From the peace and quiet of its countryside to the pleasures of its market towns and villages, South Norfolk and the Waveney Valley have so much to offer visitors, whatever their age or interests
The historic market towns of Diss and Harleston are certainly worth a visit. Their fine churches, traditional markets and excellent pubs, tea shops, hotels and bed & breakfasts fill them with life and character. Take the time to explore the speciality shops and discover the art galleries, antique shops and heritage sites. There are many ‘hidden gems’ in the numerous villages and surrounding countryside including arts and crafts studios, micro breweries, farm shops and a host of excellent places to eat, drink and stay.
A patchwork of fields, meadows, rivers and broads shape the South Norfolk landscape. The Waveney Valley offers unrivalled fishing sites. Birdwatchers also flock to South Norfolk keen to spot the bittern, a Norfolk native.
South Norfolk is a place of discovery and delight – for natural beauty, bustling towns and villages and historical sites, it simply can’t be beaten.
The whole area surrounding the Boudicca Way offers a rare chance to experience a rural landscape which has remained substantially unspoilt for hundreds of years. You can walk for miles along hedgerows, field edges and through woods, experiencing the beautiful gently undulating countryside of South Norfolk and possibly catch a glimpse of the rich and varied wildlife this habitat supports.
Quiet and off the beaten track, Tyrrel’s Wood is a welcome spot for visitors and wildlife alike. At the centre is an ancient woodland site, named Boscus de Grischave in records dating back to 1251, and believed to have been around since the Ice Age. It has been designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) because of the immense variety of woodland packed into such a small area.
High Ash Farm is situated just 2 miles south of Norwich at Caistor St. Edmund in beautiful wooded and rolling countryside. The farm is a haven for wildlife with half the farm being set aside for wildlife crops in 2007. Of particular note is the bee walk, which takes about an hour and a half, starts from the car park of the Roman Town, with signs about every 200 metres. There are also five miles of permissive paths on the arable farm.
Redgrave & Lopham Fen provides the largest remaining river valley fen in England and the source of the River Waveney. As one of the most important wetlands in Europe, Redgrave and Lopham Fen now has international protection. As well as an open fen the reserve includes a mixture of wet heathland, open water, scrub and woodland. The underlying acid and alkaline geology has resulted in characteristic wildlife including many species now rare in Britain.
Whitlingham Country Park offers 280 acres of beautiful countryside that is a perfect spot for walkers, cyclists, birdwatchers and family outings. The park has cycle paths, picnic meadow and a visitors centre with a café, information point and toilet facilities. Take a stroll or cycle around Whitlingham’s two magnificent broads, investigate Whitlingham Wood or just bring a picnic and relax and have fun by the water’s edge!
Whitlingham is also the location of the purpose built Outdoor Education Centre which offers a wide range of courses from sailing and canoeing to off-road biking, climbing, archery and much more.
Whitlingham is a haven for nature and wildlife – keep your eye out for swans, ducks and geese paddling in the water and you’ll be hard pressed to miss the noisy exotic Egyptian geese. Take a trip to Whitlingham Wood to spot woodpeckers, tree creepers and jays. A visit to the conservation area on the northern shore of the Great Broad may include sightings of a wide variety of waterfowl, lapwing and even herons!
The written history of the town of Diss can be traced back to the Domesday Book, but there is also evidence of Stone, Iron and Bronze Age man in the area. The town lies in the beautiful Waveney Valley and has been established over many centuries around one of the deepest natural inland lakes in the country. Known as the Mere, it covers 6 acres and provides a picturesque setting for the eclectic selection of Medieval, Georgian and Victorian buildings in the quaint town centre.
The town centre has a number of thriving shopping streets and interesting yards where many individual shops and high quality cafés and restaurants can be found. It hosts an historic Market every Friday, which coincides with a local antiques and collectables auction held at the famous Gaze’s Saleroom, as featured on programmes such as ‘Cash in the Attic’ and ‘Bargain Hunt’.
The Mere is bordered on one side by the picturesque Diss Park. A short walk from the Park is Fair Green, a charming village green surrounded by character cottages. A charter to hold an annual fair was originally granted for the town in the 1100s and from the mid-1400s it was held on Fair Green. In the early days these fairs consisted of stock sales, cock fighting and bull baiting. Today, travelling fairs and circuses come to Fair Green two or three times a year and are very popular in the town.
Harleston is an ancient market town situated in south Norfolk with the River Waveney forming a part of its parish boundary in the south. Historic Harleston was on the main coaching route from London to Great Yarmouth – a number of fine old coaching inns remain as a legacy of that time.
The town grew up around its ancient market and has always been an important trading centre with trades and services reflecting the needs of the local agricultural community. Although the linen weavers, corn merchants, maltsters and brewers have all gone, modern day Harleston remains a vibrant, bustling market town and is still an important centre for the surrounding rural community.
The historic city of Norwich is dominated by its magnificent Norman cathedral, boasting the largest cloisters in England, the second tallest spire in the country and an amazing 1,200 carved stone roof bosses – one of the greatest art treasures of medieval Europe. Norwich is proud of its past and present status. Its ancient buildings and city wall remains make it the most complete medieval city in Britain. In medieval times Norwich was one of the greatest cities in England, and today, as East Anglia’s capital city, it still is – offering a rare blend of historic interest and modern sophistication.
Shopping in Norwich is a rather unique experience – high street stores, designer brands, independent shops and quirky goods are all on offer in this city listed as one of the top 10 places to shop in the UK. Outside of London’s Oxford Street, Norwich is the only place in the UK to have 4 national department stores as well as a local independent department store, Jarrold, within its city centre.
Norwich has also always been a great place for a night out with stylish café bars, pubs, clubs, cinemas, theatres, restaurants, nightclubs, concerts, exhibitions and festivals – the choice is endless.