Where? Boston to Cromer
When to drive it? Winter/Spring
Essential stop? Henry Blogg Museum
Perfect Stay: Captains House, Cromer, Norfolk
Say Boston and many will instantly think of the city on the US east coast. However, it gets its name from Boston in Lincolnshire, the starting point for a version of Great British Drives that takes in the beautiful coastline of The Wash.
Boston is notable for a couple of things. It’s a small port on the River Haven and in the early 20th Century was as famous for its fishing as Grimsby is now. It also features the largest church in England in the shape of St Botolph’s with its distinctive and stump-like tower.
Leave the town on the A16 going south and you’ll see signs for Frampton Marsh. This is a coastal wetland that’s home to many different species of bird. If you’re not a dedicated twitcher, you can hire binoculars free of charge from the RSPB visitor centre and there are pre-planned games to keep kids occupied on the walks. Moving on and you re-join the A16 briefly before turning left onto the A17 and heading for Holbeach and King’s Lynn.
As you cross the River Great Ouse on the way into King’s Lynn on this route for Great British Drives, it’s not hard to imagine the town as a bustling port, a status it enjoyed from the middle ages when it was ranked as England’s most important harbour. Head north along the A149 and you’ll get to Hunstanton at the tip of the Norfolk coast on The Wash.
Although it doesn’t always live up to its local nickname of ‘Sunny Hunny’, there’s plenty to do, whatever the weather. Head for St Edmunds Point and there’s a lighthouse that was built in 1840, a Coastguard look-out tower that served as a radio listening post during both World Wars, and even the remains of a ship wrecked on the beach in 1947.
Continue along the A149 and you get to Burnham Market which bills itself as ‘Norfolk’s loveliest village’. Very beautiful it is too with its red tiled cottages and village green just a stone’s throw from the sea. Drive on and the road follows the coast. In the winter this means you can be subject to some icy blasts but it doesn’t make the view out to sea across the wetlands any less stunning. If you want to blow the cobwebs away, divert to Cley Beach. Here you can check out the wildlife you may get to see at the stunning old lifeboat station that has been turned into the Blakeney Point Nature Reserve visitor centre.
If you’ve had enough of nature, there’s always the Muckleburgh Military Collection. This is the largest privately owned military museum in the UK. It features a huge variety of tanks and other military machinery. Visit between April and October and you can even pay to drive them. The route finishes in Cromer complete with its traditional seaside pier. It’s worth visiting the Henry Blogg Museum dedicated to the RNLI’s most decorated lifeboatman and to learn about the history of the famous service. And of course no trip to Cromer would be complete without sampling one of its famous crabs.