If you find yourself near Norwich and at a lose end, then it is possible to get away from the hustle and bustle and enter an idyllic countryside space without actually leaving the city. Whitlingham Country Park looks like one of Norfolk’s famous broads, but it is actually a man-made water space, built on the site of a former quarry. Despite that it has all the same wildlife that you would find in any other broadland space, and it is a wonderful place to take a walk: we take the dog down there to tire him out (and the kids too!) at least once a week.
Altogether, the circular walk around the larger of the two lakes (officially known as Whitlingham Great Broad) is two miles long: we find that doing it once is enough for us, but if you’re a glutton for punishment then it is attached to plenty of other walkways and footpaths to elongate the experience. There is plenty of car parking (in fact the country park has four separate car parks) although many people choose to park on the road to avoid paying car parking: beware of these motorists, as they do make it a little tricky to get down the road! We always park in the car park closest to the cafe, which is as good a place as any to start your walk as far as I’m concerned!
Whitlingham is also home to a water sports centre where you can hire boats, canoes and body boards (and other things of that ilk) to take out on the water: we have never done this as a family, but Boy8 has been canoeing on the water with his cub troop. The terrain of the walk is set to a gravel path, which is relatively smooth and easy to access: the boys have been all the way around the broad on their scooters, and we regularly see people whizzing past us on their bikes or whilst jogging. Officially, therefore it is accessible to wheelchair users.
I will say that during the winter months the path can get flooded and almost impossibly muddy: on one particularly memorable trip this winter, boy5 lost his wellie in the mud and then carried on walking on his sock. He ended up muddy to his knees, leaving me carrying him sans shoes on my shoulders, and with his scooter hitting my knees: it was not a good trip!
If you’re a wildlife spotter then you’re in for a treat: on this trip alone we saw ducks, swans and geese. Baby dragonflies and other insect, and also some frog spawn (but bizarrely, not a single frog!) We are far from wildlife experts, so someone with a trained eye would spot much more than we did.
Finally, I will say that the whole area is wonderfully dog friendly. We always keep our dog on his lead, because he has terrible recall when he gets excited, but you will see an abundance of friendly pups on your walk, both on lead and off. In the café (which is in the site of a former flint barn) area you’ll find toilets, baby changing facilities, and the opportunity for a piece of cake too. A highlight for me: and a reward for the boys after a walk well done! The dog isn’t allowed inside the café, but is welcome to sit on the benches outside, which is a lovely place to be in the sunshine anyway.
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