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Tuesday, April 13, 2010
Often overlooked in favour of Hunstanton and Wells
Where is it
Brancaster is situated along the North Norfolk coast on the A149 between Hunstanton and Wells. This area of coastline, known as the Saxon shoreline, has much local tradition, as well as a thriving tourist business, Brancaster has an irresistible mixture of ancient custom and modern progression.
The village, while trying to attract tourists, retains the charm of the smuggling village it once was.
It provides the traditional pub, village church, school, and post office, as well as a couple of well-stocked chandleries and several road-side fishmongers selling locally-caught fish and mussels and freshly-picked samphire from the marshes.
The beach, situated one mile from the village, is perfect for days out during the summer, or walks in the winter.
Next to the beach is the Royal West Norfolk Golf Club, and, about a mile along the coast road is Brancaster Staithe Harbour (above and below), run by the National Trust, where boats and canoes can be hired.
The village itself is quiet most of the year round, except during July and August when holidaymakers flock to the north coast and its beautiful beaches.
Brancaster was the site of the Roman camp and cemetery, Branodunum.
The pretty church of St. Mary the Virgin, built in the 14th Century using remains from the Roman camp is a mixture of Saxon and Norman architecture.
In Saxon times, King Edgar gave the patronage of the church to the Abbey of Ramsey. Brancaster was once a smuggling centre with locals shipping in goods from France illegally to avoid paying taxes. The nearby village of Burnham Thorpe was the birthplace of Norfolks most famous hero, Lord Nelson.
What to see around Brancaster
Brancaster itself offers the more unassuming attractions but nearby is the town of Hunstanton, with the Sea Life Sanctuary, the Oasis leisure centre and swimming pool, along with shops and arcades.
The Titchwell Marsh RSPCB Nature Reserve is the home of many rare birds, such as avocet, marsh harrier and redshank.
The stately home and grounds of Holkham Hall, home of the Earl of Leicester, is worth a visit.
The famous Burnham Market, the Chelsea of Norfolk, is a short drive from Brancaster for clothes shopping, gifts and hats at Norfolks largest hat shop.