At the heart of this collective is Burnham Market, a very pretty and busy village, resulting from the merging of three original villages – Burnham Sutton, Burnham Ulph and Burnham Westgate. Its name (as in the case of all the Burnhams) derives from its location to the River Burn. This particular village has also earned itself the nickname ‘Chelsea-on-Sea’ from locals due to the large number of second homes purchased in the area by London residents. It is the upmarket, affluent character of the village that has also made it popular for celebrities, many of whom have homes in the area including television favourite Amanda Holden.
Each year Burnham is home to one of the major events in the equestrian calendar – The Burnham Market International Horse Trials. Olympic and Championship riders from across the country (and overseas) compete in this challenging event, with top names making regular appearances including Zara Phillips, William Fox-Pitt and local star Piggy French. Breathtaking riding, country displays, trade stands and children’s activities make this one of the ‘must do’ events in North Norfolk.
For visitors and locals alike Burnham Market has plenty to draw in the crowds. Snubbing the high street chains in favour of small independents, the village is famous for its boutique and individual shops. With art galleries (such as the amusingly name Fish & Ships Gallery) and an abundance of places to seek refreshment, a day at Burnham can be a leisurely one. A hive of activity buzzes around The Hoste Arms, the hotel and restaurant for fine dining with a laid back atmosphere – much like the village itself.
A couple of miles east of Burnham Market is Burnham Thorpe, famous as the birthplace of British naval hero Horatio Nelson. Although the house of his birth has been demolished, his local pub – The Lord Nelson is still open for business, much as it was back in Nelson’s day. Known at The Plough until 1798, the pub was re-named in honour of Nelson and was frequented by him on his return to the village, where he would enjoy his favourite drink in the high backed settled which still exists today. Nelson’s father Edmund was rector of the church at Burnham Thorpe and both he and his wife, Catherine are buried at The Church of All Saint’s in the village.
Burnham Overy Staithe is the place to be for any boating enthusiast. Sailing, canoeing and rowing; it all happens at Burnham Overy Staithe. But for those who prefer their feet firmly on dry land, there are plenty of walk ways around the harbour and marshes to admire the sail boats dotted over the landscape. The area is of equal attraction to artists for this reason, providing a popular North Norfolk scene recognisable in many of the coastal galleries. From the harbour at Burnham Overy Staithe it is also possible to access the National Nature Reserve of Scolts Head Island via the daily (summer) ferry service at high tide.
One of the dominating features of the area is the Burnham Overy Staithe Windmill, built in 1816 for Edmund Savory (miller of the nearby watermill) and formerly known at Tower Mill. Last used as a working mill in 1919 it was once hoped the listed building would be restored to working order by The National Trust during the 70’s. After much consideration it was agreed that the small country lanes surrounding the property would not cope with large visitor numbers and the plans were ceased. Today the property is used as self catering holiday accommodation.
On the coastal road in Burnham Deepdale which is in close proximity to Brancaster Staithe (famous for its mussels) and the two are often linked. Village life is centred around the fishing community and sailing on from the harbour. The salt marshes are very popular for birdwatchers and the nearby coastal path provides an excellent opportunity to get close to nature. Deepdale Camping is an award winning eco friendly campsite with backpacker’s hostel providing some rather unique accommodation options. For a family holiday with a difference try one of the Yurts or Tipi’s on the site, perfect to enjoy a night under canvass without having to put up your own tent! With heater and luxury faux fur, this takes camping to another level!
Photos: Sue Payne