In May for our first "proper" trip of the year we chose to spend a week down in East Anglia, flipping between Norfolk and Suffolk in the Brecks.
Over the space of several days we visited loads of great places and experienced what really is a unique place with some unusual habitats found only in that part of the country along with some glorious weather too.
As ever in our usual leisurely fashion we took a few days to journey down stopping off at a few places along the way. We hope you enjoy our visit to the Fens and Forests of East Anglia.
We stayed at a fantastic place the "Old Boot Garden Cottages" in Long Whatton just outside Loughborough. The accommodation is a great mix of luxury and quirky with a fantastic breakfast room which really is help yourself and set us up great for Saturday. Full details of "Old Boot Garden Cottages" can be found here.
Refreshed on Saturday we set course for Ely our base for the next two nights but first decided we'd take a small detour via Melton Mowbray - home of Pork Pies and Stilton cheese.
Yes we did go in the Pork Pie Shoppe - in fact there are several in the town that are certified to sell the official Melton Mowbray Pork Pie. We stayed away from the Stilton though as we didn't think that was very wise picnic food? Away from the gastronomic choice the town has a great park and a fascinating piece of sculpture as well as a handful of great looking buildings.
However our destination called and we set off again hoping to stop for lunch somewhere to enjoy our newly acquired and historic baked goods.
Before we knew it we were in Cambridgeshire and looking for a good place to stop. Following the sat nav we ended up on some pretty remote roads right in the middle of the flatest landscape in the Uk - the Fens. A quick look at the map and we found out we were literally a few miles from the WWT reserve at Welney. As you'll know we are members of the Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust but never been beyond our local reserve at Martin Mere so it was too good an opportunity to miss. 15 minutes later we were parked up in glorious sunshine, eating our picnic and then set off to explore Welney.
After a few hours welcome rest and a coffee and cake we set off for our base for the next few nights a self catering treat - Stable Cottage in Little Downham just outside Ely. Further details here.
Ely is a great place - a medieval town, a huge cathedral, a river, set in great countryside and loads of unique sights.
Over the next few days we visited the cathedral, used our National Trust membership for our first ever visit to Wicken Fen nature reserve (now one of our favourite places) where we heard our first Cuckoos of the year and spent time getting to know the area.
Monday came and it was time to move on but not until after another stop over for a more in depth visit to the majestic Ely Cathedral -one of the most impressive we've ever seen and a good mooch around Ely including a great pulled pork baguette from the food market.
Our base for the rest of the week wasn't a huge drive away bit in the 20 or so miles we drove the scenery changed from the flat undulating Fens to the forests and heathlands of the Brecks, straddling the Suffolk and Norfolk border.
Our destination was the Forest Retreat's site at Thorpe Forest just outside Thetford.
We went for the "retreat" option which had a hot tub, hammock and all sorts of things just for two in a more secluded cabin.
Over the next few days we explored the area in car and on foot and really fell in love with the area.
Some highlights: going to see the early morning training on the Gallops at Newmarket, worth getting up for; visiting the RSPB reserve at Lakenheath Fen not only great for wildlife yes more Cuckoos but Eagles too - OK they were overflying F15s from the nearby airbase; some great woodland walks around the site which is really secluded including Nightjar spotting - worth staying up for and a host of other great places to visit including Bury St Edmunds home to Greene King brewery and a cathedral that has only just been finished being built!
All too soon it was Friday and a 4 hour drive home.
We will be back though. It's a good few years since either of us had been to the area but if anything it was better than we could remember and the great thing - it is so big and so much to do we feel like we've only scratched the surface. Roll on our next visit to the land of fens and Forests.
Don't expect globe-trotting reports from the Himalayas. We do like a good holiday and break every now and then and also some simple days out not too far away from home. No bucket lists just some common places done differently.....