Great British Drives: The Wash

Great British Drives The Wash

Cromer is famous for its beach, pier and of course crabs. It’s a great drive getting there too. (Picture © North Norfolk District Council)

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.

Great British Drives The Wash

Blakeney Point is picturesque as well as being a nature reserve. (Picture © North Norfolk District Council)

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.

One comment on “Great British Drives: The Wash

  1. glyn o'connell January 1, 2015 7:28 am

    Hello James,
    I’m returning to the UK in Jan having lived in Australia since 2005. There aren’t many things in Aus that are superior to the UK but one thing stands out by a mile……car insurance! Having looked at quotes for my 19 yr old daughter I am staggered at the prices quoted. As a guide they are around 4000.00 sterling for a vehicle costing 600 quid. Here in QLD she drives a 2008 Hyundai Getz worth about 2500 sterling and insurance costs about 600 sterling a year! I don’t know whats going on with UK insurance but the word ‘racketeering’ comes easily to mind. Having looked at accident stats for Aus and UK they remarkably similar on a pop/driver basis so how can there be such huge discrepancies? Before you confine me to the ‘tin foil hat’ brigade just remember that two years ago claims that that LIBOR, FX Mkts and Gold prices were being manipulated were met with derision, now several banks have been fined billions for doing exactly that. I think its a national disgrace that insurance companies are able to impose such huge barriers to young people being able to drive and exercise their right to developing a career. Is it the case now that young people can only accept employment within a bus ride of their home? I fail to see how young people here can be insured at such massively different levels than in the UK when accident statistics are so similar.

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