Venture out into the countryside for invigorating cold-weather walks and soak up the beauty of crisp landscapes, cool air, and glowing sunsets at Norfolk’s National Trust venues.
Meander along frosty paths in historic gardens, jump over puddles in parklands, or blow away the cobwebs with a stroll by the coast and watch the waves crashing on the beach against a backdrop of dramatic grey skies.
Winter is the best time of year to notice nature and wildlife around you on your walk. Look for pawprints in mud and snow, listen for crisp notes of bird song and spot woodland residents foraging in the silhouettes of bare trees.
Why not warm up after your winter adventure in a National Trust café or tearoom? Thaw out with a hot drink, shrug off the cold with a hearty soup or simply enjoy a well-earned sweet treat.
Blakeney National Nature Reserve
At the heart of the Norfolk Coast Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, Blakeney National Nature Reserve boasts wide open spaces and uninterrupted views of the beautiful North Norfolk coastline. The four-mile-long shingle spit off Blakeney Point offers protection for Blakeney Harbour and the surrounding saltmarshes, providing a perfect habitat for the vast array of residential and migratory wildlife, including England’s largest colony of grey seals.
During seal pupping season, up until mid-January, you can walk up to the perimeter of the seal colony, but not beyond. Not suitable for dogs at this time of year. To see more of the grey seal colony, a boat trip from Morston Quay is recommended.
The family friendly Blakeney Freshes coastal walk is another popular walking route in winter. Following a 3-mile route, this trail is ideal for spotting wildlife and birdwatching. Dogs are welcome on short leads.
Blickling’s breathtaking Jacobean mansion and ancient yew hedges sit at the heart of a magnificent garden and historic park in the beautiful Bure meadows. The lake walk at Blickling is particularly atmospheric on a frosty winter’s morning, with the reflections and big open Norfolk skies providing plenty of opportunities for budding photographers.
For birdwatchers, barn owls are regularly spotted hunting across the park and groups of tits and finches can be found in the trees and undergrowth. The multi-use trail, which goes around the perimeter of the park and through the Great Wood, is accessible for people with buggies and young children, as well as those using wheelchairs and mobility aids.
Dogs are welcome under close control in park and in the Muddy Boots Café. Mobility scooters and Mountain Trike Push all terrain wheelchairs are available to hire.
Felbrigg Hall, Gardens and Estate
One of the most elegant 17th century country houses in East Anglia, Felbrigg Estate comprises 520 acres of woods, with rolling parkland, a lake and waymarked paths. One of the most popular winter walks is the church and ice house walk. This easy 2.6 mile circular walk passes historic buildings dating back to the 1700s, notable trees including the Great Felbrigg Sessile Oak, a hidden lake and the ‘Victory V’ avenue of beech trees.Dogs on leads are welcome on the wider e state and in the Squire’s Pantry Tearoom.
Horsey Windpump is an ideal base from which to explore this beautiful corner of the Norfolk Broads on foot. Start your walk with a warming cuppa from the Tearoom, pick up a local map from the Visitor Information hut, before heading out to explore the winter wildlife. There are three circular walks to choose from, ranging from 3 to 4.5 miles. Two of these routes take in the nearby beach, where you can expect to see large numbers of grey seals from the vantage point of the sand dunes. Dogs are allowed but must be kept under close control at this point of the walk. As you loop around Horsey village, keep an eye out for grazing deer.
Oxburgh Estate is nestled on the edge of the Norfolk Brecks, where the land meets the wide-open Fenlands. As you wander beyond the garden, you’ll soon be out into the wider parkland and woods, where you can enjoy views back towards the moated hall. The winter landscape is simply beautiful.
If you are looking for a longer adventure, the Oxborough to Gooderstone heritage walk is a gentle, 3.5-mile dog friendly trail, which takes in some of Breckland’s protected farmland and heritage. The route allows you to explore the pretty village of Oxborough, passing through Gooderstone with its Water Gardens and medieval church. Don’t forget to look out for the remains of Chalkrow Tower Mill too.
A warm welcome awaits you back at the Servants Hall Tearoom at Oxburgh, where our winter seasonal menu will still be in full swing.
Wander through Sheringham Park and you’ll discover why it became the personal favourite of its designer, Humphry Repton. Take the dog friendly two-mile Repton’s walk, and stroll through the landscaped parkland, taking in impressive sea views as well as country vistas. Relax a while in the newly refurbished Ling Hut; continue on until reaching the temple, designed by Repton but not built until over 160 years later.