25 Norfolk family outings in which the rain doesn’t matter
PUBLISHED: 11:58 25 August 2014 | UPDATED: 11:58 25 August 2014
Rain, rain — go away. With today’s heavy showers it pays to be prepared for your summer fun not to be spoilt. Thankfully there is still plenty to do with wellies and an umbrella. SIMON PARKIN picks 25 places to head to stay dry.
• Norwich Cathedral
Cathedral Close, Norwich, 7.30am-6pm daily, free admission (donations welcome), 01603 218440, www.cathedral.org.uk
For over 900 years this Norman building has dominated the Norwich skyline – though you’d be surprised at the number of people who’ve never actually visited. Wet weather is a perfect excuse to step inside and soak up the history of this magnificent building. There are daily tours with trained guides.
• RNLI Henry Blogg Museum
The Rocket House, The Gangway, Cromer, Tues-Sun 10am to 5pm, 01263 511294, www.rnlicromer.org.uk
Coxswain Henry Blogg (1876-1954) was the RNLI’s most decorated lifeboatman. The RNLI Henry Blogg Lifeboat Museum tells incredible stories of Cromer men putting their lives in danger to rescue strangers from the sea. You will find interviews with crew members, ‘kit’ to try on for yourself, model boats, Morse code practice and more in this family-friendly museum. Currently there is also an exhibition telling the story of the emergency services, from Victorian volunteer fire brigades to today’s dedicated coastguard crews.
• Time and Tide Museum
Blackfriars Road, Great Yarmouth, until November 11, 9.30am-4.30pm daily, £4.95 (£3.95 cons), £3.50 children, £12 family, 01493 743930, www.museums.norfolk.gov.uk
In a former Victorian herring curing works, the Time and Tide tells the fascinating story of Yarmouth, including shipwrecks, fishwives and saucy postcards. You can still smell the fish in the timbers, as well as wander down a reconstructed “row” of homes and shops, hearing from the residents of a century ago. Currently also the family friendly Super Models exhibition.
• BBC Tour
The Forum, Norwich, Sundays, £8.50 (£7.75 cons), £6.50 under-16s, 0370 9011227, bbc.co.uk/showsandtours
We’ve watched or listened to the programmes, but have you ever wondered just what goes on in the BBC’s Norwich outpost? The BBC offers a fantastic chance to gain access to the rarely seen world on its behind-the-scenes tours every Sunday. Visits include the Look East TV studio, a peek into the presenters’ dressing-rooms, the Radio Norfolk studios plus having a go at the hands-on interactive studio experience.
• Green Britain Centre
Turbine Way, Swaffham, Mon-Fri 10am-4pm, free admission, guided turbine tours £6 (£5 cons), £4 children, £18 family, 01760 726100, www.greenbritaincentre.co.uk
You’ve probably driven past and marvelled at the turbine that looms over the A47 but how about climb to the top — all without getting wet. Admission to the eco-centre is free, with lots of activities, but should you feel energetic but there is a small charge to climb the turbine. It’s worth visiting simply for the spectacular views.
• Happisburgh Lighthouse
Happisburgh, August 17/24-25/31, 11am-4pm, £3, £1 children, www.happisburgh.org/lighthouse
The region’s oldest working lighthouse, dating from 1790, Happisburgh is also the only independently run one too. There are regular open days and on Sundays you can make the 112-step climb to the lantern room though it is definitely not one for vertigo sufferers (or under-8s). On a clear day you can see 13 miles — and maybe spot better weather.
• RAF Air Defence Radar Museum
Neatishead, Horning, 10am-5pm Tues/Thurs, Bank Holiday Monday, £7 (£6 cons), £5 teenagers, £2.50 7-12, under-7s free, 01692 631485, www.radarmuseum.co.uk
It may sound a little dull but this museum is a fascinating exploration of the development of radar from the 1930s to the present day. There are imaginative displays using an original Cold War operations rooms (used until 1993), a nuclear bunker and a Night Blitz room.
