Car-free adventures aroundWest NorfolkNorfolk

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West Norfolk is sometimes overlooked by tourists racing for the Norfolk coast and the Broads. But King’s Lynn and the other towns, villages and countryside nearby are packed with rich heritage and unique wildlife. And you can reach most of the area without a car, taking a beautiful journey by train, bus, bike, foot or even leisurely sailing! Here are just a few of the great car-free adventures you can have in West Norfolk.

  • County: Norfolk
  • Great for: beaches | bird watching | food and drink | history | lavender | riverside walks | wildlife |
  • Refreshments: lots of fabulous restaurants, pubs and cafes
  • Please note: researched/updated June 2023. If anything’s changed or you have tips to share, do get in touch: features@goodjourney.org.uk
  1. 3. Adventures around King's Lynn

    A wildlife park, where Europe’s most varied herds of deer and antelope roam free across acres of grassland, is just a short bus ride from King’s Lynn bus station. You can reach bracken-carpeted woods, riverside walks, fields of lavender or summer poppies, heather-covered commons and a towering Norman castle.

    • Book ahead to visit Watatunga wildlife reserve, which is pioneering sustainable tourism experiences with some extraordinary birds and animals ranging through 170 acres of countryside. Safari tours in self-drive electric buggies give visitors the chance to see the animals grazing, drinking from the lakes, or wandering through the woods. Watatunga also has programmes to breed endangered species like the iconic great bustard, earth’s heaviest flying bird, which was hunted to extinction in the UK nearly two centuries ago.
    • How do I get to Watatunga car-free? If you arrive by bike or on foot, you could get a 20% discount – just follow Good Journey’s directions. Alternatively, bus 37 from King’s Lynn to Downham Market leaves hourly from outside King’s Lynn railway station (not Sundays) and stops, 15 minutes later, at Lynn Road opposite the Andel Hotel, a half-mile roadside walk from Watatunga.
    • Bus 37 also stops in the village of Setchey near the River Nar, where you can join the wide-skied Nar Valley Way. You can walk eight miles from here to Narborough, past lakes and trees, an old Augustinian Priory and a former bone mill. Or hike the whole 13 miles from King’s Lynn if you’re feeling really energetic.
    • How do I get back from Narborough to King’s Lynn? Excel buses B and C run every half hour back to Kings Lynn. Look out for fields of tulips as the bus goes through East Winch in the spring! From Norwich, you can catch the Excel buses to Narborough and walk to King’s Lynn.
    • The late Norman keep towering over the village of Castle Rising is one of the most impressive of its kind in England. Look outside Castle Rising church at the ornate west front and inside at the arches and the carved faces on the font. Castle Rising castle’s huge grassy ramparts and maze of spiral stairs are close to woods and commons with gnarled oaks and elegant silver birches and there are tea shops nearby too.
    • How do I get to Castle Rising by bus? Buses 34, 35 and 36 from King’s Lynn to Hunstanton stop every fifteen minutes between them (half-hourly on Sundays) at Mill House turn on the A149. Walk a few steps back beside the main road and you’ll soon come to a grassy path, forking diagonally right. Follow this path through trees to reach the village of Castle Rising and turn right to visit the castle.
  1. 4. Striped cliffs at Hunstanton and more

    Hunstanton, with its distinctive white-and-orange cliffs is just a bus ride away. There are miles of sand, perfect for strolling or building castles, with coastal cafes, beach huts, pubs and all kinds of activities. At low tide, a huge area of stones and mussel-crusted rock pools is exposed, perfect territory for oystercatchers, plovers and other seabirds.

