Dog friendly Norfolk Digs at Heacham

Norfolk Coast B&B Cottages and Camping

2020 is the year of the staycation. Tired of hunkering down at home for months but too wary to travel by air, most of us Brits have hit the road this summer to discover new gems at home or return to old holiday haunts – from Norfolk to Northumberland, from Brighton to Blackpool.

2020 is the year of the staycation. Tired of hunkering down at home for months but too wary to travel by air, most of us Brits have hit the road this summer to discover new gems at home or return to old holiday haunts – from Norfolk to Northumberland, from Brighton to Blackpool.

We joined the herds (building immunity!) in early September, when bored of the lockdown, we had to book a few days away. Having kept a firm lid on our spending over the lockdown, we didn’t want to splash the cash, not did we want to slum it either. A quick online search meant possibly a cottage holiday might be the good middle ground.

Neither Mr O. nor I had been to Norfolk before – what were we thinking? – and having heard quite a few fellow staycationers mention Heacham and Hunstanton several times, the decision was made.

While early September in England is not exactly swimsuit and flip flop weather but the whole point of our staycation was the need to be beside the seasind, and beside the seaside was what it was always going to be. Within our criteria and our budget, it didn’t take us long to settle on Norfolk Coast B&B Cottages and Camping. Two minutes walk from South Heacham Beach, a spacious, dog-friendly cottage offering continental breakfast.

The thought of windswept beach walks followed by downtime in our cosy cottage was enough to get us in the holiday mood, and by the time we turned up on a Saturday afternoon, after spending the day pottering around Hunstanton and enjoying a light lunch at Norfolk Lavender, what welcomed us lived up to expectations.

Our friendly hosts who’d only moved down to Heacham from Peterborough about 18 months ago, got our keys, walks us to our cottage and made us and Doodles feel at home. In all our dog-friendly staycations and dining out, I had never seen Doodles settle down in a new place so fast, as she quickly claimed her territory on the rug.

The Churnery, our abode for the weekend, was cosy and cute, characterful and cottages, with the right balance between modern day comfort and olde worlde charm. Exposed beams offset with fairy lights, a snug bed – albeit a little too soft for my liking, wooden dresser, an old-school iron furnace side by side with a portable heater.

Along with a small fridge where you can keep food and drinks, there is also a good range of instant coffee and tea options and complimentary biscuits on offer. The piece de resistance had to be the cafetiere and a jar of ground coffee. Nothing beats real coffee after all!

Keen to explore, after a quick snoop around, we hit the beach. South Beach is really just a two-minute walk away! If you don’t quite fancy the seaside, there is also the circular four-mile route around Heacham. Nearby village of Old Hunstanton is a six-mile walk while Snettisham RSPB reserve, full of dog-friendly woodlands, and the adjacent Snettisham beach known for its spectacular sunsets can be found is only two miles away.

After a windy walk on the beach early evening, we grabbed take away and settled in for the night. After all, we had the whole of Sunday to explore Heacham further.

The next morning we debated whether to have a fry up or opt for the continental breakfast in the shared kitchen-dining area. Due to Covid-19 precautions, guests can no longer use the space at once, which means it works on a ‘first come, first served’ policy. As the couple in the cottage nextdoor seemingly had come to hunker down, we had the place all to ourselves. Fresh milk, orange juice, country bread and pots of yoghurt, cartons of cereals and a selection of fruits.

While it took a bit of time to convince Mr O. to give the charms of a light continental breakfast a chance, it was actually a treat to give ourselves a break from the usual fry-up we often go for on UK staycations.

After a grey and drizzly Friday, a cold and blustery Saturday, North Norfolk had finally gifted us a sunny day with temperatures around the seasonal average. This was the perfect opportunity to explore the coastal walk to Hunstanton and treat ourselves to ice cream before the long walk back. This was was even more proof that Norfolk has to be one of the most dog-friendly counties in the UK.

Coming back to our cottage in late afternoon, we decided to explore further out and send the early evening at Wells-next-the-Sea catching the sunset and watching the last of the summer crowds at the harbour. With the temperature dipping far too low in the evening, al fresco dining at Wells was no longer an option, so it was another evening of telly and take away back at our cottage and an early night as Monday would be our last day at this idyllic coastal getaway.

The next morning, we woke up to a foggy day which would have meant a nice atmospheric walk to Snettisham, but alas, with the drizzle soon turning into a downpour, it wasn’t meant to be. Following another continental breakfast, with cups and cups of coffee, and a chat with the owner Carol, it was time to leave our home for the weekend.

For two people and a doodle, all new to the world of cottage holidays, Norfolk Coast B&B Cottages truly converted us. As I was leaving, I could imagine myself coming back another season, perhaps in autumn to enjoy the crisp coastal weather, or in winter, to truly hunker down in the quiet Heacham hideout, or in the height of summer, when I might venture into the North Sea waters for a quick dip.

The only downside was the faint smell of mould in the bathroom, which if you keep the room well-aired during the day, is not a deal breaker. After all, you come out to Norfolk to enjoy the beach and the countryside, not stay cooped up in the room. Having said that, with limited dining out options, we found ourselves coming back in early evening and enjoying a take away in our room.

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