Settle Norfolk: A Piece of Reclaimed Heaven – A Stay in a Railway Carriage

Dictionary definition for Settle:

Become or make calmer or quieter. Synonyms: calm down, quieten down, be quiet, be still, relax.

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I’ve just returned from two nights in the most beautiful setting in South Norfolk and I had to share the details with you right away.

On the edge of Breckland Forest in the sleepy village of Shropham, surrounded by 30-acres of parkland and nestled one-mile down a winding track, you’ll find Settle.

Settle is the name given to two stunning reclaimed railway carriages originally built for moving rapidly over tracks, now in retirement, they offer the complete opposite – solitude and calm.

The owners of the land have worked extremely hard to convert these vintage railway carriages into the most breathtakingly beautiful holiday pads surrounded by a stunning lake and peaceful countryside.

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As you’ll see from the pictures, no expense has been spared and every attention has been given to the detail. As soon as I arrived, I literally just stood in the carriage with a dropped jaw, pinched myself several times and just stared. In fact, I stared and stared and stared until I almost passed out. We were also very lucky in that our stay was timed with the surprisingly hot temperatures over Easter.

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I couldn’t help but sense the sheer amount of energy that has created such an alchemy – transforming what was once something derelict and abandoned into a piece of reclaimed heaven.

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We stayed in Carriage 2, which in my opinion, has the prettiest setting and the best views – and a larger kitchen and living area – though Carriage 1 does house a king-sized bed. We’d heard rumours that the owners have plans to extend the site and during our evening stroll we did spot signs of a third.

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Each carriage has it’s own drive way and as you’ll see from the below, even the back entrance of carriage 2 is stunning; with reclaimed bench, firewood piles and a welcoming rustic appeal.

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The kitchen is Scandinavian lodge chic and literally has every thing you could hope for! There is a fridge-freezer big enough to hold food for four or five days, if not more.

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There’s also a gas oven with two hobs, a beautiful ceramic Belfast sink with reclaimed draining rack and stunning utensils, coffee maker and crockery. Everything is proved, including eco-friendly washing-up products.

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The breakfast basket contained: Fresh sourdough bread from Wooster’s Bakery in Bury St Edmunds, which was wrapped in a large cotton cloth and tied with string; fresh coffee from Norwich-based Koffra, organic porridge oats, raw fresh butter from Bungay and raw milk from Coston Hall Dairy. I’d brought almonds and fresh strawberries with me, so porridge the next morning couldn’t have been tastier.

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The carriage’s back doors spilled open onto a large wooden terrace and views of the lake. Though technically, I think it’s an extremely large pond but I’m rebranding it as a lake because pond just doesn’t do it justice.

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The only sounds during our stay was that of wild geese and other waterfowl.

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Off the kitchen is a beautiful bathroom, with shower, Victorian wooden toilet and laundered towels in charcoal greys and sandy gravel. There are home made soaps provided at the kitchen sink and bathroom toilet, and fresh flowers everywhere in the carriage. Well, it is spring.

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An actual train door off the kitchen takes you to the double bed and living area, which has a wood burner and a generous supply of wood. Not that we needed it. We did make the mistake of lighting the fire in the evening, of a very hot weekend indeed.

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The wooden terrace at the back has a beautiful table and chairs for al fresco dining and two further chairs by the outdoor wood burner. In short, it’s heaven here.

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Matthew joined me for the first night but I had the luxury of this place to myself for the rest of the time and I was literally beside myself with excitement. I even managed to write two new poems, and read, I actually read books!

It was one of the loveliest, calmest and most charming places I’ve stayed, and I’ve stayed at a fair few far-flung beautiful spots in the world. It also helped being a 35-minute drive from where I live. You can’t beat a staycation, right? There was no stress, traffic, queues, nothing, it felt so simple yet it’s not an area I visit often so it felt different enough.

This is one of Norfolk’s best-kept secrets. Absolutely delighted they have opened their doors and I have no doubt they will make a huge success of it.

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At the time of writing (April) to stay in Carriage 2 it cost £240 for two nights in this beautiful piece of reclaimed heaven. There’s more about Carriage 2 on Airbnb and Carriage 1.

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