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Norfolk days out you can really trust in

PUBLISHED: 17:10 08 June 2012

Rhododendrons in full bloom at Sheringham Park

Rhododendrons in full bloom at Sheringham Park

© ARCHANT NORFOLK 2012

This region blessed with a treasure trove of incredible National Trust properties, offering a fascinating glimpse into the past. STACIA BRIGGS finds out what's on offer this month, from ferry trips to tern colonies, open-air theatre to creatures of the night.

BLAKENEY NATURE RESERVE

Wide-open spaces and uninterrupted views of the natural and dynamic coastline of Norfolk make a trip to Blakeney National Nature Reserve inspiring at any time of year.

The moving tides, covering saltmarsh or exposing the harbour, combined with the varying lights of Norfolk’s big skies, create an ever-changing scene while Blakeney Point, a three-mile-long sand and shingle spit, is a paradise for all kinds of wildlife.

On June 23, the reserve’s knowledgeable coastal warden will be hosting a bird-watching walk and ferry boat trip to see the tern colony on Blakeney Point (£12, £8 children, pre-book on 0844 2491895).

A must for any bird watcher or keen beginner, the event will include a guided two-mile, hour-long tour of the National Nature Reserve where you can learn about the nesting, breeding and habitats of the birds and the surrounding wildlife and conservation activity.

www.nationaltrust.org.uk/blakeney

BLICKING HALL

Blickling has been at the heart of its north Norfolk community since the 16th century and is one of the most imposing and complete country estates in the county.

A treasure trove of romantic buildings, beautiful gardens and a landscaped park, catch a glimpse into the lives of those who lived and worked above and below stairs, see the stunning parterre created by socialite Norah Lindsay in the 1930s, find peace in the orangery garden or woodland wilderness and discover more than 400 years of fascinating history.

Enjoy a stroll through the historic parkland with a volunteer on Sunday at 2pm, while on June 13, 24 and 27 join the costumed interpretation team to bring history to life.

On June 21, the head warden of Blickling Hall will be leading a cycle ride around the park at 6pm (£5, pre-book on 01263 738030).

The Lord Chamberlain’s Men will be performing Macbeth on Blickling’s front drive at 7pm on June 16 (£14.50, £8 children, pre-book on 01263 738030).

Blickling’s Spring Fair is on June 17, with plenty of food stalls, arts and crafts, children’s activities, history alive and much more while on June 18 to July 15, there’s a sculpture trail around the park. Normal admission rates apply for all events.

www.nationaltrust.org.uk/blickling

OXBURGH HALL

Built by the Bedingfeld family in the 15th century, Oxburgh is a romantic, moated manor house complete with a secret priest’s hole that you can crawl through.

See the astonishing needlework by Mary Queen of Scots, the private chapel built with reclaimed materials, enjoy panoramic views from the gatehouse roof, follow woodcarving trails in the gardens and woodlands and explore the secret doors within the hall.

Oxburgh Hall shares a special anniversary with the Queen: 1952 was the year Elizabeth II took the crown and was also the year that Oxburgh was given to the National Trust. A special display at the hall explores these themes until June 13.

Tonight the Norfolk Dixieland Jazz Band will be hosting a razzamatazz evening in front of the hall. Bring your own rugs and chairs (£10, £5 children, pre-book on 01366 328258).

Local beekeepers will be giving a live demonstration using an observation hive tomorrow and Sunday from 12pm -4pm. There will be various activities on offer, including a bee trail in the house and garden for younger children.

June 16-17 (11am-4pm on both days), will be a Boys and Their Toys Weekend to coincide with Father’s Day, complete with displays by various model clubs.

On June 21, The Lord Chamberlain’s Men bring Macbeth to Oxburgh. Gates open at 6pm and booking is essential on 01366 328242.

www.nationaltrust.org.uk/oxburghhall

SHERINGHAM PARK

Wander through Sheringham Park and you’ll quickly discover why it became the personal favourite of its designer, Humphry Repton.

