Car-free trips toNorfolk vineyards and breweriesNorfolk
With a dozen fruitful vineyards and more than thirty real ale breweries, Norfolk is a paradise for those of us who appreciate a finely-crafted drink. Many of the vineyards and breweries run tours and tastings, serve food and have created a great atmosphere for sampling their products. Why not get there without a car, turning the visit into an adventure with no need to worry about driving? These rural routes to vineyards and breweries make for a great day out.
1. Flint Vineyard
Deep in the gently-rolling fields of the Waveney valley near the border with Suffolk, the beautiful Flint vineyard amply rewards an expedition. The couple of miles’ walk from the characterful town of Bungay, with its carved churches and towered castle, can be an excellent way to work up an appetite for the vineyard’s 15 Mile Lunch.
- These sharing boards of local produce from within a 15 mile radius can include creamy Baron Bigod brie from the nearby Fen Farm Dairy, salami from the Marsh Pig at Claxton and medlar jelly from the Eastgate Larder. It’s all served up with artisanal bread and a glass or sparkling pink Charmat Rosé on elegantly-laid garden tables with views across rows of vines and the wide green of the valley.
- Take a self-guided walk around the vineyards with their different aspects and varieties. Drop in to the shop and tasting room, Monday to Saturday, or book ahead for lunch and a friendly tour of the vineyard’s processes. You can find out about everything from pruning and harvesting to winemaking and bottling, followed by a seriously enjoyable guided tasting.
- Sounds great! How do I get to Flint vineyard without a car? The nearest public transport is bus 581 from Beccles to Diss, which stops a mile away at the Queen’s Head pub in Earsham.
- A longer, but hugely rewarding route is to get bus 41 or bus X41 from St Stephens Street (stop BR) in Norwich to the colourful town of Bungay in Suffolk and continue on foot. The scenic bus journey takes about 40 minutes. Get off at Holy Trinity church, walk past St Mary’s and Bungay castle. Then follow this map for an hour or so’s rural stroll to the vineyard, passing the Queen’s Head pub.
2. Chet Valley Vineyard
There’s another rural adventure among the vines at the Chet Valley vineyard near Loddon. You can take a tour to learn about the complicated multi-stage business of making Champagne-style sparkling wine, have a tasting overlooking the vines and even stay in the Vine House holiday cottage. Between the vines, the grass is allowed to grow long for most of the summer, providing habitat for small mammals, insects and ground-nesting birds.
How do I get to Chet Valley vineyard without a car? From Norwich, catch bus X2, X21 or X22 from Norwich bus station (stop E) towards Beccles and Lowstoft. Get off, after about 15 minutes at the George and Dragon pub in Thurton and follow this map.