Keeping the children busy every weekend is always difficult, specially as we head into the long winter nights. With darkness upon us by 4pm often a long drive out to the big hotspots isn’t an option and therefore places like Bowthorpe Southern Park are great as they offer a local option still packed with lots to see.
Nestled between the housing estate of Three Score and Colney in West Norwich is a nice spot for a quick dog walk or just a family walk along the river. If using a Satnav like Google, simple type ‘Bowthorpe Southern Park Car Park’ or the address ‘Three Score Rd, Norwich NR5 9HY’ to take you to the free car park.
The walk itself takes you along the banks of the River Yare and is a mixture of established paths and grass paths – We recommend that if you visit just after a down pour you go with your wellies! As you can see from the picture above the area was very boggy, so much so that at one point the boy actually lost his welly in the mud. Yet visiting after a downpour actually added another level of adventure and created a nice view across the marshlands.
The area is self is home to a considerable number of horses, who roam around with little fear of humans which is always a bonus. This enabled the youngest to get up close and personal to one, which again is great as its these interactions that set them up, now knowing they have nothing to fear from animals – even ones that are 5 times the size ! After seeing the horses we used the opportunity to stop and have a quick picnic beside the pond which is always nice for the children.
Overall Bowthorpe South park gets a thumbs up from the #norfolkexplorers, with a mixture of environments including marshes, and rivers – So take a bag of carrots, feed the horses and check out this lovely little walk. As always, if you enjoyed this post give the blog a thumbs up and click the follow button for a new blog every weekend, or take the opportunity to look back at all the places we’ve visited in the ‘adventures’ section and things we’ve experienced along our way. Follow us on Instagram too for our day to day adventures and further content!
Oxburgh Hall is defiantly one of the National Trust’s greatest gems – Steeped in history, Oxburgh Hall stands proud in the West Norfolk Countryside just outside Kings Lynn and is a great day out for the whole family – Read below to see our day out at this 15th Century hall !
Completed in 1482 – Oxburgh Hall was home to the Bedingfeld family – And for a family home they didn’t spare any expensive and grandeur.
Parking at Oxburgh hall is plentiful however during the current pandemic the National Trust advise that you book a slot using there online portal (Easily located on their website), however on this occasion we did not book but this did not stop us getting in as there was very few people there.
Unlike many of the places we visit there is a cost attached to this day out if you are not a National trust member. (The Norfolk explorers highly recommend getting a National Trust membership) At the time of writing this article a family ticket was £20 which in our personal opinion is a reasonable fee considering the scale of this place – Also you can visibly see where this money is going as there is a huge restoration project across the hall focusing primarily on the roof – costing the National Trust approx £6 million ! Check out the official Oxburgh Hall Instgram for visuals of what they are doing beneath the tarp.
There are two walks to chose from when on site; the first walk is a really quick 800m walk around the gardens which is enough for those who want to simply see the hall and a dip in the woods however the Norfolk explorers recommend the full Woodland walk which is approx. 3.5km. The walk starts at the main entrance, looping around the hall and then dives deep into the surrounding fields and woodland, taking around an hour to complete. One thing to bare in mind is that these trails are not ‘hard paths’ and are really muddy if there has been a recent down pour therefore make sure you and your family bring appropriate footwear, something i did not do ! Lesson learnt.
Two little nuggets within the ground which are also vital to see are firstly a chapel is located within the grounds and also is the romantic looking cottage known as Chapel Lodge. On further research of Chapel Lodge i was surprised to discover that the National Trust actually allow guests to stay. Disappointingly though they have put a minimum stay of 3 nights and only for couples but its an option for those who are childless and have a long weekend free !
The centre piece to this day is the hall itself and this did not disappoint. Although much of the main structure is covered due to extensive renovation entry is still allowed in to the ground floor of the building. After checking in via the mandatory track and trace QR code you are allowed through to access as series of historical rooms packed full of artefacts.
Overall Oxburgh Hall gets a thumbs up from the #norfolkexplorers, with a mixture of environments including woodlands, fields, mature gardens and the hall itself, it offers a great variety. The facilities are good including toilets, basic catering and plenty of parking. As always, if you enjoyed this post give the blog a thumbs up and click the follow button for a new blog every weekend, or take the opportunity to look back at all the places we’ve visited in the ‘adventures’ section and things we’ve experienced along our way. Follow us on Instagram too for our day to day adventures and further content!