Famous for its vast collection of rhododendrons and azaleas, today you can climb to the top of towers to experience breathtaking views of this beautiful landscape.

Enjoy woodland walks, listen to the song of the skylark by the cliffs, spot white admiral butterflies throughout summer and visit in the autumn for spectacular foliage.

Join the Incredible Insect Half-Term Trail (£2) this weekend 10am-4.15pm: follow the trail to discover amazing facts about the six-legged creatures that inhabit the park and solve clues to win a prize.

There’s a fantastic chance to see Sheringham Park at night at the Creatures of the Night event on June 14, 8.30pm-11pm. Join learning officer Rob to explore the park at dusk and hopefully spot one or more of the three species of deer that have been recorded at Sheringham and the bats that make the park their home (£5.75, pre-book on 01263 820550).

Take a guided walk to discover the fascinating history of Sheringham Park on June 17 from 2pm. Learn about the Upcher family who owned the estate from 1811 and landscape architect Humphry Repton who designed the park 200 years ago (£2, children free).

Other events this month include Wildflower Walks on June 27 and 30 at 2pm, where you can take a walk with head gardener Graham to discover the wide variety of wild flowers supported by the coastal habitat (£5 per person), Open Air Theatre’s production of The Importance of Being Ernest (£7.50 children) and a Bumble Bee Workshop on June 23 led by Dr Nick Owens (£20, pre-book on 01263 820550).

www.nationaltrust.org.uk/sheringham-park

FURTHER AFIELD

ICKWORTH HOUSE

Explore acres of space, woodland, wildlife and a stunning architectural oddity at this remarkable National Trust property at Horringer, close to Bury St Edmunds. See how one eccentric man’s passion for Italy and partying led to the creation of an incredible home, its renowned collection and one of England’s finest Italianate gardens.

Experience the real stories of the people who lived and worked at Ickworth in the 1930s on June 17 (11am-5pm, normal admission) at a Living History event where you can follow in the footsteps of Mr Collins the butler, Mrs Sangster the cook, the hall boys, kitchen maids and gardeners at the house. The event is open from 11am to 5pm and normal admission prices apply.

A guided parkland walk will be held on June 17 at 2pm, taking in the rotunda, church, walled garden and canal lake with a fun history of the park and a look at the eccentric Hervey family.

www.nationaltrust.org.uk/ickworth

DUNWICH HEATH

Tucked away on the Suffolk coast, Dunwich Heath offers you peace and quiet and a true sense of being at one with nature. Home to special species such as the Dartford warbler, nightjar, woodlark, ant-lion and adders, the heath is an inspiring place to visit, especially during the summer months when it is a patchwork of pink and purple heather and coconut-scented yellow gorse.

Partake in some Midsummer Madness on June 24, 2pm at Dunwich Heath: watch the Barley Brigg Morris Dancers and listen to music by Leiston Middle School Brass Band and Choir. On June 20 and July 4, nightjar walks will be held from 9pm (£5, pre-book on 01728 648501).

www.nationaltrust.org.uk/dunwich-heath

SUTTON HOO

This spectacularly beautiful 255-acre estate near Woodbridge, with far-reaching views over the river Deben, is home to one of the greatest archaeological discoveries of all time. Walk around the ancient burial mounds and discover the incredible story of the ship burial of an Anglo-Saxon king and his treasured possessions.

On Father’s Day, June 17, Boys and Their Toys (11am to 5pm) will showcase an array of toys from through the ages while on the summer solstice, June 21, join Dr Sam Newton from Time Team for a sunset tour of the burial mounds and a two-course supper in the café (£28, pre-book on 01394 389714).

On June 23 and 24 (10.30am-5pm), Sutton Hoo will be celebrating a decade since the site was gifted to the National Trust. Visit the encampment, see how the Anglo-Saxons lived, watch craftsmen at work and visit Mrs Pretty’s house which has been transported back to 1939.

www.nationaltrust.org.uk/suttonhoo

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