A Weekend In Blakeney
I fancied a little holiday away and decided to try staying in an AirBnB for the first time. Many of my friends had stayed in rooms in an property via AirBnB but I wanted to rent a whole house. First choice was to decide where to go. This was easy! Someone mentioned that you could go see seals not too far away and so we headed to Blakeney to go see the seals!
Getting to Blakeney
I had recently purchased a new car and this was going to be its first real trip out. A good test of the MPG and how it handled motorway driving. Blakeney is just under 3 hours from my flat in London – with a good mixture of motorway, A and B Roads.
Public transport was four and an half hours, so although I could have done ‘other stuff’ (write blog posts) while having the train take the strain, I felt driving would be the best option as it would also make exploring easier.
Arriving at the AirBnb
The AirBnb was chosen as it was close to the high street. It also looked like it had a working fireplace! Although it did say it had off-road parking, the route to the parking felt a little ‘tight’ for my car so I ended up paying for the public car-park. It wasn’t too expensive so I didn’t mind and I had read in the reviews that parking could be an issue. It does remind you to read the AirBnB reviews as you might learn something about the property that you weren’t aware from.
Twee was the word! A lovely little cottage and it had 2 bedrooms upstairs, a bathroom upstairs, a Living Room / Kitchen Diner downstairs with another toilet AND power shower. Then, as an added bonus, there was a converted basement that had a sofa-bed in AND a pool table! Result. The biggest advantage was its closeness to the high street and you could walk to loads nearby.
I must say that Blakeney was a lovely little village. Very obviously a fishing village, it sits within an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Make no mistake, it looks amazing. I’m not sure if it was my car’s SatNav but we ended up on some very twisty and winding roads, some of them were single lane and most were 60mph. The sides were high with trees and bushes and it added to the sense of adventure of the trip.
We arrived quite late at night on a Friday night. I say ‘quite late’ but I think it was 9pm. Coming from London, I fully expected there to be a pub we could grab some dinner. We headed to the first pub and they told us food finished at 8pm! What the dickens?!!! This city-slicker is not used to this blasé attitude to pub-food offerings! We tried another pub and it was the same. Dinner ended up being purchased from the local Spar! Not the start we had planned however we made the most of it – all part of the fun!
I left the cottage early in hunt of some lovely breakfast. 30 seconds from the front door was Blakeney Delicatessen (just been awarded the Best Fine Food & Wine Shop 2019 – Norfolk by LuxLifestyle Magazine). Here I was able to pick up some croissant/pain au chocolat to have with a lovely cup of tea before we started the day. Peering out the window it wasn’t the hottest day ever but it didn’t look like it was going to rain so we planned for a walk round the area.
OMG! It well deserves being an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty! Our first stop was the Blakeney Duck Pond. It wasn’t a little pond, more of a lake. Loads of ducks kicking back and chilling out. I could have watched them for hours but there was exploring to do. We followed a footpath that went alongside the harbour to see where we ended up.
I checked google and it looked like we had a number of walking options, however none of them would have given us a view of the seals. Due to this we decided to walk for about an hour, while it wasn’t raining, and then turn back to return to one of the pubs we saw the night before.
Although it wasn’t raining, we were on a very flat area of land and the wind was really battering us. I’m sure I can walk much quicker but with the constant resistance to every step I felt that I was almost taking two steps forward then one step back! Officially it was ‘out of season’ for the seal watching and this meant that our walk wasn’t packed with tourists and holiday-makers. Occasionally a dog would shoot past us and a minute or two later their owner would appear. It was all very relaxed and after just over 2 hours we had built up an appetite for lunch.
Lunch – The White Horse Blakeney
I have done a separate blog post about this so rather than copy/paste it I’ll just put a link below.
The Remains of the Day
A 3 course lunch in a warm pub made us very content and not fancing braving the winds of the reserve so we explored a little closer to home and some of the local shops, buying presents for friends and family.
It is very nautical themed as an area so don’t be suprised that the shops all sell boat/fishing related items. I did further exploring and took a couple of photos of things that stood out.
Dinner was another exciting event. After the previous night’s failed food experiement, I’d found some take away menus in the house. We decided on Pizza and I checked them online and they were still trading, open and they had something I’d not seen before – Order via WhatsApp.
We agreed the two pizzas we wanted and I ordered via WhatsApp. There was no reply. 5 Minutes later – no reply. 10 minutes later – no reply. 20 minutes later – no reply. At this point I tried calling the number for them. No answer. I went online to find other numbers for them. No-one picked up at these either. About 30 minutes later I messaged them to cancel the order. I did eventually hear from them, the next day, when they said I could order if I wanted. Reader – I did not.
The less said about dinner on the 2nd day the better – at least we had a good lunch!
Day 3 – SEALS!
We had decided on the morning of Day 2 to have a walk around and go to see the seals on day 3. After breakfast the car was packed up and we said ‘goodbye’ to our little AirBnB cottage. It has been a great couple of days and it was ace having a home to live in rather than a hotel room.
Due to the time of year we were there, the best place to see seals would be to follow the coast east and visit a little place called Horsey. It took about an hours drive from Blakeney but it was so worth it! My advice is to pay to park at the official car-park to save yourself extra walking. It is CASH ONLY so make sure you have a few pound coins with you.
Staff on-site directed us to the ‘best’ place to view the seals and I must admit I wasn’t expecting much. As we made our way up to the top of the hill that overlooks the coast line, we both got excited – lots of people were just standing about in the same place. Perhaps we would see seals after-all.
Did we see seals? Heck yeah we did! Loads of them. We saw them basking, we saw them swimming, we saw them moving about and we even saw a seal pup! I think we spent about 40 minutes watching them and taking photos. Not much more to say so here are some pictures.
After all the excitement of the seals we both agreed it had been an excellent long-weekend in Blakeney. Our drive back to The Big Smoke was uneventful and the car performed perfectly. The In-Car sav nav helped reduce the stress about not-knowing how to get where we needed to be. We stopped at a little place for a bite to eat to breakup the journey (and to allow a bio-break!) so I didn’t feel too tired with a day of driving.
Unpacking the car we knew we have a load of great new memories from our weekend away. The AirBnb wasn’t very expensive (around £30 a day) and was certainly much cheaper than the local hotel (around £100 a night less!). For about £200, including all food, meals, and petrol, we had a long weekend away in an area of the country we didn’t know very well. We would certainly go back and next time we will do it when you are allowed onto the beach with the seals!
The Reverend’s Final Thoughts
What can I say? We had an amazing time. Although it was obviously the ‘off’ season, the mission to see seals was a success! Things I’d do differently;-
- Check out the food times of the pubs/restaurants nearby
- Find something else to do in the area for day 1 if the weather is bad
- Make use of the open fire
But that’s about it. I liked having a whole house as part of the AirBnb as this meant we had somewhere to relax without it being the bedroom (if we were in a hotel). We also enjoyed that we could walk from the house to most the places nearby. The closest pub was excellent, even if it did stop serving food too early on a Friday night!
Visit Blakeney, plan your trip and grab a couple of days by the sea.