9 Ready to go picnics and where to scoff them
Summer's here & we ain't wasting any time in the kitchen thanks very much. Head out into the sun and grab yourself a ready made feast from Norfolk's finest delis, spread that picnic blanket and pop your corks.
The Town Beach – Cromer
Seaside town Cromer, famous for fresh-off-the-boat crabs, is one of the grooviest hangouts on Britain’s coolest coast.
Nab your spot on the Blue Flag beach and head up winding lanes of traditional fisherfolk cottages to score some seriously good grub.
Brand new West Street Deli, (on the same road as Muddy Awards finalist Roost) is the place for a big fat focaccia stuffed with roasted chicken and pesto, sweet slices of honey and banana loaf and piquant house special Molletes, Mexican beans in a hot pod with pico de gallo and mozzarella. Eaten for breakfast in Mexico. Who said picnics are for lunch anyway? Or how about Nash Falafel‘s deliciously dirty vegan sweet potato fries smothered in mango sriracha…yes please!
And, we’ll be drinking Margaritas by the sea Mamacita as joy of joys, The Gangway has a brand new cocktail menu with sea salty Jalapeño Margaritas you can take away. That’s it. We’re not flying anywhere ever again.
The Panoramic View – Blakeney
Beautiful Blakeney – one of a zillion Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty on the North Norfolk Coast has a loads of lovely picnic spots. As well as the epic beach, try Friary Hills, east of the village. It’s a resting point for birds migrating from the continent, so it’s a dog-free zone, family-friendly and with stunning panoramic views out over the Blakeney Freshes.
In town grab a big super fresh ciabatta packed with goodness – beef and salad, juicy chicken, tangy cheddar and a bag of yummy treats from the newly revamped Blakeney Delicatessen. To be honest I haven’t been in yet as they only reopened on 7 July but am already hearing excellent things so do pop in!
The Salt Marsh – Cley
Head out through the whispering reeds at Cley towards the shingle beach and picnic under the big Norfolk sky. Fill your tuck box at Picnic Fayre where everything is so good it’s almost impossible to choose.
There’s a fab range of cheeses, freshly baked bread (lavender is amazing!) and scrumptious chocolate brownies. Cley has a designated barbecue zone as do Cromer, Mundesley, Overstrand and Sheringham’s East and West Beaches so if you fancy rustling up something hot and fancy, pick your spot wisely.
The Countryside Idyll – Itteringham
Itteringham is delightful Norfolk village on the River Bure, near Blicking, which reveals its most enchanting riverside secrets on the Open Gardens day (postponed till the coast is clear). But even with private gardens off limits, there are lovely bridleways and footpaths through the dappled light of woods and fields, so you’re bound to find a secluded spot to make your own. This map will help.
There’s been an independent shop in this village since 1637 so when it was threatened with closure, an almighty local effort swung into action, attracting national and celebrity support.
Award-winning Itteringham Village Shop is now community-run and a magnet for all in the know. At the deli counter you’ll find rare breed pork pies, sausage rolls, samosas, Scotch eggs, meat pies, cheeses, hummus, ham and more. The shelves are stacked with daily essentials and locally produced goodness. Good hot coffee and tea too, in case it turns chilly. And wine. Phew! Everything you need for a good old country picnic.
Love it too much to leave? No frills family camping 5 mins walk from the shop at Broom Hill. Just (very clean) portaloos, one shower and a sink. You can BBQ and it’s only 20 mins drive from the coast. Pitches start at £20 night. Simple pleasures.
The Picnic Boat – Coltishall
Messing about on the Broads is a time-honoured way to dawdle through summer. Our Muddy Award winning Boutique Hotel – The Norfolk Mead Hotel hires their open top six-seater English Harbour Yacht so you can sail through stunning scenery, away from the Wroxham boating traffic. (Note no dogs allowed on board.) Moor at one of the many riverside pubs such as the Red Lion in Coltishall, or order a freshly prepared picnic hamper or cream tea and relax on deck. Book in advance to avoid disappointment – Half Day Hire £100.00/Full Day Hire £185.00 (life jackets available for kids).
Bookings are from April to September and essential to make in advance. Call here for details 01603 737 531.
The Stately Home – Blickling near Aylsham
Blickling Estate is loved by family picnickers, dog walkers, dreamers, gardeners and horrible little historians. With a breathtaking 4,600 acres taking in everything from neatly trimmed topiary to woods and wildflowers, you won’t have to worry about someone nicking your spot. And there are trails for pushchairs, adapted wheelchair-users and cyclists too.
Call Charlie at Hodson & Co Cheeseroom and Delicatessen in Aylsham and ask him to put a beautiful bespoke hamper together. It will be simple – freshly baked sausage rolls, sourdough loaves, fabulous local and regional cheeses, chutneys, pies, cheese tarts – and completely delicious. Pop in or call 01263 735980 and have a chat.
The Ruined Abbey – St Benet’s near Horning
St Benet’s Abbey is a splendidly isolated spot on the River Bure, with audio guides bringing history to life (mobile reception is patchy so download before you go). The Abbey’s still part of a working farm, so you might spot a few animals to delight mini Jeremy Clarksons. And dogs must be on the lead. There’s a car park but no loos. If you’re earning your picnic, Horning is a 30 min walk. And that’s where you should get your feast.
The Galley is a traditional deli, café and gift shop in a lovely 17th century building in the heart of Horning on the River Bure on the Norfolk Broads. Home to the home to the famous ‘Hornish’ pasty, they also also have a mouth-watering take-away menu from epic Grand Grazer buffet boxes serving 6-10 people (£70) or Family Size (serves 2-4) for £35. to simply delicious Deli Cheese Lunch Box for one (£7.95). There are sharing platters, mezze boards and a gorgeous range of freshly made quiches.
The Art Gallery – Earlham Park
Head to award-winning Amaretto Deli on George Street to assemble a dream holiday picnic. This place is a slow food heaven, chock full of the most delicious salamis, cheeses and olives from across the Mediterranean and from Norfolk too. Wherever possible produce comes from family-run, artisan businesses and is a true joy.
Now, bear with me, because Earlham Park is a 20 min cycle ride from central Norwich but totally worth the exercise. Earlham’s a couple of minutes walk from the Sainsbury Centre, a world-class art gallery and sculpture park. There are lovely sunsets and very pretty places to spread your picnic blanket along the River Yare. So make a day of it. We do.
The Village Green – Heydon
Picture perfect Heydon is one of the last remaining privately owned villages in Britain and summer Friday nights on the village green are a local institution thanks to Husk Woodfired Bakery‘s divine pizzas. Order early in the week – seriously, they sell like er…pizzas.
Take a blanket, cold prosecco and maybe a game (Kubb the lawn game is good) and chill. Or if you don’t mind a queue and occasionally eccentric service (who’s in a hurry anyway? It’s Friday night) get a round in at The Earle Arms. Cheers!