In: Blakeney

22nd December 2013

Exciting plans for 2014

2013 has been a very busy and enjoyable year for us at Cranmer Cottages.

Snowfall  at Cranmer in early 2013

The early winter months brought plenty of snow, the whole area looked picture perfect and very tranquil.
When spring arrived, we enjoyed an abundance of snowdrops, crocus, bluebells and daffodils. The countryside was literally peppered with a good splash of colour. Guests enjoyed the spectacular snowdrop walks at Walsingham and there were plenty of Easter events planned locally for families to attend.
Then along came summer and for the first time since 2006, we enjoyed record high temperatures and long, sunny days. Our guests spent their days on nearby sandy beaches and evenings outside playing family games in our large paddock area where children also enjoyed our brand new play area.
The summer extended into the early Autumn months and now we’re in mid December we’re looking forward to the New Year ahead.

Late Summer Sunshine Near Holkham

We’ve got a few exciting things to look forward to in 2014 which we’ve been planning over the past few months.
Firstly, we are delighted to launch our one-hour, on-site farm/ nature walk. This walk is only available for our guests and gives an exclusive opportunity to view our fabulous countryside and get up close and personal to the local nature. We have even created a trail quiz to encourage our young visitors to learn more about the great outdoors and the amazing wildlife we have.
We’ve also teamed up with Pensthorpe Wildlife and Gardens who have kindly agreed to offer our guests a discounted family ticket. For those who haven’t heard of Pensthorpe before, it is an award winning wildlife and conservation reserve that offers something for all ages. The reserve is bustling with birds and wildlife throughout the year, so it’s perfect for birdwatchers and nature lovers. There are also a lot of exciting activities and things to see for families, including their brand new play area, Wild Rootz, which is definitely a winner with the children.
During January, we will be carrying out some refurbishing work on our cottages. We’ll be sharing details of the work we’re doing on our Facebook Page over the next few weeks, so remember to head over and ‘Like Us’ to receive our updates.
Being an eco friendly tourism business, we have worked very hard over the last few years to lower our carbon footprint. On site, we already have a wind turbine and solar panels, which heat and power some of our facilities, but we took a giant leap this year and installed a 100kw biomass boiler. This biomass boiler now means that, other than using a little gas for cooking, we can turn our backs to nasty fossil fuels that we’ve previously had to use. The biomass boiler is fuelled by recycled woodchip, which would otherwise go to landfill. We can now proudly say that our self catering cottages are now ‘powered by nature and nurtured by us’
Rescued Grey Seal Pup
Finally, we’d like to make you aware of a visitor payback scheme, which we’ve just introduced in the wake of the recent floods that affected the seal colonies at Blakeney. We are asking all visitors who book a break with us to make a voluntary donation of £1, which we will match fund, to go towards the RSPCA East Winch branch. This charity is specifically dedicated to rescuing seal pups in the area and rehabilitating them back into the wild. Blakeney is home to large colonies of Grey and Common seals, who breed and bring up their young throughout the year. It really is a magnificent sight to see and one that shouldn’t be missed when you visit the area.
If you book your break and would like to make a donation, simply tick the box on your booking form which says ‘Visitor Payback Scheme’ and our online system will do the rest for you. We will update our website with details on the progress of this scheme over the coming months.
North Norfolkreally does offer something for everyone. From coast to countryside, it is brimming with quaint market towns, extraordinary wildlife, superb visitor attractions and an indulgent selection of places to eat. Once you visit you’ll be itching to come back. Our self-catering cottages are already booking up fast for next summer, so if you don’t want to miss out check our availability and book your holiday now. 
We’d like to take this opportunity to thank you for your support throughout 2013 and we hope you have a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.
Best wishes,
The team at Cranmer Cottages.
Being situated in North Norfolk, we are extremely lucky to have a number of nature reserves nearby, making our holiday cottages the perfect destination for nature lovers. We also know that the autumn and winter months are an excellent time to visit the reserves, especially for keen bird watchers. Not only do we have a great variety of resident birds including Marsh Harriers, Bitterns, Avocets and Oyster Catchers, the reserves also become packed with winter migrants including Brent and Pink Footed Geese, the Black-tailed Godwit, Fieldfares, Redwings and Bramblings.
Marsh Harrier hunting over local arable land
There isn’t a day that currently goes by where we don’t see or hear a flock of geese flying over us and we know, from reading updates via the social network sites, that the migratory birds are arriving and settling into the reserves on a daily basis.
We offer the perfect sanctuary after a long day outside, braving the elements. Our warm, cosy, open plan cottages have been designed to make you feel at home the instant you walk through the door. The living room space invites you to put your feet up and relax and our large beds are so comfortable, we guarantee a good night’s sleep. We also have a heated, indoor swimming pool on site, which is always a welcoming place to thaw out those frozen, numb toes!
So, dig out your thermals and waterproofs, scrub down your walking boots, clean up your binoculars and rummage around in the back your kitchen cupboard for that Thermos flask. It’s time to book into one of our luxury cottages and explore the Great British Wildlife at some of these popular spots.
Sculthorpe Moor
We had to start with our neighbour, Sculthorpe Moor, which is situated approximately 2.5 miles from our cottages. This reserve is owned by the Hawk and Owl Trust, a charity that’s dedicated to conserving owls and other birds of prey, in the wild.
The 45 acre reserve has woodland, fen and reedbed habitats and offers a rich variety of wildlife. Throughout the year you can enjoy spotting wildlife such as tawny and barn owls, willow and marsh tits, kingfishers, tree creepers and water and bank voles. During the autumn and winter months you can find bramblings, water rails, siskins and roosting harriers too.
Between October and March the reserve is open from 8am – 4pm, Tuesday to Sunday. All families are welcome to enjoy the reserve – a voluntary donation of £3.50 is suggested from adult visitors.
Pensthorpe Wildlife & Gardens
Okay, so Pensthorpe could possibly be seen as more of an attraction, but we had to include it for the work this place does. This fabulous reserve covers over 200 acres and is nationally renowned for it’s conservation projects on Red Squirrels, Corncrakes, Turtle Doves and Cranes and is also nationally recognised as a breeding site for several species of birds, butterflies, insects and mammals.
Pensthorpe also works extremely hard to encourage children to discover nature and how they can respect and protect our natural surroundings and wildlife for their future. Interactive activities such as pond dipping, den building and going on an interactive bug walk, all educate the children and help them experience nature first hand.
This year, Pensthorpe also opened up their new adventure play area WildRootz. This adventure play area has been designed to encourage children to play and explore in natural habitats such as woods, fields and streams. It’s adventure play, nature’s way!
For full details of opening times and admissions visit www.pensthorpe.com
Cley Marshes
Cley Marshes is owned by the Norfolk Wildlife Trust and is their oldest (it was purchased in 1926) and best known nature reserve. In fact, it actually provided a blue print for nature conservation, which has now been replicated across the UK.
The reserve includes a shingle beach and several lagoons, along with a grazing marsh and reedbed. It supports large numbers of wintering and migrating wildfowl and waders and is home to residents including the bittern, marsh harrier and bearded tit.
The visitor centre looks across the marsh to the sea and the views are truly breathtaking.
Titchwell Marsh
This popular RSPB reserve takes you past reedbeds and shallow lagoons, before you reach a sandy beach. 
There are four birdwatching viewing points, all of which are wheelchair accessible, where you can watch an array of birds including Water Rails, Bitterns, Bearded Tits, plus variety of Waders, Terns and Ducks.
There is something for everyone at this reserve, even the children are encouraged to find different species of birds, insects and animals during their walk and if they find everything on their list, there’s a little prize to collect from the visitor centre.
Titchwell Marsh is open all year round and full details can be found at http://www.rspb.org.uk/reserves/guide/t/titchwellmarsh/index.aspx
Blakeney Point Nature Reserve
One final thing we must mention before we go, is the seal colonies around Blakeney Point.
Blakeney Point is a four-mile-long sand and shingle spit and is home to colonies of Grey and Common Seals. It is also one of the most important sites in Europe for breeding terns.
Grey Seal Pup basking in the winter sun
Although the seals can be seen throughout the year, Grey Seals have their pups between November and January and Common Seals have their young between June and August. The best way to view the seals in their natural habitat is by taking a boat trip either via Morston or  Blakeney Quay. This is a fantastic experience for all the family as it allows you to enjoy a close view of the wildlife without disturbing it. 
Blakeney Point sits within the Blakeney National Nature Reserve. The reserve itself is made up of saltmarsh, mudflats and fresh watermarsh and hosts a diverse range of special wildlife.
More details about boat trip operators and the reserve itself can be found at http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/blakeney/visitor-information/
We are spoilt for choice when it comes to the coastline in North Norfolk. Did you know that Both Wells and Holkham feature in the Telegraph’s best British beaches review, which got us thinking about the all of the local beaches we like to enjoy.  
Here’s our top five:

