Bird Watching in Norfolk

Bird Watching in Norfolk

 

Often described as the bird-watching capital of Britain, Norfolk is home to hundreds of bird species – both full-time residents and regular migrants. Comprising a long coastline, extensive woodland and farmland, and massive areas of inland freshwater, Norfolk provides an incredible variety of natural habitat, which supports a wide range of animal and plant life.

 

Norfolk Wildlife Trust (NWT) owns no fewer than 33 nature reserves, and many of these are within a reasonable distance of Happisburgh and Boundary Stables. Situated in the heart of the beautiful Norfolk countryside, Barn Owl, Fieldfare, Goldfinch, Kestrel, and Wren (known collectively as Boundary Stables) are wheelchair accessible, with many facilities for visitors with limited mobility. We welcome dogs and other pets at no extra charge – but please note that when visiting a Norfolk Wildlife Trust reserve, the NWT’s No Dogs policy means that dogs are restricted to certain areas and footpaths.

 

Cley Marshes (NR25 7SA), Norfolk’s oldest and probably best-known nature reserve, supports large numbers of migrating waders and wildfowl; consisting of grazing marsh, saline lagoons, shingle beach, and reedbeds, the reserve is well tended to ensure ideal conditions for the birds. Thorpe Marshes (NR7 0QA), one of the Trust’s newest and more urban reserves, borders the River Yare, on the outskirts of Norwich. At Cockshoot Broad (NR13 6HN), just 17 miles from Happisburgh, there’s a good chance of spotting a kingfisher; and for sightings of birds of prey, such as the tawny owl, kestrel, and sparrowhawk, why not visit the ancient and beautiful Foxley Wood (NR20 4QR).

 

Two of Norfolk’s three major RSBP nature reserves – RSBP Snettisham (PE31 7RA) and RSPB Titchwell Marsh (PE31 8BB) – are located in the west of the county; but RSPB Strumpshaw Fen (NR13 4HS) is only about 20 miles from Happisburgh. Part of the Mid Yare Nature Reserve, RSPB Strumpshaw Fen offers three walking trails of varying lengths, with hides along the way. There are also plenty of benches, where you can rest and take in the beauty of the countryside.

 

It’s lovely to see birds in the wild. However, within walking distance of Boundary Stables, there’s a fantastic opportunity for bird lovers to get close to some wonderful domesticated owls. Happisburgh Owls (Lighthouse Lane, Happisburgh, NR12 0QA) is owned and run by Sandra Dalzell, an experienced handler and breeder of owls.

 

With a Certificate of Excellence, Happisburgh Owls is currently East Anglia’s top attraction on TripAdvisor – just have a look at the reviews! The owls, who have all been hand-raised by Sandra, are very tame and used to being handled. When it comes to owls, Sandra and her staff are among the most knowledgeable people you could meet, and they’ll tell you lots about these 16 individuals and about the nine species they belong to. And, of course, you’ll learn a lot from the owls themselves.

 

To book a private viewing, telephone Sandra on 01692 651 501, or email happisburghowls1@gmail.com. “I never double book,” says Sandra. “Your experience is exclusive to you and your guests.”

 

To find out more about Boundary Stables, give us a call on 07786 837 187, or email info@boundarystables.co.uk

 

Self catering near the seaside

Our cluster of cosy one-storey holiday cottages, known collectively as Boundary Stables, is located in the tiny village of Happiburgh. Barn Owl, Fieldfare, Goldfinch, Kestrel, and Wren, tucked away in the heart of the beautiful Norfolk countryside, are ideal for those who enjoy the open, unspoiled Norfolk countryside. But tranquil as this corner of Norfolk may be, you’re never very far away from the hustle and bustle of market towns and popular seaside resorts.

 

A little over twenty miles away from Happisburgh is one of the UK’s favourite traditional seaside holiday resorts, Great Yarmouth. This busy port, in the south of Norfolk, is ideal for a family day out – although if you’re hoping to experience everything Great Yarmouth has to offer, you’d be advised to set aside at least two days! There’s not a lot of sophistication to be found in Great Yarmouth, but there’s an awful lot of fun!

 

Have some family fun at the 10-lane, child-friendly bowling alley on Wellington Pier (Marine Parade, Great Yarmouth, NR30 3JF). After a pleasant / competitive / tearful / angry / fraught / moody / argumentative / ungracious (tick one of the above) game, you can retire to the pier’s Ocean View Café for refreshments and a lengthy discussion about the bowling. If bowling is not for you, other amusements on Wellington Pier include air hockey, video games, and American pool.

