There are around 550 square miles of West Norfolk and every single one of them has something to surprise, inspire and delight, with stunning nature reserves, Fens waterlands, glorious sandy beaches, the seaside resort of Hunstanton, maritime history of King’s Lynn, and country homes including Sandringham, the Queen’s rural retreat
King’s Lynn and nature reserves with amazing wildlife watching
The historic medieval port of King’s Lynn has a wealth of stunning buildings, heritage museums and attractions. On Purfleet Quay is the splendid 1683 Custom House, described by Pevsner as ‘one of the most perfect buildings ever built’, and now the tourist office.
It has the largest and best-preserved medieval guildhall in England, which has been used as a theatre since 1442 making it the oldest theatre in the UK. It has the largest chapel in England, and the finest medieval merchant’s house in England – all within a few minutes’ walk from the town centre and the station which has direct regular trains to King’s Cross.
Just outside King’s Lynn is magnificent Norman Castle Rising, one of the largest and best-preserved keeps in the country, atop huge earthworks. Not far away is Castle Acre, not a castle at all, but extensive ruins of a Norman priory.
One of the most popular visitor attractions in West Norfolk is Sandringham – the house and gardens are open from April to October with the estate grounds and visitor centre open throughout the year. A few miles away is Houghton Hall, built by Great Britain’s first Prime Minister, Sir Robert Walpole.
West Norfolk borders the Wash, the UK’s most important estuary for wild birds and a site of international significance. The sheltered mudflats here provide a vast feeding ground for thousands of water birds from as far away as Greenland and Siberia.
The natural coastal landscape is an ideal habitat for many species of wintering wildfowl, summer breeding birds and migrants.
There are numerous nature reserves in the area including RSPB Snettisham and WWT Welney Wetland Centre on the Ouse Washes, home to thousands of wildfowl such as swans, wigeon and pochard who descend on the reserve during the winter months. In summer there are guided walks of this rich Fens area.