Holkham
Holkham beach was famously featured in the film, Shakespeare in Love a few years back, but did you know that it’s also part of one of the largest National Nature Reserves in the country? The beach offers miles of beautiful golden sands and it really is a place of unspoilt beauty. Be mindful that if you have young children, they will need to be good walkers as this is an expansive beach where you can walk for miles before you reach the sea when the tide is out.

Wells-next-the-sea
Wells beach is a beautiful sandy beach backed by dunes and pine trees. It’s also lined with lots of colourful beach huts, giving it that authentic seaside feeling. The beach is only a mile away from the town centre so it’s easy to stroll between the two, alternatively, there is a beach car park or in the summer you can use the miniature railway to travel between both areas. The gentle sea waters makes the beach at Wells a perfect family day out and don’t forget to treat yourself to some fish ‘n’ chips whilst you are there!

Brancaster Beach & The National Trust Millennium Activity Centre
Brancaster has an accessible sandy beach with adjacent car park, making it a popular beach for families. Like Wells, its gentle sea waters make it a calm and relaxing place to enjoy the coastline and take a leisurely dip in the sea. It’s also a great place for kite flying and enjoying a range of watersports.  In addition to this, Brancaster is an extensive coastal area that’s famous for its wild birds, so offers a great birdwatching experience too.

Hunstanton
Hunstanton, also known as Sunny Hunny, is famous for it’s striped cliffs. This seaside town is great for families whatever the weather as there are amusements arcades as well as the beach to enjoy. The shallow beach can offer some fantastic rock pools to explore when the tide is out and for the more adventurous; it’s a great beach for kite surfing. If you’re one for taking it easy, then why not hire out one of the beach huts, chill out in your deck chair and enjoy the seaside experience and an ice cream!

Blakeney
Blakeney nature reserve offers 4 miles of natural coastline that hosts a massive spectrum of wildlife including seasonal migrating birds and seal colonies. The reserve also has varying landscapes, a sand and shingle spit, salt marshes, sand dunes and a range of plant life. It’s a spectacular place to discover and enjoy our beautiful wildlife and unspoilt surroundings.

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