 

Quasar (31 Marine Parade, Great Yarmouth, NR30 2EN) is the UK’s biggest laser tag arena. Open every day from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., with a new game beginning every 30 minutes, you never have to wait for long – you just join in the next game. Quasar welcomes players of all ages, so this is another fun-filled activity for the whole family.

 

Hollywood Adventure Golf (Devonshire Road, Great Yarmouth, NR30 3AD) is a huge 12-hole indoor crazy golf experience with a cinema theme. It’s open from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. every Saturday and Sunday, and in school holidays and Bank holidays.

 

Sea Life (Marine Parade, Great Yarmouth, NR30 3AH) has to be seen to be believed. With the exception of Christmas Day and Boxing Day, Sea Life is open every day from 10 a.m., offering a glimpse of a world most of us could never imagine. The Sea Life experience is a joy and an education for the whole family.

 

Moving from natural history to prehistory, why not pay a visit to Jurassic Journey (Tower Complex, Marine Parade, Great Yarmouth, NR30 2EW). You can touch real fossilised dinosaur bones and fossilised dinosaur poo. Lifelike models of extinct species such as T-Rex and Stegosaurus move, breathe, and roar right in front of you! On second thoughts … do you dare visit Jurassic Journey?

 

There’s lots to do in Norfolk this spring. For last-minute bookings at Boundary Stables, phone us on 07786 837 187 or email info@boundarystables.co.uk.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Holiday at Boundary Stables

A Holiday at Boundary Stables

 

 

With full disabled access, off-road parking, free Wi-Fi, and unrestricted use of a luxury sauna, Boundary Stables cottages, in the coastal village of Happisburgh, are perfect for a relaxing break in the beautiful Norfolk countryside. Barn Owl, Fieldfare, Goldfinch, Kestrel, and Wren are self-contained, one-storey holiday cottages, each with its own enclosed courtyard, gas barbecue, and well-equipped kitchen. We, the owners, live just across the road, and are there to welcome you and to deal with any problems during your stay. (REVIEW: “You couldn’t ask for better hosts.”)

 

Dogs are very welcome at Boundary Stables, and the surrounding area is a haven for dog walkers, with plenty of off-road footpaths through farmland and ancient woodland. Well-beaten footpaths and bridleways take you for miles along the picturesque Norfolk coast, and a long, peaceful stretch of beach, with unrestricted access for dogs, is just a few minutes’ walk from the cottages. Dogs (and children) can let off steam in the shared paddock, and the private courtyard that comes with each cottage is a safe place for dogs (and children!) to spend time outside, where you can keep an eye on them. (REVIEW: “A real doggy paradise”)

 

Each of our cottages is comfortably furnished, and well-equipped with home comforts, including colour TV, DVD player, radio/CD player, washing machine, and microwave. Goldfinch and Fieldfare also contain a dishwasher. Bed linen, towels, and all fuel/power are included in the rent, and cots and highchairs are available for very young children. (REVIEW: “The cottage was well presented and had the most equipment we have ever had.”)

 

Despite the home-from-home kitchen, you will probably want to eat out during your stay at Boundary Stables, and we are always pleased to recommend local cafés, pubs, and restaurants, such as The Hill House Inn (Happisburgh), Smallsticks Café (Cart Gap beach), Poppylands (Horsey), Kingfisher Fish Bar and The Lighthouse Inn (Walcott), The Star Inn (Lessingham), and Poppylands (Horsey).

 

In good weather, there’s nothing quite like cooking and eating outdoors. Each cottage has its own gas barbecue and outside furniture, so you can enjoy the peace and quiet of an evening barbecue in your private courtyard, or perhaps a daytime picnic in the shared paddock, where dogs and children can run around to their hearts’ content.

 

A comprehensive Visitor Information Book in your cottage lists many lovely places to visit, including some of Norfolk’s nature reserves and stately homes. You will also find information about local health centres, dental surgeries, veterinary surgeries, pharmacies, supermarkets, and post offices. However, if you require more information, or if you have any queries, we’re only too pleased to help; we’re just over the road – or a phone call away.

 

REVIEW: “If we could go anywhere in the world, we’d still choose to come here.”

