Shops, churches and cafes - why you should visit Wroxham and Rackheath

On the River Bure at Wroxham.Picture: James Bass

On the River Bure at Wroxham.Picture: James Bass - Credit: Eastern Daily Press © 2014

If proof were needed of just how diverse Norfolk is, travel the eight miles or so from Norwich, capital of the county, to Wroxham, capital of The Norfolk Broads.

All Saints Church, RackheathPhoto: Bill SmithFor: StockArchant © 2007(01603) 772434

All Saints Church, RackheathPhoto: Bill SmithFor: StockArchant © 2007(01603) 772434 - Credit: Archant © 2007

The journey will take you a mere 15 minutes by train, 20 minutes by car or 30 minutes by bus.

Wroxham is where the waters of the Norfolk Broads lap at the green fringes of the town, where swans glide by in snow-white fleets on the River Bure, and where some of the best shopping to be had in the county can be found clustered in the heart of the town.

Shopping locally in the town offers plenty of choice. And it doesn't come much more local than Roys of Wroxham. Founded in Coltishall in 1895 by brothers Alfred and Arnold Roy, the current complex includes a department store, toys, fashion, and lots for the house and garden.

Wroxham Barns is another year-round magnet for shoppers of all ages, and a good place to find answers to some of the trickier Christmas gifts on your list. Browse the studios and showrooms of local artists and craftspeople, or tour the racks and shelves of the boutique shops, and you're likely to come away with a unique, surprise gift. If you're shoring up the Christmas larder, you won't want to miss the pantries full of local produce.

For a Christmas treat for the little ones, book your seats on a Bure Valley Railway Santa Special; the round-trip takes about three hours, and there are regular departures from Wroxham all the way up to Christmas Eve.

Although the town centre is a well-established shopping destination in its own right, it's easy to take your time, slow down a little, and stop altogether at one of Wroxham's cafés and eateries. It's a winning recipe: browse, shop, stop and watch the world drift by – and shop again.

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Travelling back towards Norwich brings you to Rackheath, an ancient village Norfolk village and home to an active local community. Local groups take part in everything from bingo to Zumba, and there are regular productions at the village hall from the Rackheath Players.

At the Holy Trinity church, home to local groups and gatherings, there'll be a Church Christmas Fayre this Saturday. Don't miss the Carols by Candlelight on Christmas Eve in the beautiful Old Rackheath church; now in the care of the Norfolk Churches Trust, the church is the perfect place to celebrate a very local Christmas.

Click here to find out more about the Shop Local This Christmas campaign.