Published in Feast, issue 44 – March 2020.
Medieval Blakeney, set in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, is a perfect spot for walkers, sailors, bird watchers and those who love to see the baby seals, the pups, each year.
Life in the North Norfolk village centres around the quay, and the huge expanse of marshes, sand hills and mud banks, with numerous creeks carving their way through, call you as the Norfolk Coastal Path weaves its way around the estuaries.
It’s a peaceful place at this time of year (less so in summer!) and my husband and I were after a quiet weekend of good food, gentle walks along the coastline and a little bit of retail therapy.
We were based at Michaelmas Cottage, a new property with the Blakeney Cottage Company, just on the edge of the village. Beautifully equipped, with a bright and bold coastal design, designed by Alexandra Johnson Interior Design Ltd, a woodburner and four bedrooms, it is a comfortable place to base yourself and so handy for the town’s playing fields, shops and pubs.
With such a great kitchen and dining area, it was tempting to eat in so we raided Weston’s fish shop in the village, stocking up with pates and super fresh shellfish, and also visited Blakeney Deli for more treats, including fresh bread, local cheeses, and some great cake! Plus fizz, of course.
One day, post a bracing walk around Blakeney Freshes, we lunched at The White Horse, an Adnams pub with rooms, near the quay. We enjoyed posh sandwiches, with Himself having a pint of Ghost Ship, too. It’s a lovely spot, friendly and welcoming, and easy to linger.
We also ate out at the Langham Blue Bell, a very welcoming pub just a couple of miles inland. I enjoyed ham, egg and chips, with a great pineapple chutney, while Himself had smoked sea trout. I polished off a great lingonberry Bakewell tart for afters and the chocolate sundae looked great, too.
The area is a walker’s paradise – Morston is a mile and a bit to the west of Blakeney and you can explore the quay there and call in to the Anchor for refreshments, while Cley is a couple of miles to the east and again offers lots of pitstop options such as Artemis Café which has great coffee from Strangers. Wiveton Hall and its very attractive café is on the way back but was shut for its winter break when we visited. Next time!
We didn’t stride out to Blakeney Point, a long shingle spit which is home to Britain’s largest colony of grey seals, as it is a fair hike of four miles out, and the same back, but it is a fabulous, fresh walk as you head to the bright blue lifeboat house, perched at the end. Or, at the right time of year, you can take one of the boat trips from either Blakeney or Morston quay to see the seals, with great commentary from the crews.
Instead, I spent a lovely morning pottering around the shops in the village; The Anchor is crammed with fashion and home goodies, and The Quay gallery offers atmospheric seascape scenes. And I also loved exploring the numerous little alleyways which is where you feel the real history of the village as you can easily imagine smugglers darting in and out of the shadows.
Blakeney is a magical place, with the tight-knit village contrasting with the wide open expanses of the sea and sky.
- Michaelmas cottage: is available to let through The Blakeney Cottage Company, tel 01263 741777, www.blakeneycottagecompany.co.uk