Valentine’s Day is just ahead and if you are looking for an inspired romantic getaway to treat the one you love, then Norfolk has it all! Historic Heacham Manor has its own special love story as Pocahontas, the native American princess immortalised by Disney, is said to have visited in 1616 with her husband, John Rolfe, whose family owned nearby Heacham Hall. Legend has it that the hotel’s mulberry tree, which stands next to the arbour, was planted by her and the fable has even inspired the name of our restaurant.
Flowers are a Valentine’s staple and the green shoots of spring are just poking their heads up. A romantic woodland walk is a wonderful way to admire the season’s blooms and immerse yourself in nature, so head to Walsingham Abbey where the snowdrops are in full flower between mid-February and early March over 18 acres of grounds and along the banks of the River Stiffkey, as far as the eye can see. As the season rolls from spring to summer, the abbey’s display of snowdrops is replaced by beautiful bluebells so, even if your trip doesn’t coincide with Valentine’s, don’t miss a visit to Walsingham.
Also unmissable is Pensthorpe Nature Reserve, just outside Fakenham, a 700-acre site with four fabulous gardens including the renowned Millennium Garden created by Dutch designer Piet Oudolf, the name behind the 9/11 Remembrance Garden and High Line in New York. With over 150 species of perennials, shrubs, grasses and climbers to see, in spring the Millennium Garden comes to life with birds, butterflies and insects and, although early in the season, on 14 February you can even bring a loved one to visit for free – a wonderful Valentine’s treat!
A walk on a sandy beach with the water gently lapping the shore and wide open vistas as far as the eye can see always makes for a romantic moment. Top of the tides is undoubtedly Holkham Beach, not least because it was used as the cinematic backdrop for the closing scene of Shakespeare In Love, but the sandy dunes of Brancaster, Holme and Old Hunstanton beaches are all stunning spots and often quiet at this time of year if you yearn some quiet time with your beloved.
As flowers are a Valentine’s essential, so chocolate is a must and Norfolk has some super cocoa creators to indulge. Gnaw is one of the county’s biggest makers with an array of imaginative flavours to try. Made with premium, ethically sourced chocolate, you can buy a good selection of its bars and hot chocolate stirrers at Hunstanton’s Norfolk Deli.
Luxury vegan chocolate brand Booja-Booja are also Norfolk natives, and still made in county. Renowned for its melt in the mouth truffles, if your chosen one loves a little luxury, this is the box for you, and if they are a hit you might want to sneak home one of Booja-Booja’s lavish Easter eggs too.
If they prefer to pick their own, head to Snettisham’s Poppyfields Retail Park, just off the A149, where Maldon Chocolates master chocolatier creates his own luxury chocolates and handmade fudge which you can choose by the piece, alongside a selection of authentic Turkish delight, Italian nougat and real liquorice. Sweet tooth fans will be in seventh heaven!
Of course, Valentine’s wouldn’t be complete without a romantic meal for two, and we have just the thing at our Mulberry Restaurant where our special sharing menu will be available from 12-18 February. With the scene set, the menu starts with a trio of fish dishes, followed by a mouth-watering Chateaubriand steak served with chimichurri and peppercorn sauces, onion rings, grilled mushrooms, cherry tomatoes and chunky chips. Dessert is chocolate-inspired, of course, complete with super-sweet strawberries. A classic Valentine’s menu to savour, carefully prepared by our chefs and no washing-up to do – what could be more loving than that? All you need to do is add your bottle of choice – perhaps a glass of chilled bubbly? – and enjoy a romantic evening together.
If you’re inspired by our menu and decide to pop the question at the table, why not make Heacham Manor the place to celebrate your nuptials? Heacham Manor is offering £1,000 off a Winter Wedding before 31 March 2024 or between 1 January – 31 March 2025 (terms and conditions apply), so there is plenty of time to plan your big day. Talk to our team about your vision and let us make the magic happen for you and your loved one. Plus, you have the perfect place to return to and enjoy your wedding anniversary each year. Romance, we’ve got your covered!
Image: Esther Wild Photography