Cost – Free with a valid National Trust Membership – Or approx £20 for a family of 5, can be lower depending on group size.
When I used to hear my mother muttering, ‘you can never have enough storage’, I used to simply think, well stop buying crap and you won’t need to horde it all. Oh how times have changed and naturally the art of not hording possessions is easy said then done!
The Norfolk Explorers are not different in our endless pursuit to fill every void in the family abode. Not happy with a conservatory, garage and a shed to fill up we are now spilling into the lesser frequented areas of the house….the loft.
Now the lady who owned the house prior to use kindly got the loft correctly insulated (at the time of writing this UK government advice is that insulation should be between 250mm and 270mm) with depths of nearly 450mm in areas! Now this is all good until you want to utilise this extra space.
Let there be light! Working in a loft without some good quality lighting is a no no. The biggest reason for getting this bit right first is one wrong foot, particularly before any boards are down can result in a poor foot placement and BAM! You’re foot is hanging through the sealing. After doing some quick research I stumbled across a 2 foot LED light which comes prepared with a 1 meter cable from Screwfix for a bargain of just £16.99. For the sake of the project I have purchased just one however my intention is to have several of these around the parimeter to really brighten up the space. I also chose a set of lights that were suitable for outdoor use, the reason behind this choice is although they are inside my concern was moisture etc in the air and for the sake of £3 I didn’t want to run the risk. As I said the light comes pre wired therefore all you need to do is simply get an old plug and wire in the neutral and the live (no earth required). I’m not an electrician and I don’t really think you need to be one to complete this task however if in doubt pay someone. Its not worth risking if your that unsure. However with a little confidence and the all so wise YouTube, you’ll have this done in no time. From here I simply screwed it up and plugged it in. Assuming that your loft was a ‘dead space’ before I can imagine you don’t have sockets in your loft. I advise you do as its always helpful along the way and overall isn’t especially expensive.
Once I had light it came the task of planning my attack, and to do so I needed some materials. As I’ve said on previous blogs I don’t for a second claim to be a builder and all what I am discussing is my own decisions and in no way reflects what you should do. Before most projects I do talk to tradesman, friends and family to get their view before commencing.
From B&Q I needed two things, loft boards and 2x4s, and I’ll explain why. One cannot simply chuck some loftboards down on the rafters and screw them down, it is critical to raise them for two reasons. The first reason is strength. Laying a second set of rafter running in the opposite direction to the original rafters once screwed down creates a Web effect and therefore strengthens the overall floor area of the build. The second reason is insulation. It is key that you maintain as much depth of the insulation as possible underneath the flooring and limit the ‘squashing’ of the material as this reduces its insulating properties.
With tools in hand it was time to start the build. Starting from the loft hatch I marked the rafters to ensure that the new 2×4 that was sitting ontop in the opposite direction was dead square. Ie when I screwed it down the existing rafters were at a dead 90 degree angle to the new ones I was placing down. This is really important to get right as when lining up your loft boards later on , if this isn’t straight you’ll have an absolute nightmare! The second thing to bear in mind at this point is the spacing between the new top rafters. The loft boards come in a standard length of either 1200mm or 2400mm (i used 1200mm as they are easy to get through the loft hatch) therefore the spacing needs to ensure that when you get to the end half the rafter is empty to allow the next board to butt up to it. Therefore when measuring the rafters need to be spaced 400mm to the centre of the next rafter, thus meaning each board sits on 4 rafters with each end being half on a rafter.
Spacing out the rafters – 400mm centres
Lining up the rafters and screwing then down is very simple. Ensuring your screws are long enough and you ensure you are not trapping any wires, drill the screw in the rafters at a 45 degree angle towards the base of the new rafter, resulting in the screw joining both the new and old rafters. This simple manoeuvre should be repeated from alternative sides. Ie screw one in from the right side and one from the left side. This helps bond everything together and aids stability.
