NORFOLK

Norfolk is one of those English counties which just oozes with historic sites and places to visit.

The seventeenth century Blickling Hall (north of Norwich), is a fine Jacobean house with Dutch-style flourishes, and is owned by the National Trust. There's a stunning moulded ceiling in the Great Hall and you can walk in the parkland that can be seen from the windows.

The 18th century Palladian style facade of Holkham Hall may not be to everyone's taste but this country house is magnificent, set as it is, in 1200 acres of deer park. A mile or so away is one of Britain's largest coastal nature reserves - the Holkham National Nature Reserve. In fact the whole of this northern stretch of Norfolk's coastline is dotted with reserves and marshes, and is a mecca for ildlife enthusiasts.

There are Roman remains too. At Caister the gateway and building outlines of the fort remain; the town once being a Roman trading link Europe. The village of Burgh is home to Burgh Castle which still has good sections of wall standing; the site overlooking the expanse of Breydon Water and the Nature Reserve which bears the same name.

Further round the coast are Happisburgh with its distinctive red and white lighthouse, the small Saxon church in the one-time smuggling village of Horsey, and the nearby Horsey Mere National Trust site. Also slightly inland is the small village of West Somerton the local churchyard being the resting place of one Robert Hales. Who he, you might rightly ask? Well, he lived in the early 19th century and was over seven and a half feet tall, and weighed thirty-two stone.

Near King's Lynn is the splendid 12th century Castle Rising keep, dominating the small hamlet below its 50ft defensive walls. From the same period is Castle Acre Priory near Swafham which has a very elaborate west front and a re-created medieval herb garden. Also take a look at 14th century Thetford Priory. The area around Heacham village is famous for its Lavender growing.

One of Norfolk's most famous landmarks is Grimes Graves, the site of prehistoric flint mining. The ground above is dimpled with hundreds of pits, but one of the deep shafts can be visited so you can see how the ancients dug out their flint for knifes and cutting implements.

Nature lovers with a passion for ornithology should head for Cley Marshes west of Sheringham which is a major UK reserve. Sheringham itself was a quiet village until the arrival of the railway at the end of the 19th century transformed it into a holiday resort (like many other towns and villages in Norfolk). To the south-west is the National Trust property of Sheringham Park, built in the early 19th century. Roughly midway between Cromer and Sheringham is West Runton which has a museum devoted to the Norfolk Shire Horse.

At Blakeney there's a 14th century Guildhall and the nearby Church of St. Nicholas which has a tower rising to over 100ft. To the west of Blakeney village itself there is a large National Nature Reserve on Blakeney Point.

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