 

Snowdrops near Boundary Stables

Snowdrops near Boundary Stables

 

The five one-storey holiday cottages that make up Boundary Stables are nestled in the heart of Happisburgh – a quiet, unspoilt village in the beautiful Norfolk countryside, looking out onto the magnificent North Sea. Norfolk wildlife is diverse and plentiful, changing with the seasons. As we come to the end of the grey seal’s breeding season, it’s time to enjoy the sweet harbinger of spring: the snowdrop.

 

The snowdrop – Galanthus, from Greek gála (‘milk’) and ánthos (‘flower’) – blooms before the vernal equinox, and the appearance of this dainty little white flower, drooping on its slender stem, inspires a universal celebration of the coming of spring. In Norfolk, you can see clusters of snowdrops by the roadside, in gardens, and in woodland. But there are certain places where conditions are conducive to an explosion of this well-loved plant.

 

Walsingham Abbey (NR22 6BP) is a lovely place to visit at any time of the year; but in February, when snowdrops are carpeting the 18 acres of woodland, it’s extra beautiful. From Saturday January 27th until Sunday March 4th, Walsingham Abbey, which is 32 miles from Happisburgh, is open every day for ‘snowdrop walks’. Dogs are welcome, as long as they are on leads, and some of the pathways are accessible to wheelchairs.

 

Blickling Estate (NR11 6NF), owned by the National Trust, is just 15 miles from Happisburgh. With its stately home, three cafés, beautiful gardens, and acres of woodland and parkland to explore, Blickling Estate is one of the region’s most popular attractions. In February, the Blickling woodland, carpeted in snowdrops, is a truly wonderful sight. Here, too, dogs are welcome.

 

St Margaret’s Church (NR11 8UA), in Thorpe Market, near Cromer, is well known for the abundance of snowdrops in its churchyard. Although the churchyard is open to visitors every day, St Margaret’s has a tradition of hosting ‘snowdrop Sundays’. On all four Sundays in February (4th, 11th, 18th, 25th), you can see the snowdrops in the churchyard, and enjoy hot drinks and home-made cakes in the church, where there is also a plant sale. Thorpe Market is 12 miles from Happisburgh.

 

Since 1927, the National Garden Scheme has been raising funds for charity by opening gardens in England and Wales. This year, the Scheme’s third National Snowdrop Festival is being celebrated in Norfolk at the following venues, from 11.00 a.m. to 4.00 p.m.

  1. Horstead House (NR12 7AU) on Saturday February 17th
  2. Bagthorpe Hall (PE31 6QY) on Sunday February 25th
  3. Chestnut Farm (NR25 6NX) on Sunday February 25th and on Sunday March 4th
  4. Raveningham Hall (NR14 6NS) on Sunday March 11th

 

There is an abundance of woodland in Norfolk. Foxley Wood (NR20 4QR), cared for by the Norfolk Wildlife Trust, is the largest ancient woodland in Norfolk, 30 miles from Happisburgh. Lower Wood, Ashwellthorpe (NR16 1HB) is an area of ancient woodland, also about 30 miles from Happisburgh. Bacton Woods, near North Walsham, is just a few miles from Happisburgh; and Sheringham Park (NR26 8TL) is 20 miles away.

 

All this lovely woodland will, in a couple of months, be full of bluebells. But for now, the little snowdrop is the star of the show!

 

Boundary Stables in Nelson’s County

Boundary Stables in Nelson’s County

 

 

Boundary Stables, in the little seaside village of Happisburgh, is a cluster of one-storey, dog-friendly holiday cottages, with private courtyards and facilities for guests with limited mobility. Whether your holiday is about peace and quiet, outdoor activity, or an exploration of towns and villages, you might be interested in a few significant Norfolk personalities from history.

 

There have been so many noteworthy people born in Norfolk – for example, Sir James Paget (1814-1899), the surgeon who identified, and gave his name to, Paget’s disease. Paget was born in Great Yarmouth, and the James Paget Hospital, in nearby Gorleston, is named after him. Edith Cavell (1865-1915), a nurse from Swardeston, is celebrated for her courageous acts of humanity during WWI, which resulted in her execution; a primary school in Norwich is named in her honour.

 

Charles Townsend (1674-1738), 2nd Viscount Townsend, was an English politician, who served as Secretary of State for the Northern Department, which later became the Home Office. He began and ended his life at Raynham Hall, near Fakenham. Despite his many years of service to the government, under the leadership of his brother-in-law, Sir Robert Walpole, ‘Turnip Townsend’, as he became known, is perhaps best remembered for his contribution to agricultural development, through his promotion of the Norfolk four-course crop rotation system.

