Looking for romantic days out ideas in Norfolk? We’ve got it covered. Whether it’s Valentine’s Day or not, there are always romantic things to do in Norfolk. Walk on our secret beaches, hire a Broads day boat, take a steam railway trip and much, much more…
Taking a hand-in-hand stroll along Lovers’ Lane in Ludham will put you in a romantic mood. From there it’s a stone’s throw to How Hill Nature Reserve, a microcosm of the Broads environment, with fens, rivers and woodland trails. Check out Toad Hall Cottage Museum and the How Hill Secret Garden.
Swans mate for life so are great symbols of romance. Head along to WWT Welney Wetland Centre and see if you replicate our photo here.
Little Walsingham is a great place to wander with your loved one, lots of higgledy-piggledy buildings and nooks and crannies. ‘England’s Nazareth’, home of the Shrine Of Our Lady, can be enjoyed year round but in February you’ll see the spectacular snowdrops carpeting grounds of the Abbey ruins.
How would your love like a piece of amber? If you love beachcombing, then try the east coast of Norfolk where you might discover a piece of amber on the shore. Look along the high-tide mark, particularly after a big storm. Amber is light and is easily loosened from submarine rock layers, so is often brought along by tides from the Baltic to be caught up in frondy seaweeds that sweep the seafloor. Now wouldn’t that be a lovely Valentine gift!
Or try California – named after the great 19th century Gold Rush, although it’s unlikely you’ll find any on the glorious beach here (above).
If you want to be alone with your loved one, try our secret beaches.
Sandringham may not sound like it would top the list of romantic places to visit, but read on… The Sandringham estate, the Royal Family’s private house and grounds in Norfolk, was bought by Queen Victoria for her son Albert on his 21st birthday, it is claimed to curb his amorous liaisons in London. It is also claimed that he simply installed them in houses around the estate. Scurrilous rumours, not to be believed.
Head to Holkham where the end of Shakespeare in Love was filmed – you know the bit, with Gwyneth Paltrow’s lovelorn Viola shipwrecked in Virginia and walking along a seemingly never-ending beach. The other reason to go is that in those tidal creeks and salt marshes and on the chalk reef off Cromer (yes, Norfolk has a reef!) you’ll find sumptuous crab, mussels, oysters and fish. We all know what happens if we eat oysters…
What’s more romantic than a journey on a heritage steam train. Take the Poppy Line North Norfolk Railway from coastal Sheringham to Georgian Holt and imagine you’re in Brief Encounter.
Hiring a day boat is a great way to get away for a spot of romantic seclusion. Many of the boats have great online facilities, including galleys (and a fridge for the fizz), but perhaps you’ll want to bring along a picnic. There are lots of great places to visit in the Broads or just gaze at the landscape, and appreciate that it actually came about as a result of inundated peat diggings. Yes, the Broads are man-made!
Take a romantic stroll in Thetford Forest, or hire a bike to explore some of the 20,000 hectares. You’ll be surprised to hear that the forest was only planted in 1922, whereas The New Forest in Hampshire dates back to the 11th century! It has its own unique microclimate and the Met Office has said it’s the warmest place in the UK!
Book yourself into a cosy north Norfolk pub with a roaring fire and in the evening head up to the heights of Kelling Heath, in our quiet lanes on the Cromer Ridge, and you’ll see amazing starscapes. Likewise at Happisburgh (above). Look out for a shooting star and make a wish…
Discover a brilliant sunset and declare your love in the last glowing of the day. You can see spectacular sunsets at Cromer and Hunstanton (have fish and chips on the prom while you watch!), and also at Burgh Castle, the old Roman fort near Great Yarmouth where you can gaze out over the Broads. Or if you’re more like larks, how about a romantic walk on the beach to watch the sunrise! Go to Snettisham and you can enjoy the sight of tens of thousands of geese and waders.
Be flaneurs for a day and take a gentle walk around Norwich, with over 1500 historic buildings within the city walls. The city has 33 medieval churches, more than any other city in northern Europe, and Elm Hill is a complete historical cobbled street with stunning examples of Tudor buildings and wealthy merchants’ houses. Don’t miss our Norman cathedral and its precincts, one of the finest examples of Romanesque architecture in Europe. There are lots of local restaurants for a romantic liaison – Roger Hickman’s on Upper St Giles Street has been chosen by Holiday Lettings as ‘one of the 10 most romantic restaurants in the country’.
Head to the Museum of Norwich at Bridewell to see their collection of Valentine’s cards – they were invented here in Norfolk. Yes, really!
And look, we even put kisses on our road signs!
Which leads us nicely to…
Norfolk is the home of Valentine!
The earliest known Valentine ever was sent in Norfolk in 1477, in a letter from Margery Brews to John Paston, who she described as ‘my right well beloved Valentine’. It was over 350 years later that printed Valentine cards began to appear, assisted with the improvement in postal services and printing methods.
By the 1830s, Valentines were sent in such great numbers that postmen were given a special allowance for refreshments to help them through the extraordinary exertions of the two or three days leading up to February 14th.
In Victorian Norfolk more money was spent on Valentines than Christmas! Norwich had its own special celebrations on St Valentine’s Eve. People gave each other presents, shops took on extra staff, and shop windows were crammed with gifts.
The best-known surviving Norfolk ritual is Jack Valentine, who enigmatically disappears into thin air after knocking at the door and dropping off gifts on St Valentine’s Eve (Feb 13) with the greeting ‘Good Morrow, Valentine’. It’s unclear when this mystery figure first emerged but children are as likely as adults to receive a visit from Jack. In fact, he might be called the patron saint of Norfolk, the county where love spreads to all.
In the 1800s, Norfolk children would set out before dawn to sing rhymes in exchange for sweets, cakes and pennies. One favourite local verse was:
Good morrow, Valentine,
God bless the baker,
You’ll be the giver,
And I’ll be the taker.