Nine great spots for a picnic in Norfolk and North Suffolk this summer
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Whether you decide to picnic on the beach, beside the Broads or in the depths of a forest, eating al fresco is one of the joys of summer. Here are nine top places to eat out.
Wroxham and Hoveton
Known as the gateway to the Broads, Wroxham and its neighbouring village Hoveton might be just a few miles from Norwich, but have a completely different atmosphere, and a host of visitor attractions, from boats and a riverside park to Wroxham Barns craft centre.
The grassy Wroxham Broad picnic area is ideal for watching birds and boats, and there are also plenty of benches in the town centre, by the waterside. Be aware that some of the waterfowl might be very interested in your picnic - when I visited last summer, my family found a bench close to the water's edge, but we beat a hasty retreat when some swans advanced on us, eyeing our sandwiches with determination!
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Bure Park, Great Yarmouth
If you're visiting Great Yarmouth, a picnic on the beach is always highly enjoyable. However, an alternative is to go to the 20-acre Bure Park, on Caister Road, bordering the River Bure.
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The park has a children's playground and an 18-hole pitch and putt golf course as well as a lake with wildfowl, and there are walks to enjoy. A picnic area is laid out with seating.
The golden sands of the north Norfolk coast make this area, managed by the National Trust, the perfect place to enjoy an impromptu lunch or snack. Walk along the Norfolk Coast Path to take in the wonderful views of the coastline and the salt marshes.
You are likely to see a variety of wildlife in the Scolt Head Island nature reserve, while the Roman monument Branodunum is also now rich in wildlife, including skylarks. Kite surfing is popular on the beach.
Holt Country Park
Visitors to this tranquil country park can explore almost 100 acres of woodland, on the edge of the Norfolk Coast Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
As well as spectacular displays of flowers, you can also see wildlife ranging from butterflies to dragonflies and damselflies, deer and a variety of wild birds. The park has a visitor centre and waymarked paths which are accessible to wheelchairs and pushchairs.
A play area and wooden sculptures add to the fun for children. There are a number of picnic tables close to the play area, and a couple of tables with a roof near the car park, so you can eat your picnic undercover if the weather does not hold.
Whitlingham Country Park, Trowse, near Norwich
Just a couple of miles from Norwich city centre, this country park within the Broads National Park is perfect for walking and cycling. There is also a visitor centre, with touch screens which will help you to learn more about the wildlife of the Broads.
You can take a guided trip on the solar boat Ra, a journey lasting around 50 minutes, to see the wildlife of the area close up. There is a picnic site, and light refreshments are also available to buy.
Covehithe Beach, near Kessingland
This north Suffolk beach can only be reached by foot or bicycle, but is well worth discovering, and was included in one list of the UK's top 10 picnic spots. It feels very remote, surrounded by cliffs, the terrain is unsuitable for pushchairs and there are no tourist facilities, but there is lots of sand, and the wild atmosphere will really inspire your imagination.
Nearby Kessingland also offers a quieter beach alternative to nearby Lowestoft and Southwold, with all of these areas offering many great picnic opportunities.
Exploring the UK's largest man-made lowland forest makes for a great day out, Many people visit to go walking or running along the forest trails, while other activities include mountain biking, horse riding and Cani-X, which is running with a dog attached!
The WildPlay area at the High Lodge centre has a wide range of play equipment for the full age range, including a Toddler Tower. More adventurous visitors might also want to book a session amid the tree tops at Go Ape.
There are 35 picnic benches and tables around High Lodge, close to the parking areas. It's also possible to book barbecues online, up to three months ahead. There are also catering outlets for both hot and cold food.
You will need to travel about a mile out of the picturesque north Norfolk village of Cley-next-the-Sea to get to the beach, which is mostly shingle. It's possible to drive to the quiet pebble beach, where you can set off along the coastal path.
The historic village is also fascinating to explore, with its 18th-century windmill and selection of unusual independent shops. The Cley Marshes nature reserve draws a range of wildfowl and waders and also has a good visitor centre.
If you fancy hot food beside the sea, Cley is one of several north Norfolk beaches which has a designated barbecue zone. Others include Cromer, Mundesley, Overstrand and Sheringham East and West Beaches. There is a full list and maps on the North Norfolk council website.
Sandringham Country Park
Wander through the woodland and explore the nature trails in this beautiful 600-acre haven, which is part of the Queen's Sandringham estate. There are many tree-lined paths and designated picnic areas with tables and benches.
Children will enjoy the adventure play area, with more than 30 pieces of equipment, and the sculpture trail. There are shops and restaurants available on the site.
You may also decide to visit the house and gardens, which are open daily until October, with a lot to see including the ground-floor rooms, regularly used by the royal family, and a collection of vintage royal vehicles.