North Norfolk Digital Guide
North Norfolk Countryside
At the western edge of North Norfolk District, Fakenham is an important market town and a vital crossroads for visitors from the Midlands, Breckland and Suffolk. It is also a major industrial centre for the District, well-placed on the main A148 road from North Norfolk to the rest of the UK. The Corn Hall and flea market have been important local trading centres for 140 years, and Fakenham's livestock market, in its 1920s heyday when rail links were excellent, was one of the most important in Britain. As the rail links died, so did the livestock trading - but Fakenham found new income from auctions and markets, which are just as important to the town's livelihood now as they were then.
Sitting on the National Cycle Network in a gently rolling landscape, and 10 miles south of the pretty coast around Wells-next-the-Sea, Fakenham's attractions are man-made as well as natural. It is the home of Fakenham Racecourse, one of the finest rural National Hunt courses in the country. Frequent meetings are held from February to December. Pensthorpe Waterfowl Park, home to one of Europe's finest collection of endangered and exotic waterbirds is located in the beautiful Wensum Valley on the edge of town. This and many other attractions, and accommodation of all types to be found in and around Fakenham, make this market town a good base for exploring North Norfolk whatever time of the year.
The historic Georgian town of Holt, with a superb collection of fine buildings at its heart, is surrounded by woodland and parkland areas. It is a haven for artists, photographers, walkers and riders. Holt is a town for all seasons, from the annual Christmas Festival early in December to the Summer Fair in July. The town has won the Anglia in Bloom Small Country Town category many times, and the Best Kept Village competition on several occasions.
In May 1708 there was a disastrous fire which transformed the face of the town. It was said that the fire spread with such rapidity that the butcher did not even have time to rescue the meat from their stall. The town was rebuilt, replacing the large number of properties destroyed, leaving a legacy of many fine Georgian buildings.
Today, bookshops, galleries, antique and bric-a-brac shops, along with restaurants and eating-places, abound in the many alleyways and courtyards that give the town a character of its own.
On the edge of town lies Holt Country Park, an area of more than 100 acres of woodland. With free car parking, picnic areas, nature trails and an adventure playground for the children, it's an ideal spot for families.
North Walsham has long been an important centre of population and trade in North Norfolk. Established in Anglo-Saxon times, it became a centre for weaving along with the nearby village of Worstead. The wealth generated enabled the local people to build St. Nicholas Church, which dates back to 1330. The 16th century market cross is the focal point of the town. Lord Nelson spent his schooldays at The Paston School.
Although the town is now home to some of the District's biggest manufacturing companies, the town is nonetheless rich in historic buildings, and set just minutes from the Broads in one direction and the sea in another.