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Ten great reasons to visit Aylsham

PUBLISHED: 11:40 16 May 2013 | UPDATED: 11:40 16 May 2013

Marriotts Way cycle path

Marriotts Way cycle path

Archant

Aylsham’s farmers’ market is one of the best known in the county and transforms the historic market place into a hive of activity. It is held the first Saturday of every month between 9am and 1pm. With stalls and local growers selling everything from lamb, pork, free-range chicken, duck and sausages to fruit and vegetables, cakes, honey and eggs, you can stock up for the week.

Just over a mile from Aylsham is the magnificent Blickling Estate dating back to the 16th century. Run by the National Trust, the stunning hall, once the home of Anne Boleyn, is surrounded by picturesque landscaped grounds, ornate gardens, quaint old buildings and a lake. There is also a lovely gift shop, plant and garden centre and café. Blickling Hall, Blickling, NR11 6NF; 01263 738030.

The Bure Valley Railway runs between the town and Wroxham, through pretty villages and countryside along the way. Catch either the steam or diesel train on the 15in gauge railway, and sit back and enjoy the 18-mile round journey. During the year, there are lots of special trips and events; it’s the perfect day out for the family.

See www.bvrw.co.uk for timetable details.

There are plenty of independent shops in Aylsham, from places to buy day to day necessities to lots of lovely shops to go for a treat, such as Lisa Dawson Interiors, chocolate boutique Carousel Chocolate, traditional toy shop Boxes and Bags of Fun, Tumbleweed Gift Shop, Altair Astro Astronomy Equipment and Blossom and Green boutique.

A trip to Aylsham wouldn’t be the same without enjoying one of the town’s famous auctions. Keys runs a weekly country sale every Monday, between 10am and 1.30pm, selling everything from garden produce and vehicles to Victorian and 20th century furniture and books. It is a lot of fun and you never know, you might grab a bargain! There are other specialist auctions on different days as well. To get more information, see Keys, 8 Market Place, Aylsham, NR11 6EH, 01263 733195.

Aylsham is surrounded by fantastic paths for cycling and walking, linking it with surrounding towns and villages. The Bure Valley cycle and footpath runs the length of the railway to Wroxham, and Marriotts Way will take you to Reepham. It is a great way to explore the area whether you want a casual stroll or a more demanding longer walk or bike ride.

The Aylsham Heritage Centre in the old church rooms in the grounds of St Michael’s Church is open to the public to learn more about the town’s history, as well as being a space for exhibitions and events. The centre is closed over New Year, but will reopen on February 18 with an exhibition about Aylsham during the first and second world wars at Aylsham Heritage Centre, Market Place, NR11 6EH; 07919962814

The town and surrounding area are full of nice cafes, pubs and restaurants with a real commitment to local, seasonal produce. In the town centre itself, there’s a great choice of pubs and several cafes. In the nearby village of Erpingham, the Erpingham Arms is very popular and the Buckinghamshire Arms in the shadow of Blickling Hall has long been a favourite with both locals and visitors.

Just a short drive from Aylsham is Alby Crafts and Gardens, a collection of shops, local artists’ studios, craft workshops and a café. It is set in four acres of pretty gardens and well worth a visit. Alby Crafts and Gardens, Cromer Rd, NR11 7QE, 01263 761590.

Since 2004, Aylsham has been an active member of the groundbreaking Slow Food Initiative, started in Italy by food activist Carlo Petrini. All local producers and associated businesses are invited to be members and it has become a vital part of the community, culminating in the annual Aylsham Food Festival.

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