“Can we go on an adventure today?” Freya asked.
I looked at the overflowing washing basket, the pile of breakfast dishes in the sink and the vacuum cleaner looking forlorn in the hall and said…
To be fair, that happens quite a bit – it doesn’t take much to talk me out of housework – but on this occasion I knew just the place to go.
A couple of days before she had picked up a leaflet for Fairhaven Woodland and Water Garden while we were shopping in Norwich and I thought: “We’ll have to go there one day.”
It seemed that day had come – especially with the sky a clear blue and the temperatures edging towards double figures.
This was actually my second visit. I was lucky enough to help judge a green tourism section of an awards run by the newspaper I was working for a few years ago and the garden was one of the contenders.
I always planned to go back – ideally not wearing a suit and with more appropriate shoes – but then things got a bit busy.
According to the website:
“Fairhaven Woodland and Water Garden was created by Major Henry Broughton, who later became the 2nd Lord Fairhaven. The hall, woodland, water garden and inner broad were all part of the South Walsham Estate, which he purchased in 1946.”
The 130 acre site, which is 100% organically managed, first opened to the public on April 18th, 1975.
It is home to one of Norfolk’s oldest trees, King Oak which is more than 950 years old (pictured), and is a true haven for wildlife.
I will admit, before we went, that the £6.50 (per adult) entry fee, which includes a donation, did make me flinch ever-so-slightly but then I thought, I pay £3 for 30 minutes for her to go to softplay, and while I’m not knocking softplay, I would certainly rather her be running around outside in the fresh air, enjoying the flora and fauna – especially as there is no time limit.
Also, having been there, I would probably pay much more to visit. You can’t put a price on the happy feeling that washed over me as we wandered along the paths in the sunshine (she stopped occasionally to squish in a muddy puddle) or the absolute peace of standing by the water with only bird song (and a woodpecker at work) for company.
“Just listen to that, Freya,” I said. She does a funny impression of a woodpecker now.
I pushed her buggy, just in case she got tired, and it was all accessible (although a bit bumpy in places, not that we minded). Every now and then there are information boards which tell you a bit about the birds, animals and insects you might spot.
There is also a chance to go on a boat ride (though not yet as it’s closed for winter) for either 20 mins or 50 mins, which costs extra. Freya is desperate to go so we will be heading back shortly.
Just in case you miss civilisation (can’t think why), there is a lovely tearoom and gift shop stocking locally produced items and the chance to buy plants.
Everyone we met was so friendly and the staff couldn’t have been more welcoming and helpful.
Although I had my big camera I only brought one lens – as I knew I would be tempted to spend the entire time taking photos rather than just enjoying a day out with Freya – but there was a moment where I longed for some more zoom (see below).
My mum and dad want to come next time so hopefully I will get another chance to get some close ups – and if it was this beautiful now, just imagine what it will be like in a few weeks when more things blossom and bloom.
When we returned home following a picnic lunch I was in the perfect mood to get all the jobs done – you can’t ask for more than that.
Tip: The gardens are in South Walsham. Don’t make the mistake I did the first time I went and assume that would be next to North Walsham. It’s really not (by a good 16 miles).