For a vintage day out in Norfolk full of charm and wonder, costing £15 per head, then look no further.
I think I was a train spotter in a past life. Take me on a train and I’m like a bouncing puppy. Don’t know why. But train journeys, especially steam trains, fill me with absolute joy. As do bike rides. (And fish and chips – opened, not wrapped.) Combine these winning ingredients, along with – a stroll around the Blickling Hall Estate lake, feeding swans on the banks of the Broads and allowing for some browsing time in two of Norfolk’s best second-hand book shops – then, you have yourself the ultimate vintage day out in Norfolk.
We did this trip to celebrate my birthday recently; it makes a really fun romantic date but would work just as well with a group of friends, as an ‘alternative’ hen or stag do or a family-day out.
Vintage Adventure Itinerary:
- Cycle from Norwich to Wroxham (7 miles)
- Wroxham: fish & chips on the banks of the Norfolk Broads
- Catch the Bure Valley Railway (steam train) from Wroxham to Alysham
- Stow cycles in the back of the train for an extra £3.50 each
- Cycle from Aylsham to Blickling Hall Estate (1.5 miles)
- Walk around the lake and check out the second-hand book shop
- Cycle back home – stopping off at a pub en-route for a break (14 miles)
We left the house around 10am and retuned home at 6pm. Alternatively, if the 22-mile cycle sounds daunting, then here are some alternative routes:
A) No cycles for me!
Public Transport, Steam Train & Walking Route
Using the mainline train service from Norwich, buy a single ticket from Norwich to Wroxham. Then, after a pit-stop in Wroxham for fish and chips, take the Bure Valley Railway and purchase a single from Wroxham to Aylsham. After the steam ride, walk from Aylsham town centre to Blickling Hall (3 mile round-trip – there’s a foot path for most of the way). Or skip Blickling and mooch around the market town of Aylsham instead. Catch a bus from Aylsham back to Norwich.
B) I’m watching my ha’pennies
Car & Cycles: Cheapest Route (18 miles of cycling)
Drive to Wroxham. Hire cycles (or take your own on a roof-rack) and bike along the cycle path, which runs parallel to the steam train line. This is approximately an 18-mile round-trip).
C) I want it all, without the ‘John Wayne walk’ the day after
Train & steam Train (3 miles of cycling)
Using the mainline train service from Norwich, buy a return ticket from Norwich to Wroxham. Once in Wroxham, buy a return from the Bure Valley Railway (steam train) from Wroxham to Aylsham. Walk to and from Blickling Hall (or skip this part) and when you’re ready take the steam train back to Wroxham (and then the mainline service from Wroxham to Norwich).
Second-hand books shops: Two of the best-stocked second-hand book collections in Norfolk can be found on this day trip. 1) Actually located within Wroxham Bure Valley Station, there is a fantastic collection. Most books cost £1 each unless stated otherwise 2) An emporium of vintage and used books can be found at the Blickling Hall Estate (to the right-hand side of the main building)
Back roads: If opting to follow our original route, on your outward cycling journey, avoid the Wroxham Road and North Walsham Road and take the back roads where possible – there is a lovely cut through down Beeston Lane.
Stop offs: The leisurely cycle out to Wroxham took about an hour and a half, with a few stops on the way. We encountered Horstead Mill, Horstead playground (lots of fun, even for big kids like us)
Aylsham: The town hosts farmers’ markets on the first and third Saturdays of the month, and a Monday market coinciding with the popular Keys auctioneers’ sale – a must for any vintage fanatics
Cycle Hire: We took our own cycles, but if you’re visiting from outside of Norfolk, you can hire some in Wroxham.
Bure Valley: Catch the train from Wroxham’s Bure Valley Railway (the station is located opposite the mainline station). Two singles from Wroxham to Aylsham including cycle transportation cost £23. This was the main expense of the day.
Fish and Chips: We like Ken’s Fish and Chips in Wroxham (located by the bridge). You can then walk to grassy banks and eat your chips watching the swans on the river. We were super-thrifty and bought cans of Pimm’s from the newsagent’s. Alternatively, there are several river-fronted pubs which don’t mind you drinking by the river with your fish and chips.
Boat hire: if you’re feeling especially energetic, include a boat trip on the broads as part of your day. Either self-hire or chauffeured.
Bure Valley Railway: www.bvrw.co.uk
Cycle Hire: www.norfolkbroadscycling.co.uk
Blickling Hall: http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/blickling-estate
Mainline trains. www.thetrainline.com
Norfolk Buses: www.firstgroup.com
Wroxham Boat Hire: www.barnesbrinkcraft.co.uk
Norfolk Tourist Info: www.visitnorfolk.co.uk