk:

Time & Distance

We haven’t measured this walk accurately but would say it’s a couple of miles in distance (1-2 miles) and maybe takes an hour to an hour and a half, depending on your speed.

This is not an entirely accessible walk as it involves steep steps and muddy, uneven terrain. However, the first part, until you enter the heathland is broad and flat, so you could do that part and then turn back to return to cromer. You’ll still benefit from some lovely views and see the Henry Blogg memorial, etc.

Parts of this walk are muddy underfoot, especially after rain, so take care. The part around the Lighthouse is also on the cliff tops, so obviously care should be taken here and young children supervised.

As far as we’re aware, dogs can be taken on this walk, but double check beach access in high summer, as we usually do this the winter months.

2. Colney and Bowthorpe Southern Park, Norwich – The Yare Valley Walk

Since moving house, and no longer having the wonderful Marston Marshes on our doorstep, we felt duty bound to explore the new local area and discover some new walks.

So over Christmas, we tackled some of the Yare Valley Walk, which took us across the rather marvellously named ‘Bridge of Dreams’.

Opened in 2018, this Colney/Bowthorpe bridge over the Yare links a Colney bridleway with an ancient track into Bowthorpe. I’d never been over it before. Or even heard of it, if I’m honest.

It led us to Bowthorpe Southern Park, an unspoilt green space shared with various flora and fauna, including several bird species and some pretty tame horses. There are several walks and trails to explore.

We followed a route under Tollgate Way, onto Bowthorpe Marshes, which led to Earlham Park, past St Mary’s Church in Earlham, which dates back to medieval times) and then back out to Colney.

In all, we converted over 3 miles in about 1.5 hours. Not a bad stride out.

Click here to see the full route, which leads from Bowthorpe to Marston Marshes in Eaton (definitely a route we’ll try another day). We started and finished near Church Farm on the Watton Road.

Find out more about the Yare Valley Society.

Notes about this walk:

This is not a massively accessible walk, though it may be better on a summer’s day. The terrain was very uneven and very muddy the day we walked it. There are certainly parts of the Yare Valley Walk that are buggy- and wheelchair friendly, but you may want to investigate further before heading out.

As far as we’re aware, dogs can be taken on this walk.

3. Whitlingham Country Park, Norwich

Over Christmas and New Year, we returned to a place that we’ve often visited in the past, but hadn’t actually been to for some time: Whitlingham Country Park.

Just outside Norwich in Trowse, Whitlingham is easily accessed off the A47 or inner ring road. The park itself is free to use, but you must pay for parking. There are 3 car parks (at least) – managed by RCP and pay-and-display (they take cards and you can also pay via the RCP app). It does get busy at peak times, though it was fairly busy on the day we went and we still had no trouble parking.

Whitlingham Country Park is an amazing space just outside the city, offering walks, water-sports, and lots of opportunity to ‘spot’ stuff, from birds and wildlife to boats and trains. It’s a haven for runners, walkers, dog-walkers, cyclists, water-sports and outdoor enthusiasts.

After parking, we meandered around the large broad, which is about 2-2.5 miles in all. The terrain is generally flat, although can be muddy after lots of rain.

We finished our walk with scones from the Whitlingham Barn Café. Their scones – and their vegan sausage roll things – are INCREDIBLE. Our advice: if you’re not hungry at the time, buy some to take home for later.

View/download/print the Country park map here.

Notes about this walk:

There is an accessible path around the Great Broad (2.3 miles).
There are disabled-access toilets in the café.
There is disabled parking.

Dogs welcome, but must be kept on a lead in the conservation area.

So there you go – add these to your list of places to visit in 2022 – three ideas for Norfolk days out that are budget-friendly, full of fresh air and fun for (pretty much) all ages.

Check out these other ideas for days out in Norwich and places to visit in North Norfolk.