Before adding the boards at this stage it is important to pack out the new elevated spacing between the new rafters. Luckily for me there was plenty of insulation in the loft to simple line the gaps. Don’t force it in just make sure its well filled, this type of insulation works by trapping air in it which it cannot do if compressed.
Laying the boards is very simple if you’ve ensured your rafters are at 90 degree angles and are spread at that 400mm centres as earlier said. Simply place them ontop, ensure they are square and wack a screw into the corners and over any rafters to ensure its firmly tied down. As previously mentioned always keep an eye out on cables etc ensuring not to trap or catch them with the drill.
In the of an hour I’d laid the 4 new rafters and put 4 boards down giving up an extra 1.8m2 of usable storage space. Over the coming weeks I will continue to board out the entire loft giving us more then enough storage. The process is exactly the same therefore I am confident it will go without a hitch.
Thank you for taking the time to read the blog and I hope you find it helpful. Whilst your here why not check out our previous blogs on destinations to visit with the family or any of the other many blogs available, or check us out on Instagram for the daily dose.
Today, the Norfolk Explorers found ourselves on the North Norfolk coast line, in a Little village located near the village of Holt. Baconsthorpe Castle is a lasting reminder of the grand Houses and castles that were dotted across the British landscape in centuries gone by. The village of Baconsthorpe is small and if you’d blink you would miss it, much like the tiny signposts leading you down the farm trail to the remains. If searching for this using google maps simply type ‘Baconsthorpe Castle’ or if searching by postcode use NR25 6LL.
When turning into the sign posted ‘road’ you would think you were actually trespassing as the signage is almost hand written, however follow it down and on your right you’ll see the remains of the outer gate house, simply park up and explore ! Parking itself cost’s £2, with the site being ‘unmanned’ therefore will require you to text to pay the fee.
On our arrival another family with a similar idea to us were using the lush green grass in front of the outer gate house to enjoy a picnic. At the edge of the car park before you follow the path to the outer gate house a fixed information board gives an overview of the history of the estate and also a birds eye view of the site. You’ll notice that on its own its not a significantly large area therefore doesn’t constitute a long walk however the area is covered in history and you natural curiosity and that of your kids will keep you all entertained.
The castle grounds offer everything you’d expect from a historic castle from flint castle walls, a surrounding moat and the remains of watch towers. We thoroughly enjoyed exploring the site, and the children asked many questions about how those who resided here lived their lives.
We decided to end our exploration with a quick coffee and a pot noodle..however this is where it went wrong. After the Kettle was boiling on our portable burner for 5 or so minutes the oldest noticed that the butane gas can was nearing the end and he took it into his own hands to replace it. Without noticing he’d then grabbed a spare can from the crate and attempted to replace it. At this point he thought he was doing right as I’d shown him how to do it several times yet this time he failed to correctly lock it into place. The result was when he clicked the ignite button the stove burst into flames. Naturally he ran, leaving a 5 foot fire pouring from the stove within arms reach of my car. My initial reaction was to quickly get the stove away from my car out of fear of it exploding, resulting in me toe punting the stove a good 2 meters from my car in a fire ball of glory. The stove continued to leak gas and my input merely ‘fueled the fire’ (excuse the pun). I tried pouring 2 litres of water over the stove, which had little impact. Finally, whilst covering my face I freed the can from the stove and kicked a further 2 meters across the field.
Overall the day out was refreshing , not seeking a several mile walk but an opportunity to take in the history of the site and the scale of what once stood here. The children thoroughly enjoyed exploring all the ruins and nooks and crannys dotted across the site therefore this gets a thumbs up from the Norfolk Explorers. As always, if you enjoyed this post give the blog a thumbs up and click the follow button for a new blog every Sunday, or take the opportunity to look back at all the places we’ve visited in the ‘adventures’ section and things we’ve experienced along our way. Follow us on Instagram too for our day to day adventures and further content!
Located in the north-east of Norwich between the suburb of Sprowston and the village of Rackheath is the hidden gem of Harrison’s Wood. We stumbled on this one entirely by accident one afternoon whilst out for the weekly shop and instantly it was a hit with the family, becoming one of the first on our favourites list.
Harrison’s Wood offers multiple access points many of which we have used however we recommend using the car park located on Blue Boar Lane – simply search ‘Cottage plantation’ for the free public car park or type in NR7 8RZ and keep an eye out for forest car park. Bare in mind that particularly on weekends this is quiet popular and the car park itself has capacity for approx. 10 cars.