 

Raynham Hall, near Fakenham, about 38 miles from Happisburgh, is now owned by Charles George Townsend, 8th Marquess Townsend. Arrangements for visits to this lovely stately home can be made by emailing townsend@raynham.org or by telephoning 01328 862 133.

 

Turnip Townsend’s second wife, Dorothy, was the sister of Sir Robert Walpole (1676-1745), 1st Earl of Orford, who held the position of First Lord of the Treasury from 1721 to 1742, and is considered to be the first de facto Prime Minister of Great Britain. Sir Walpole, who was born in Houghton, near King’s Lynn, was the first great leader of the Whigs, a political party that supported a constitutional monarchy – where the powers of a sovereign must be exercised within the parameters of an established legal framework – in contrast to the dictatorship of an absolute monarchy.

 

Investment in the successful South Sea Company made Sir Walpole a very wealthy man, allowing him to build his mansion, Houghton Hall, which is now owned by a descendant of Sir Walpole, the 7th Marquess of Cholmondeley. In 1955, an old library book was discovered at Houghton Hall, borrowed by Robert Walpole’s father, Colonel Robert Walpole, in 1667; it was 288 years overdue!

 

Mary Anne Suckling, daughter of Walpole’s sister, Mary Turner, was the grandmother of Norfolk’s most famous son, Admiral Horatio Nelson. Mary Anne’s daughter, Catherine, was Horatio’s mother, and her son, Captain Maurice Suckling, was responsible for his nephew’s early nautical training. The baby Horatio was named after Horatio Walpole, who was the son of Robert Walpole’s younger brother, also named Horatio.

 

Nelson (1758-1805) was born in Burnham Thorpe, and was educated at Paston Grammar School, North Walsham, and at King Edward VI’s Grammar School in Norwich. When King George III received the news that Nelson had been killed at the Battle of Trafalgar, in which Britain was victorious, the king said, “We have lost more than we have gained.”

Winter Wildlife in Norfolk

Winter Wildlife in Norfolk

 

If you love wildlife, Norfolk is the ideal location for a winter break. Boundary Stables – a group of five one-storey cottages with wheelchair facilities – is situated in the tiny village of Happisburgh, on the beautiful Norfolk coast. Each warm, well-equipped cottage has a private courtyard, ideal for pets, and ample parking space.

 

During the winter months, a daytime sighting of a silent, low-flying barn owl is not unusual. Forced to hunt during the day, when voles and mice are taking advantage of a slight rise in temperature, and are foraging for their own food, this basically nocturnal bird can often be spotted sitting on fence posts and trees, listening for its prey. This is the only energy-efficient method of hunting in cold weather, when a long period of flying could very well result in no catch at all. Historically, winter was a time when barn owls hunted in the warmth of farm buildings, where rodents were also seeking shelter. However, recent changes in farming practices, particularly feed storage and rodent control, mean that barn life is now not such an easy option.

 

Norfolk names for the barn owl (Tyto alba, meaning “white owl”) include hushwing and billy wix – rather pleasant names, compared to certain other monikers, such as ghost owl, demon owl, death owl, hissing owl, screech owl, and hobgoblin!

 

Each year, approximately a quarter of the world’s population of pink-footed geese (Anser brachyrhynchus, meaning “short-billed goose”) spend the winter in Norfolk. Roosting in large groups on remote parts of the coast, these extremely noisy birds fly inland at dawn, en masse, to feed; at dusk, they fly back to their coastal lodgings, filling the air with their honking cries.

 

For sightings of barn owls, pink-footed geese, and many other bird species, why not visit RSPB Strumpshaw Fen (24 miles from Happisburgh); or Salthouse Marshes (28 miles from Happisburgh), on the north Norfolk coast, cared for by Norfolk Wildlife Trust (NWT). Hickling Broad is another NWT reserve where a wide variety of winter wildlife flourishes, and is just nine miles from Boundary Stables. All of these reserves are open from dawn to dusk, all year long.

 

For the grey seal (Halichoerus grypus, meaning “hooked-nose sea pig”), winter is the busiest time of the year. Between November and January, heavily pregnant cows haul out onto the beach, ready to give birth. The new-born pups weigh around 14kg and are covered in soft white fur.

