North Walsham- Surprising Mix
PUBLISHED: 09:45 17 March 2010 | UPDATED: 16:54 20 February 2013
It may not be next to the sea like its near north Norfolk neighbours Cromer, Mundesley and Sheringham, but the medieval market town of North Walsham has plenty to offer. Ed Foss looked at the town's past, present and future.
It may not be next to the sea like its near north Norfolk neighbours Cromer, Mundesley and Sheringham, but the medieval market town of North Walsham has plenty to offer. Ed Foss looked at the towns past, present and future.
Pictures: Colin Finch
The Bittern Line
A cracking service from city to coast, the railway running through North Walsham is well used by tourists and workers alike. The 30 miles or so of award-winning line serves a number of towns and villages. Walking fans should check the Bittern Line website for suggested walks linked in with the various stops, but not much beats hooking up with Weavers Way. This can be done at North Walsham and Cromer.
A wonderfully eclectic, curious street side museum a few yards from the town centre. Old signage, amazing pottery cats and the chance for a really pleasant and very different hour or so spent browsing.
Food and drink
The Beechwood and Divine are two of north Norfolks best established eateries perhaps not what one would expect in North Walsham. As a pair they offer two very different experiences, with excellent contemporary food the common factor. While the well established Beechwood is distinctly more formal and aimed mainly at the grey market, the younger generation also treat it as a place for a special occasion.
Lovely hotel rooms carefully decorated in individual style promise a memorable break. Remember to ask about the Agatha Christie link.
Divine is a younger, more thrusting business which has quickly built a loyal and deserved following.
The attractive Olive Tree at Norfolk Park Homes is a very new venture which has got tongues wagging in town and looks set to make an excellent name for itself in a short space of time.
There are also plenty of other options. Try the Cockerel tearoom and restaurant on North Street, which is open from morning until mid evening, except at weekends when it shuts later, with a short day on Sunday.
The summer half term was one to remember for North Walsham. More than 50 hippos, decorated by schools, charities, shops and other organisations, thundered into town for a charity event.
Thousands of pounds were raised for local charities and the internationally important Born Free Foundation.
More to the point it was lots of fun and there have been a few murmurings about what type of animal might make an appearance next year, although nothing has yet been arranged.
The Norfolk Motorcycle Museum
Up near the railway station you will find dozens of motorbikes, many from the period between the 1920s and 1960s. It may sound like a geeks paradise, but with reasonable admission and the input of the knowledgeable Harmers, the father and son who run the museum, its most definitely worth a look.
The specialist sixth form college has dominated the town in many ways across the years. Its split, town centre site has educated thousands of youngsters both in its current college form, which has existed for 25 years, and in various forms as a centre of learning, which has existed since 1606. Lord Nelson is among the alumni.
Over recent years especially it has gained an excellent reputation backed up by a superb Ofsted report in 2008. Plans to relocate to an edge of town site near the Victory swimming pool have yet to come to fruition, but are still in the melting pot.
As childrens activity centres go, Run Wild is pretty straightforward, but that is exactly why it is so popular.
Scramble nets, a slide and crawl-through tubes are among the delights in the main area, with a play room for the smaller children.
A games room with a pool table and air hockey table, plus a cafe help complete the offerings. Play parties work well for all sorts of ages.
St Nicholas Parish Church and its ruined tower
A truly magnificent, busy and friendly church right at the edge of the Market Place and away from the hustle and bustle.
With its ruined tower, tomb of Sir William Paston and an audio trail to guide you round, its a gentle break from the hurly burly.
The main service is a parish communion on a Sunday at 10am, with associated worship and activities for the younger ones.
The array of North Walsham shops will probably come as a surprise to some people. A tack shop, a hobby shop and a very old fashioned sweet and tobacco shop help with the mix.
But a couple of favourites must be the Showcase Gallery, which does what it says on the tin for Norfolk artists and craftspeople, and Papillon Gifts, which can turn up some welcome surprises when hunting for that elusive birthday present.
Based at nearby Scottow, North Walsham Vikings is a busy rugby club which has long been Norfolks leading light in the rugby world.
Although not at its relatively recent heights in terms of its mens first team, the club continues to enjoy notable success through its learning centre, age group teams, mini rugby side, womens team and high quality national sevens tournament, which is coming up for the 12th time in May.