As with most woodland walks the journey you take is flexible and Harrison’s Wood is no exception. The paths themselves are well established and you often see both bicycles and pushchairs navigating there way along the walkways. When we visited in the autumn you are surrounded by the fallen leaves and a variety of brightly coloured mushrooms which was an entirely different walk from the deep green summer walks we experienced earlier in the year.
We’ve always found that when we take our children to any woodlands they quickly occupy themselves with climbing trees, building dens or scavenging sticks off the floor. This is clearly a hot spot for families with children as dotted about the forest you’ll find secret hidden dens of varying sizes which are great to explore. In the centre along one of the ‘main’ paths that runs through the forest there is a large rope swing which the kids love !
The walk is approximately a mile long if you take the full circuit around the outside, however little paths cut a across the walk ways at multiple points allowing you to increase the length if you desire.
The Norfolk Explorers therefore would highly recommend this adventure; it provides something for the whole family, and provides the peace and quiet we parents need from our children as they explore the great outdoors . We hope you enjoyed reading this blog, so go ahead leave a comment, follow the blog and we’ll see you soon!
Cost – Free
Distance – 1 mile lap but plenty to stop and see along the way .
Famous for its iconic red and white striped light house, the village of Happisburgh on the north Norfolk coast is a great place to visit year round ! Approximately 40 minutes from Norwich its perfect for those early Sunday morning walks, leaving the perfect amount of time for a traditional roast in the afternoon.
Where to park
As you enter the village you are greated with the impressively sized St Mary’s church of Happisburgh village before travelling along ‘The st’ and finally into Beach Road which takes you to the sea front. Enter the postcode NR12 0PR into your sat nav to get straight to the main car park. There is plenty of parking available in the recently renovated car park with a toilet block aswell. The car park itself is approximately £3 therefore offers good value for money for being so close to the beach front and also providing toilets.
What to see
First entering the car park you face the previously mentioned light house which stands proudly out and still to this day is an operational light house. Simply cut through the opening behind the toilet block and you can follow the path right up to the base of the lighthouse, a perfect opportunity for a photo if you didn’t notice.
Walking across the field you will see the remains of an old military pill box which overlooks the North Sea, a cool historical addition. Providing some context to the children who surprisingly found the concept of an impending onslaught from across the channel as one of dads far fetched fantasies was exciting however pieces like this bring it to life.
Heading down the sandy slope to the beach you are presented with the beauty of most Norfolk beaches, Golden sands that stretch uninterrupted for miles. What makes Happisburgh stand out from other beaches is the obvious coastal erosion which is slowly eating away at the coast line.
The exposed cliffs show the many layers that make up the ground beneath us from the sandy upper layers down to the grey clay at the base. Although a nice view, sites like this demonstrate the true power of the sea and the helplessness we feel when attempting to slow its ever growing reach.
The length of this walk is entirely up to you, personally we walked about a mile up before turning back. Happisburgh village also have a website which offers their own trail for you to follow – Find the link below to check out this walk: http://happisburgh.org.uk/explore/.
Looping back round the car park there is a well stocked play area for the children including a tyre swing, swings, climbing frame etc, therefore providing plenty of entertainment for the little ones. I took this opportunity to take my new portable camping stove for a spin, making hot drinks for the whole family and a bite to eat for myself whilst looking over the park and lighthouse.
The Norfolk Explorers therefore would highly recommend this adventure; it provides something for everyone from coastal walks, play areas and a bit of history. Hope you enjoyed reading this blog, so go ahead leave a comment, follow the blog and we’ll see you soon!
Cost – Parking Approx £3
Distance – 2 miles – Journey can be aslong as you like along the sea front.
Now two weeks in to Lockdown V2 – the need to get out and about and enjoy the fresh air has never been more important. General lockdown fatigue is well and truly felt however there is still plenty of places to visit with the whole family.
Located south of Norwich is the little great little woodland walk located in the village of Duston just behind Dunston Hall Golf Course. Heading out of Norwich on the A140 and taking the right left just prior to the entrance to the golf course you will enter the small village of Dunston and find the small car park on the right.