 

The UK is home to around half of the world’s grey seal population, and in Norfolk, there are some fantastic opportunities to observe these lovely animals in the wild. Horsey, home to a large colony of grey seals, is less than nine miles from Happisburgh. At Blakeney Point, home to the largest seal colony in England, more than 2,000 grey seal pups are born each winter. Daily boat trips from the village of Blakeney, about 28 miles from Boundary Stables, enable you to view the seals close-up, without invading their territory.

 

A holiday at Boundary Stables doesn’t have to be full of exertion and outdoor activity. Norfolk is as rich in history and entertainment as it is in animal wildlife.

A winter day trip to Sheringham from Boundary Stables

A winter day trip to Sheringham from Boundary Stables

 

A holiday at Boundary Stables, in Happisburgh, is as lovely in the winter months as during the height of summer. Even in cold, wet, windy December, our five one-storey cottages are warm and cosy, and easily accessible from the parking area just outside the door. Smooth, level access and wide doorways are wheelchair friendly, and dogs can let off steam in your private, enclosed courtyard, while you keep an eye on them through the patio doors.

 

On the north Norfolk coast, just over twenty miles from Happisburgh, is the popular seaside resort of Sheringham. This busy little town is the home of 21 cafés and restaurants, five pubs, a theatre, two museums, two railway stations, a tourist information bureau, and many intriguing shops. The sandy beach, which gets thoroughly ‘washed’ twice a day by the tide, is one of the cleanest beaches in Norfolk.

 

On many of the walls along Sheringham’s promenade, there are large, lively paintings by local artists, Colin Seal and David Barber. Images of seafaring trades, such as boat building, net mending, sail making, gansey knitting, and fishing can be seen on Lifeboat Plain; outside Sheringham’s museum (The Mo, closed in winter, unfortunately), there are life-sized figures, copied from old Sheringham photographs; and a 100-foot-long ‘mammoth mural’, inspired by the famous West Runton Elephant, is an imaginative depiction of stone-age life.

 

Over the Christmas period, the cosy 180-seat Sheringham Little Theatre is filled with local residents and winter visitors for daily performances of the annual professional pantomime – this year, The Wizard of Oz, beginning Saturday December 9th. Situated in the heart of Sheringham, the Little Theatre plays a major role in the local community, with a packed programme of live shows, popular feature films, and art exhibitions. Tickets can be purchased from the Sheringham Little Theatre website (http://sheringhamlittletheatre.com/contact-and-booking-information/) or from the theatre box office (01263 822347); this venue provides superb facilities for visitors with limited mobility.

 

The North Norfolk Railway, otherwise known as The Poppy Line, is a remnant of the Midland and Great Northern Joint Railway, established in 1893. The Poppy Line is one of Norfolk’s most popular visitor attractions; each year, families flock to Sheringham Station for the Santa Special steam train ride, which runs three times a day on the first four Saturdays and Sundays in December, as well as Wednesday 20th, Thursday 21st, and Friday 22nd December. With refreshments and professional entertainment during the journey, a present for every child, and a craft fair at Weybourne Station (open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.), the Santa Special makes a super Christmas outing.

 

There’s quite a lot going on at St Peter’s Church, Church Street, during December. At 7.30 p.m. on Thursday December 14th, all the Sheringham churches will be getting together for the grand annual Town Carol Concert, featuring several local choirs and bands. On Saturday December 16th, also at 7.30 p.m., there’ll be a brass band Christmas Concert, and every day from Thursday 7th to Tuesday 12th December, the Christmas Festival begins at 10.00 a.m.

 

Norfolk is, in general, a county of dog lovers, and in Sheringham, particularly, canine holiday-makers will feel very much at home!

 

A Christmas daytrip to Norwich

A Christmas daytrip to Norwich

 

Every year, we welcome winter visitors to our cosy one-storey holiday cottages at Boundary Stables. So, what brings people away from home in December, to the wild and windy Norfolk coast? Well, for a start, there’s the warm, peaceful, level-access cottage; there’s the gorgeous Norfolk countryside and spectacular wildlife; there’s a friendly welcome and a real home-from-home feel.

 

But in addition to the comforts of Boundary Stables itself, there’s so much to do and see in the area. Approximately twenty miles from Happisburgh is the lovely, historic city of Norwich, and at this time of year, as Christmas approaches, a trip to Norwich can be a real treat. Packed with beautiful architecture and wonderful shopping opportunities, Norwich also offers a rich world of music and entertainment.