Marine Parade, Great Yarmouth, Wed 4pm-7pm/Sat 11am-4pm/Sun 11am-2pm, £4.95, £3.95 under-5s, under-2s free, £16.50 family, 01493 854349, www.retroskate.net
Yarmouth has a long history of roller skating and has produced more national champions per head of population than anywhere else in the country. At Retroskate, on the seafront, the family can get their skates on. Summer holiday public sessions Tues-Fri 12pm-5pm, and if you really want to strut your stuff roller discos on Wed, Fri and Sat.
• Nelson Monument
South Denes, Great Yarmouth, Sundays, £6, 01493 850698, www.nelson-museum.co.uk
During 2012 this Grade I listed monument will only be open every Sunday pre-booked tours. Climb all 217 steps to experience the breathtaking views — Norwich Cathedral can be seen on a clear day — and to learn more about the Monument.
• Sea Life Centre
Marine Parade, Yarmouth, Mon-Fri 10am-4pm/Sat-Sun 10am-5pm, £15 on door, under-3s free, from £25.80 family, big savings booking online, 01493 330631, www.sealifeeurope.com
Norfolk boasts two Sea Life Centres, one in Yarmouth and another in Hunstanton, home to England’s biggest colony of common seals. Hunstanton is currently closed for refurbishment, but at Yarmouth highlights include the rays, seahorses and octopus. Staff enthuse about the incredible aquatic life and offer fun facts like where a starfish’s bum is.
• Poppy Line
Sheringham Station, trains run daily on various timetables, tickets from £6.80 (£6.30 cons), £4.60 children, £21 family, 01263 820800, www.nnrailway.co.uk
Out of the rain, this has to be the most glorious way to take in the North Norfolk coast. The 10.5 mile round trip from Sheringham to Holt goes through outstanding rolling countryside, takes in the beauty spots of Kelling Heath and Sheringham Park to the south. To the north, almost nothing but the sea. Special events include the Grand Steam Gala on Aug 29-31.
• Summer Mixes
The Garage, Chapelfield North, Norwich, August 18-22, times and prices vary, 01603 283382, thegarage.eventbrite.co.uk
Performing arts workshops at Norwich’s youth venue to keep your kids entertained indoors all next week. Includes drama, circus skills, shadow puppet creation and street and break dancing. Some are free. No experience needed just pop come along and enjoy!
• Lynn Museum
Market Street, King’s Lynn, Tues-Sat 10am-5pm, £3.95 (£3.40 cons), £2.30 children, £10 family (2 adults), 01553 775001, www.museums.norfolk.gov.uk
Step back in time as you walk into a life size replica of Seahenge. This astonishing Bronze Age timber circle, discovered at in 1999, is the museum’s centrepiece, but it isn’t the only treasure, learn the fascinating story of local inventor Frederick Savage and his steam fairground rides. Summer events include 1914: Lynn goes to War (Aug 19) and Rediscover Romans (Aug 26).
• Thursford Collection
Thursford, Mon-Sat 12pm-5pm, £9.50 (£8.50 cons), £5.50 children, under-4s free, 01328 878477, www.thursford.com
The world’s largest collection of steam engines and organs, begun some 50 years ago by George Cushing. An eye-popping array of steam-powered machines including a Venetian gondola ride. Hear Robert Wolfe one of the world’s leading theatre organists play the mighty Wurlitzer at 1.30pm and 3pm daily, enjoy back stage tours and watch silent movies.
• Stock Car Racing
Yarmouth Stadium, £15 (£12 cons), £7 under-14s, under-4s free, £43 family, 01493 720343, www.yarmouthstadium.co.uk
Thrills, spills, crashes and smashes mean a trip to Yarmouth Stadium is a must for all young petrolheads and you can watch undercover in the Grandstand (£1 extra). This Sunday (5.30pm) there is hot rods, bangers and rookie rods, Tuesday (7.30pm) has bangers, Reliant Robins and street stocks. Thursdays feature the Adrenaline Overload Stunt Show with monster trucks and extreme motorbiking.
• Museum of the Broads
The Staithe, Stalham, 10.30am-5pm daily, £5 (£4.50 cons), £2.50 children, under-5s free, £13 family, 01692 581681, www.museumofthebroads.org.uk
The only waterside museum of Broadland life, in a traditional setting at Stalham Staithe. Discover the boats of the Broads and how people’s working lives shaped the landscape. If it clears up try a trip on a steam launch too (extra charge).