    • There’s plenty for everyone to do in Hunstanton: fairground rides, amusement arcades, a sea life centre and Alive Oasis swimming pool. To get to Alive Oasis, without a car, just walk from the Tesco bus stop or bus station in Hunstanton. Alive Oasis also has a Tourist Information Point near its café area with lots of visitor information that you can take away.
    • How do I get to Hunstanton without a car? Between King’s Lynn and seaside Hunstanton, Lynx buses 34, 35 and 36 run every fifteen minutes. It’s a lovely journey through the flowering woods near the Sandringham Estate and there are plenty of things to see along the way.
    • Norfolk Lavender distils the fragrant purple herb into essential oils to make soaps, balms, bath oils, and even gin. You can visit the fields for free as well as the herb garden, shop and café and, for an extra fee, you can tour the distillery too. Visit in the summer to get the best views of the flowering lavender, but the site is open all year round.
    • How do I get to Norfolk Lavender by bus? The buses turn off the main road to loop through the seaside village of Heacham. Bus 34 and 36, stop on Hunstanton Road, about ten minutes’ stroll from the lavender farm. Bus 35, which also detours via the Sandringham Estate on the way, stops at Ringstead Road, just a couple of minutes’ walk away.
  1. 5. And on along the coast...

    For great food, peaceful walks and sometimes top-deck views, catch Coastliner bus 36 and explore the north-west corner of Norfolk. Wildlife lovers will find it particularly rewarding to go on along the west Norfolk coast. In summer there are red fields of poppies outside the bus windows. The dunes and marshes, often purple with sea lavender, are alive with waders and waterbirds; the sea breeze will blow the cobwebs away and the wide skies restore a sense of perspective.

    • Bus 36 goes on from Hunstanton to Thornham and the Burnhams with lots of great places to eat, drink and access the saltmarsh-fringed Norfolk coast. Here are just a few of them.
    • For refreshments and a wander through the apple trees, get off at Drove Orchards farm shop. Here you can find apple juice and cider, pressed on the farm, as well as all kinds of other local produce: creamy cheeses, raspberries, asparagus, spices, biscuits, meringues… Watch out for swallows nesting above the security camera in summer and perching on the bunting!
    • Next door to the farm shop, Eric’s Fish and Chips has an indoor restaurant and tables outside among the trees or by the playground. Among the surrounding businesses, you can find everything from an art gallery to a plant nursery – useful for souvenirs at the end of your trip.
    • To walk from the farm into the village of Thornham, simply cross  the road and follow the signed permissive path, with the hedge on your left, until you reach the village. Don’t miss the painted screen inside Thornham’s All Saints Church, a medieval artwork with sixteen colourful saints and prophets.
    • Fifteen minutes further on by bus, Deepdale has private self-catering rooms of various sizes and an eco-friendly campsite. With a bus stop outside and 10% off for car-free guests, it’s an ideal, affordable base for exploring the coast and there’s a Visitor information Centre on-site too.
    • Holkham, twenty minutes further on bus 36 from Deepdale, makes a popular day out and you can rent bikes for more car-free adventures. Holkham’s historic hall, deer park, restored walled garden, and the endless sandy beach fringed with dunes and pine trees are all a short walk from the Victoria bus stop and give car-free visitors a 30% discount. See Good Journey’s directions.
    • From Norwich, you can get to Holkham by bus via Fakenham (with a stop off in Fakenham between buses to visit the cafes). Take the X29 from Norwich to Fakenham and the Coastliner 36 bus from there. The whole trip takes at least a couple of hours, but is really beautiful, passing through Great Walsingham with views of the historic churches and abbey there.
    • The Victoria at Holkham is an elegant pub with rooms and a menu that serves up beef and veg from the estate, fish caught nearby, cheese and butter from the Fen Farm dairy, and other local culinary treasures.
    • For cakes, snacks and locally-roasted coffee, sweet potato falafels or fruity, wraperless ice lollies, stroll down Lady Anne’s drive towards the beach. The Lookout cafe, opened in 2018, was specially designed to fit into the nature reserve outside and all packaging is compostable. There are birds nesting in the eaves, telescopes for watching the marshes, home to sandpipers and lapwings. So you can cool down with chilled elderflower or warm up with hot chocolate while you look out for snow buntings or summer swallows circle round your head before the leisurely bus journey back to King’s Lynn.
    • Exploring West Norfolk without driving helps to protect the delicate natural environments that make this area so beautiful. For more examples of walking and cycling trails around the area, visit the Explore West Norfolk website (and its free apps).

    Discover more car-free adventures and discounts at attractions around Norfolk – the UK’s first Good Journey County.