 

Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without a carol concert. Enjoy the marvellous sounds of the Norwich Cathedral Choir’s Christmas Concert on Friday December 15th, beginning at 6.45 p.m. The cathedral, open daily from 7.30 a.m. to 6.00 p.m., has excellent facilities for disabled visitors, including wheelchair loan, disabled toilets, and parking permits.

 

At Norwich’s Roman Catholic Cathedral, on Thursday December 14th, the University of East Anglia Choir invite you to their annual Christmas Carol Concert, beginning 7.30 p.m.; and on Friday 15th and Saturday 16th December, enjoy a variety-filled evening of festive songs and panto-style sketches. The £12-ticket includes a mince pie and a glass of mulled wine. Tickets are available to purchase online from www.uea.ac.uk/music-centre/events/tickets.

 

For some of us, the highlight of the Christmas season is the traditional family pantomime, and when it comes to panto, it doesn’t get better than the annual Theatre Royal show. This year, a dazzling array of stars appear in Beauty and Beast, which opens Wednesday December 13th. Tickets can be purchased online (www.theatreroyalnorwich.co.uk/), or from the Theatre Royal box office (01603 630 000).

 

For some daytime fun, visit the Norwich ice rink, which will be open in the Castle Mall Gardens from Friday December 15th. And for the little ones (No, NOT you, Dad!), there’s the 50-foot high snowman bouncy castle: Snowy Joe. He’s really cool.

 

If you fancy something a bit different, why not book a ticket for Candlelight, Cupcakes and Carols at The Hamlet Centre on Friday December 8th, and spend an evening learning to create amazing festive-themed cupcakes! Tickets, which include six cupcakes to decorate and take away with you, can be purchased from admin@thehamletcharity.org.uk.

 

At the Assembly House Theatre, on Mondays 4th, 11th, and 18th December, you can enjoy Festive Afternoon Tea with Music. If you love opera, there’s a chance to see and hear some of the UK’s finest singers at an evening of music, conversation, canapés, and bubbly, on Sunday 10th December at 7.00 p.m. For a more energetic evening, why not swing by on Wednesday 20th December for the Norwich Christmas Ceilidh. Tickets are £13 and can be purchased from https://norwichchristmasceilidh17.eventbrite.co.uk/.

 

St Andrew’s Hall has some super music in store for December. On Saturday 9th, the Norwich Philharmonic Orchestra will be performing the Mahler Symphony no. 9; and on Tuesday 19th, the ‘Norwich Phil’ will be joined by the Norwich Philharmonic Choir, for a Family Christmas Concert. Both shows begin at 7.30 p.m.

 

Other interesting events in Norwich this month include the City Antiques Fair and Flea-Market at St Andrew’s Hall on Saturday December 16th from 9 a.m. to 4.30 p.m., and a Victorian-themed Christmas market at 20 Bank Plain on Sunday 17th and Monday 18th December.

 

A very merry Christmas to everyone!

Self catering cottages where the owners are there to greet you.

Quiet Days and Starry Nights at Boundary Stables, Norfolk

 

When you arrive at Boundary Stables, we’ll be there to greet you and to introduce you to your cottage. Because we live just across the road, we’re always nearby to assist with any problems or queries. However, if you don’t need us, you’ll hardly notice we’re there!

 

Our five one-storey holiday cottages (Wren, Kestrel, Barn Owl, Goldfinch, and Fieldfare), collectively known as Boundary Stables, have been home-from-home to visitors for 12 summer seasons. The colder months are now upon us, and the cottages are being booked up for winter breaks. Many of our guests return year after year to enjoy the beauty of the Norfolk countryside and the peaceful comfort of a Boundary Stables cottage.

 

Dogs are given a warm welcome at Boundary Stables. Each of the five cottages has an enclosed courtyard – a safe, outdoor area, where you can keep an eye on your dogs through patio doors. There’s a shared paddock within the grounds, ideal for exercising energetic pets; and just a few minutes’ walk from Boundary Stables is Happisburgh beach, a starting point for long rambles along a seemingly endless stretch of unspoiled coastland, where there’s no restricted access for dogs.

 

At the Southern end of Happisburgh beach is Cart Gap. In the 18th and 19th centuries, smugglers would land cargoes of contraband here, far away from the vigilant eye of law enforcement and the curious gaze of neighbours. In the 21st century, smuggling is no longer big business in Norfolk, but we do have more than our fair share of excellent cafés – like the popular, dog-friendly Smallsticks Café at Cart Gap.

