I love the seaside. I love the fresh air, the calming sound of the waves on the shore, the energising feeling of a dip in the sea and that weird kind of drowsiness that you only get after a day on the beach.
It’s just a shame I only realised quite how much I love the beach after I moved to a city that’s about as far away from the sea as it’s possible to get in England.
Still, undeterred, I decided we must make the most of the sunshine last weekend by going to the beach. Opting not to join the crowds in Skegness, I decided a trip to Holkham in Norfolk was on the cards. I’d never been there before but on paper, well, on AA route planner, it was only an extra 40 minutes further than Skeggy and looked a whole lot nicer.
The beach is part of the Holkham estate which is owned by one of the richest families in Britain and has a very cool website with lots of idyllic pictures of vast open sands so, with those in mind we set off on our journey. Maybe it was foolish to attempt such a road trip on what was likely to be the last sunny weekend of the summer but, just over four hours later (it was meant to take just over three) we arrived.
Except, we weren’t really sure we had arrived. Had it not been for the signposts and the queues of cars parking up we might have doubted our sat-nav, because there was no sea in sight. It’s only once you’ve walked for a good half a mile that you realise just why this place is so popular.
At the far edge of the vast car park is a pine forest and it was as we followed the winding wooden boardwalk through it that we realised we were on to something special. The smell of the pines in the heat instantly brought back memories of foreign holidays and it was hard to believe we were only in Norfolk.
As we made our way through the welcome shade of the trees we got our first glimpse of the sea. Glistening in the sunshine, it looked perfect for a cooling paddle, but before we could dip our toes in there was the small matter of getting across the beach.
It is no exaggeration to say that this was the biggest beach I have ever seen. The sand stretches for miles either side and even walking in a straight line from the wood to the sea must have been a distance of almost a mile. The view from the trees is breath-taking.
Ten minutes later we made it to our perfect picnic spot where we set up camp for the next three hours, making sandcastles (purely to keep my eight-year-old sister-in-law Isabelle entertained obviously) and enjoying the occasional dip in the sea.
The only downside is the lack of shade or any kind of shop or toilet facilities, which makes staying for more than a few hours difficult, but then the beauty of Holkham is its hidden charm. There may have been hundreds of other people on the beach that day but I still felt like part of a rather privileged, lucky bunch. The effort required to get there was more than repaid by being able to enjoy such a beautiful beach for the afternoon.
I’m still not convinced it has quite the same charm as the beaches close to where I grew up in Aldeburgh and Thorpeness but it certainly won over Isabelle who within minutes of being there had declared “This is the best beach ever! I want to come here every day!”
If it wasn’t for the seven hour round trip I probably would too.