The main common is both dog and child friendly with a small climbing frame located in one corner, comprising of a slide, climbing wall and a fireman’s pole. Just behind this is a bench so the parents can enjoy the woodland views and a little bit of peace!
The walk itself into the woodlands is small however there is plenty to see with hidden paths and ponds located along the journey. To the rear of this you enter the main walkway that leads up to St Remigius Church, Dunston. This little church is nestled in between the surrounding grounds of Dunston hall golf course . A nice little find on this journey was a holly tree growing out of the remains of a long dead tree in the church grounds.
Overall a nice little autumn walk, not long however a variety of environments from open common, woodlands and church grounds. Therefore for those little feet or just a nice weekend walk we recommend adding this to your places to visit !
With the winter nights closing in , more time is spent indoors, starting all those projects that have been put off throughout summer, and we are no exception. We purchased our 1950s house July 2019 for a bargain price and with that came alot of work to bring it up to scratch. I intend over the coming weeks to document all that we have done in relation to the home. Now the bathroom is something we all put off, primarily due to the inconvenience it causes with out of action wash facilities etc . Luckily we have a downstairs toilet however we lack another bath/shower room therefore this has to be taken into consideration when progressing with this project. So the intention is simple. Remove the dividing wall between the separate bathroom and toilet, easy you say?!
Now before we could start any demolition work, the planning stage commenced. For us there was a few criteria for our new bathroom. Firstly we want to retain having a bath, secondly, we want a separate shower, thirdly, just a simple sink and toilet to complete the suite, fourthly cause as little disruption to the house hold routine as possible.
Job 1 which occurred prior was to remove the old radiator from the dividing wall. Luckily I have a family member is the trade who kindly came over and capped off the old pipework before removing the radiator and then putting a new towel radiator in the room in its new final position. Although in essence not an incredibly difficult task I would recommend paying someone to do this. In the end having foul radiator water leaking into your ceiling etc is not something worth risking in my view and ultimately money well spent.
Now let me start by confirming something which I know is abundantly clear already, I am not a builder and everything I suggest or have done is purely my own knowledge gained from life and conversations and does not constitute a professional opinion.
So I’ve split the task into several parts for a few reasons; limit the impact on life , with all projects I knew I needed to dedicate alot of time into this therefore two working parents and raising three children doesn’t offer much free time. Linking onto that I need to make sure we can all function ie wash when we need to. The second reason which I will go into is advice. Knocking down a wall isn’t is simple as taking a hammer and letting rip.
With the weekend presenting itself and a day of awful weather i took the plunge and began the project. Starting with removing the tiles on the bathroom wall i separated the waste into its different components. The reason behind this is due to our local waste sites only taking segregated waste therefore it seemed logical to do this as we progressed rather then delay an inevitable task! That left three different sacks of waste tiles, plasterboard and wood.
The work itself is relatively easy simply removing the tiles using a hammer and bolster and then bashing out the plastered board between the stud wall. This was quiet a messy task therefore I recommend that you both open windows to carry some of the dust away but also cover anything within the area as it gets extremely dusty. I would also advise wearing a mask as in my case I was disturbing material which had laid stationary for nearly 70 years!. Little tip, as you go clean up keeping your work area tidy and also hammer any nails exposed during the task into the studs. Getting sliced by one of these isn’t nice and I’m sure would test your immune system..
Within 2 hours I had removed most of the tiles and the plasterboard, and this is were I drew the line for the day. Now that I have exposed the studs I have reached the current end to my knowledge and require a professional input. At this point I am unsure if this studwall is supporting any of the rafters in the roof and would be uncomfortable in taking the risk, therfore am seeking professional advice from a certified structural engineer. Part 2 will commence post inspection.
Thank you all for reading. Come back in the near future to see how the project is progressing!
Located in the South East of Norwich just beyond the small village of Trowse Newton sits the beautiful Whitlingham Country park making up part of the wider Norfolk Broads. Born out of the demand for gravel the great mining area has since been flooded and turned into an enormous lake and surrounding walkways packed with things to see and do, its a win for the whole family.