• Peter Coke Shell Gallery
West Cliff, Sheringham, 12pm-4pm daily, free admission, 01263 824343, sheringhamsociety.com/peter-coke-shell-gallery
Actor, playwright and sea shell sculptor Peter Coke dies aged 95 in 1998 leaving behind this fascinating little museum featuring more than 180 of his weird, wacky and every beautiful sea shell sculptures. Inspired by 18th century sailor’s valentine sculptures they include extremely intricate flower arrangements, gardens and pagodas.
• Flower Festival
St Mary’s Church, Old Hunstanton, August 15-17, 10am-5pm, free admission, 01485 534010
Now in its 40th year, the Old Hunstanton flower festival is an unmissable event in Norfolk’s summer calendar. This year’s theme is My Favourite Book, with literary works inspired floral artists. Alongside the magnificent floral displays, there will be plenty of stalls, cakes, preserves crafts, gifts, bric-a-brac, plants, jewellery - the list goes on. A perfect haven from the rains.
• Dad’s Army Museum
The Old Fire Station, Cage Lane, Thetford, Sat/Tues 10am-3pm, 01842 751975, www.dadsarmythetford.org.uk
Since it opened in 2007, this museum dedicated to the BBC comedy classic has gone from strength to strength. Today thousands of visitors make their way to Thetford (aka Walmington-on-Sea) each year to see where the series was filmed. Run by an enthusiastic and dedicated platoon of volunteers, there are also trails and guided tours should the weather clear up.
• Denver Mill
Sluice Road, Denver, 10am-4pm, 01366 384009
Three generations of milling — wind, steam and electric — at this still working mill, dating from 1835. Work up an appetite climbing to the very top up precarious ladders, before returning to ground floor to sample delights from the mill’s bakery in the tea room.
• City Boats
Griffin Lane, Thorpe St Andrew, 10am-4pm daily, fares vary, 01603 701701, www.cityboats.co.uk
The River Wensum forms a loop around the city which makes it ideal for a boat trip to see Norwich from a different angle and it can be enjoyed whatever the weather (barring an unlikely hurricane). City Boats run a selection of daily cruises, lasting from 20 minutes to three hours and depart from three quays.
• Minicarlo Fishing Trawler
Heritage Quay, South Pier, Lowestoft, Mon-Thurs 10am-4pm, admission free (donations welcome), 01502 565234, www.lydiaeva.org.uk
Trawlers have faced plenty of bad weather but here you can get indoors to visit the last surviving fishing vessel from Lowestoft’s once mighty fleet. Built and fitted in the town, the Minicarlo now spends the summer touring between Lowestoft and Yarmouth, but during the week you can visit to learn about the history of this once vital industry.
• Under The Pier Arcade
Southwold Pier, 9am-7pm daily, www.underthepier.com
The bonkers, weird and whacky world of Tim Hunkin unique collection of hand-built, utterly silly, totally potty machines is simply the best amusement arcade there is. Walk the Dog and get the mother-in-law frisked. Whack a Banker. Lend a hand to grandma on Mobility Masterclass and try to get her across the road with a Zimmer frame in one piece! Dare to manhandle the plutonium rods into your own nuclear reactor on My Nuke!
• UEA Sportspark
Earlham Road, Norwich, 7.15am-10.30pm daily, admission rates vary, 01603 592398, www.sportspark.co.uk
What better way to avoid getting wet than by, well, getting wet. Swimming is the perfect family outing to beat inclement weather. The Sportspark boasts an Olympic-sized pool, but if swimming isn’t your thing, what about squash, badminton, judo, climbing…? The choice is yours.
• Norwich City Hall/Tower
St Peter’s Street, Norwich, Mon-Fri 8.45am-5pm, free admission, 01603 727927, www.norwich.gov.uk
Another Norwich landmark that a surprising number of people have never looked around. It is worth taking a Blue Badge guided tour around the 1938 building (dates/times from the Tourist Information office) to explore the art deco interior. Trips up the famous clock tower are by appointment.