Welcome to a wonderful market town and foodie heaven
If you love to eat and drink, and shop, then Aylsham is your heaven. Recently named one of the best places to live in the UK, here are a few reasons why, and they’re all walkable.
St Michael’s Church, Aylsham.
Breakfast on pastries and coffee at the epic bakeries in the appealing and historic Market place, then go past the perfectly miniature cocktail and seafood bar (that’s for later) and pop into the chocolate and sweet shops on Red Lion Street to keep you going as you dip in and out of the shops.
The popular farmers’ market at Aylsham.
For lunch try pizzas with a stamp of authenticity or look for the deli-greengrocer’s shop on the way to the steam train station, with the wooden cart brimming with fresh produce, and choose treats for a picnic lunch. They grow a lot of their produce on a field nearby which is all you need to know. Even the local mini supermarket next door is Norfolk-owned and proud champion of local suppliers.
It’s time for tea? How about choosing between several vintage tearooms for cream teas or painting a plate while you scoff cake. Under a blue sky, the warm Norfolk clay roofs link the buildings, many of which are Grade I or II listed in this lovely town, once known for the quality of its woven cloth which was highly appreciated by medieval royals. The Romans thought it was a pretty perfect location too, as revealed by the regular digs at the local garden centre. For history buffs, the mini museum facing the peaceful church, is a must-visit.
The Bure Valley Railway runs between Aylsham and Hoveton in the Broads.
When the sky goes peachy at dusk, sip your cocktail made with Norfolk spirits or a bottle of local micro-brewery beer, before your evening meal calls from down the road. Book ahead for the private dining room and restaurants in Red Lion Street and around the Market Place, where the inn has hosted Daniel Defoe, Horatio Nelson and Queen Victoria as well as all the many others since about 1650. There’s a Cromwell-era ghost as well.
Finally sink into bed at the same inn or in the designer rooms in the old ironmongers and try to read a few pages from that great book you bought in the irresistible indie bookshop you can probably see from your window. The whole point is that this is a place where you can abandon your car on arrival. Head out into the country on foot or by bike along Weaver’s Way or any of the lanes you fancy.
The Parterre Garden at Blickling Estate.
Stop to explore the sumptuous house and gardens of National Trust’s Blickling Hall before heading into the lovely forests and fields on the estate. Maybe catch the steam train along the Bure Valley, criss-crossing the river all the way to the Broads if you like, or choose an early stop to get off and walk back, so you can work up an appetite for more delicious local eating. This is a Citteslow town after all, with regular market days offering even more choice local foods.
Visit Aylsham, for thrill of discovering great local food, and long to stay longer.