 

If you head off from Happisburgh in the opposite direction, you’ll come to Walcott. The highly acclaimed Kingfisher Fish Bar, with indoor seating for 32, is popular for its superb take-away fish and chips. You don’t have to take them far away, though, because the shop is right by the sea wall, where you can sit and eat in the fresh air, overlooking a perfect view of the sea.

 

When you arrive back in Happisburgh, needing something to eat, why not try out Burgers At The Beach, in Beach Road. There’s also the dog-friendly Hill House Inn, visited by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle in 1905, where he conceived the idea for his Sherlock Holmes story, The Adventure of the Dancing Men. But you may prefer the comfort and privacy of home – in which case, plod back to your cottage, take off your wellies (and anything else you feel like taking off), and cook a meal in your own fully equipped kitchen; or if the weather is fine, why not use the charcoal barbecue that comes with the cottage.

 

After a full day in the fresh air, you can ease your tired muscles in the Boundary Stables sauna. On a clear night, as you lie in bed, looking up through the Velux window, you can gaze at a dark starry sky – the kind of sky only seen in the countryside.

 

A Norfolk holiday doesn’t have to be about physical exertion! Boundary Stables cottages are ideal for people with limited mobility. Through the years, we’ve been delighted to welcome elderly guests, some of whom return again and again to enjoy the comfort of a level-access bungalow, with helpful handrails in the bathrooms and a designated disabled parking area.

 

One of our ‘Wren’ guests told us: “If we could go anywhere in the world, we’d still choose to come here.”

Dog friendly cottages near Horsey seals

Horsey Seals

 

The UK is home to around half of the world’s grey seal population; in fact, at Horsey – a small coastal village less than nine miles from Happisburgh and Boundary Stables – human residents are significantly outnumbered by grey seals. The Horsey seal colony is one of Norfolk’s most popular visitor attractions, and many of our winter guests at Boundary Stables have said that seeing the seals at Horsey was a highlight of their holiday.

 

The seals are monitored and protected by a charitable organisation called Friends of Horsey Seals. This group of local volunteers work hard all year round to ensure the well-being of the seals, as well as facilitating viewing opportunities for the public. The volunteers have a great deal of knowledge about the seals, so if you have any questions while you’re there, just ask.

 

For the grey seal – Halichoerus grypus (‘hooked-nose sea pig’) – winter is the busiest time of the year. Between November and January, heavily pregnant cows haul out just a day or two before their babies are due, settling themselves into a comfortable spot for birthing. For the first three weeks of their lives, the new-born pups, covered in soft white fur and weighing in at around 14 kg, gorge themselves on their mothers’ fatty milk, gaining approximately two kg a day; the mothers, however, fast during the nursing period, and can lose up to a quarter of their body weight.

 

The bulls, too, eat nothing during these weeks – and for a very good reason. During the nursing period, the bull seals haul out and position themselves close to the cows, so that when the pups are weaned, they’re in a good position to mate with as many females as they can; wandering off to find food might mean losing one’s place! The younger bulls remain on the outskirts of the group; one day they’ll be big enough to compete for mates.

 

Mating can take up to 45 minutes. After conception, there is delayed implantation (the embryo doesn’t attach to the uterus until more than two months later), and with the nine-month gestation period, the total pregnancy is just over 11 months. Baby seals, therefore, are always born at the same time of the year.

 

When you visit Horsey by car, there’s plenty of space to park. The National Trust pay-and-display car park by Horsey Mill (free to National Trust members) is approximately 20 minutes’ walk away from the viewing sites, and from the car park at Horsey Gap, there’s a walk of about 30 minutes. In the winter time, the footpaths leading to the beach are unsuitable for pushchairs and wheelchairs, so this excursion is not recommended for those with limited mobility.

 

If you’re looking for somewhere nice to eat and drink, we can recommend Poppylands – a traditional tearoom and licenced restaurant at Delph Farm, Waxham Road, Horsey – or the Nelson Head public house, The Street, Horsey.

 

Many of our guests return again and again to Boundary Stables. Here are a few of their comments:

 

Haven’t found any accommodation as good as this for my disability … Excellent wheelchair access to all rooms … Would recommend, but don’t want to. We’d never be able to book if more people knew how good it is!