Heading towards Whitlingham Country park along Whitlingham Lane you have the option of free parking along the road leading up to the site or there is a selection of car parks dotted closer to the main lake – At just under £3 we chose to park in the provided RCP car park next to ‘The Flint Barn’ , a great little café to stock up on hot coffees and some nibbles if your peckish on route. Naturally with a family of 5 i would always advise that you pack some treats in advance but i have to admit there is something satisfying stepping out of a café with a steaming latte for a walk in the morning. Parking can be paid via card or online using an App so is extremely easy. Within the car park there is toilets provided which due to the length of the walk i would recommend any young children utilise.
Now the walk itself is very flexible in the sense that you have the main structured loop of the main lake itself which is approx 2.3 miles and takes just under an hour with little feet present (approx 45 just adults). However along the way there is plenty of opportunities to detour off of this route and explore the surrounding woodlands particularly as you head towards the ‘home run’ of the walk. This extended walk follows a path that runs parralel with the southern bypass (A47) and can be followed to enter the village of Trowse Newton which has a selection of small pubs and cafe’s.
Along the north of lake wraps the river Yare which is normally full of boats and also canoes that have been hired. Just to the rear of this is the main trainline that runs from the East Coast ie Great Yarmouth therefore for those who like to see trains cutting through the scenary this is a good spot for that too.
Overall the walk itself is great for all the family, with plenty to see along the way. The loop itself is extremely popular with locals and those travelling into Norwich and is often quiet busy however due to the size of the park itself you don’t really notice. Our 3 children thoroughly enjoy it every time we take them round and barely notice the distance which is always a benefit. Therefore this gets the thumbs up from the Norfolk Explorers !
Cost – Car Park Only – Approx. £3 for 2 hours
Distance – 2.5 miles
Toilets – Public toilets available at the main car park
Based on the North Cornish coast is the impressive Tintagel Castle. Famously linked to King Arthur but alone its positioning on its own island rasied out off the sea floor via jagged rocks make it a spectacle on its own.
As mentioned on a previous blog, any adventure within Cornwall should come with a effort warning. Expect steep inclines, hard terrain, but also expect amazing views. Pack accordingly as we went with our entire tribe (at the time aged 4,7 and 10) we knew we needed lots of fluids and plenty of snacks to keep their energy up ( and to shut them up when they moaned about the inclines).
Parking itself is of limited capacity and due to the nature of the local roads you are limited to the official car parks itself. We parked ourselfves in the ‘Old Tintagel Country Club Car Park, located as close to the main ‘Castle Road’ down to the sea front.
Any visitors (Which admittedly before we went we didn’t know) should be aware that the site is an official ‘English Heritage’ site therefore has a price attached to visiting. See below the prices for the visit At the time of writing this article (October 2020). Now at this point i will be honest, looking at the site itself and the price tag attached to it – As a family of 5 this would have been a minimum of £37.30 (Not including a voluntary donation) i viewed this as excessive. As with many considerations i make on our trips are the value that the entire family will get from the trip, and in all honesty i could not see a 4, 7 and a 10 year old taking full advantage of it.
Prices onto the Tintagel Castle Island as of October 2020
Below i have shown the route we took which provides two key points of interest, firstly Glebe Hill for the photos and then St Materiana’s Church which is a lovely little church which the children really enoyed.
Therefore for anyone wanting a review of the island itself, i would stop reading, however if you a take on how to see the scale of the ‘Castle’ without the price tag feel free to continue. Now as you walk down ‘Castle Road’ approx half way down you will see a small wooden bridge to your left hand side, this will take you up a hill to a free National Trust site known as Glebe Hill. On the way up the hill the children uncovered a wrecked car. Based on its location and the fact it was on its roof the only logical explanation as to how it got there as that aliens dropped it out of the sky. The car itself was Still full of old cassettes which I had to explain to the children were a historic method of playing your favorite tracks !
The top of the hill offers amazing views of the castle without the price tag and also provides a nice circular walk around the village.
The walk itself is just under 2 miles however with a mixture of elevations and the constant stop starting from both children and the sites around it lasts a lot longer then you’d expect.
Cost – Car park and a Cornish pastry
Distance – Depending on how far you explore approx 2 miles – Wear the right footwear
Toilets – Public toilets located in the middle of the town