Followers of PackThePJs will know that we never stray TOO far from a coffee shop. Great News! We’ve found a stonkingly brilliant café called the Dunes Café; just a short walk from our Norfolk summer base at Long Beach Camping and Touring Site. We are so very pleased to have literally stumbled across this gem, which sits right on the top of the dunes looking out over the North Sea.
Well, I say we found it – not entirely accurate, as it was Huw who took the dogs for a very early morning beach walk one Sunday. It’s not that I was being lazy – far from it, as I actually left the campsite at 6am to drive to Southampton (with Millie-Mae and Toby) for a family fun day on board the cruise ship MSC Preziosa. I guess we woke Huw up getting ready, and he left for the beach shortly after we hit the road. When he found the café it was still very early and therefore closed, so he carried on walking north for an hour, then turned and walked back – arriving just in time for his breakfast.
The Dunes Café: Where is it?
To explain where The Dunes Café is in relation to the Long Beach Camping and Touring Site in Hemsby …
The campsite, as you’ll know by now, faces the dunes and beach in Hemsby. I counted a total of 74 (short-legged) steps from our caravan door to the natural beauty of the dune slacks. You walk through the dunes to the stunning beach, and turn left (ok, north) towards Winterton-on-Sea. Ahead of you, about half a mile (maybe a teeny bit more), you’ll see the café. You can’t miss it as it is the only building to be seen. Of course you can also walk via the more sheltered dune slacks (part of the Norfolk Coast Path). I prefer to walk to the café via the beach (as it is a good leg workout and you feel less guilty when ordering cake), and walk back through the valley behind the dunes.
For those heading there by car, I can’t tell you too much as I’ve not done it – but there is a car park right next to the café. If you follow signs for Hermanus or ‘beach’ from Winterton-on-Sea, I’m sure it’ll lead you straight there.
The Dunes Café: What makes it special?
I’ll talk about the food and drink in a minute, but there are some very quirky and functional features that make the Dune Café stand out, before you even reach the menu. Of course the first thing to mention is location. You are, literally, sitting atop a sand dune, overlooking a vast expanse of gorgeous unspoilt beach. But of course being in such a wild place it’s also exposed…
The Dunes Café is a very dog friendly café … there are as many dogs as humans that visit … but they cannot go inside for Health and Safety reasons. Normally, this means that us dog owners get the short straw and have to sit outside and suffer whatever weather is being thrown at us. But here, they’ve thought all about that. There are three (or maybe four) ‘shelter huts’, each containing enough seating for four people and a small bistro table.
Each of the colourfully painted shelter huts are decorated inside with dog-featuring artworks. The dogs can join you inside your hut, so long as they stay on the floor. They are really cosy 🙂
For warm days when the shelters aren’t needed, or even popular times when they are already taken, there’s also a row of tie-up hooks for dog leads along with a crate full of fresh water bottles and dog bowls: so you can leave your pet momentarily while placing your order.
The Dunes Café: Food and drink
We love eating and drinking, perhaps too much. However, we’ve only visited the Dunes Café once as a family and of course Huw did for his breakfast. Therefore our menu sampling to date has been minimal (come back soon as I’ll be updating after each visit!) But this is what we’ve experienced so far:
- Sausage in a roll
- Full Monty Breakfast baguette (egg, bacon, sausage)
- Sausage and egg in a roll
- Sausage roll
Dessert (after breakfast!)
- Norfolk Shortbread
- Millionaire shortbread
- Chocolate chip cookie
- Coffee (latte/cappuccino)
- Hot chocolate with cream and marshmallows
… everything we had was yummy. I do need to single out the Norfolk Shortbread … amazingly good. It’s a bit like a scone/rock cake, with fresh cream and jam. Oh, and I must mention that locally sourced ingredients are used throughout their menu.
I’m afraid we were too hungry to even think about photographing the breakfasts – they were gone before we remembered (next time!) However, I think you’ll agree that the cakes are pretty tempting.
They also have a lunchtime ‘Specials’ board, which I have to say will HAVE to be sampled at some point this summer as there’s a lot of lovely sounding food listed!
You may have noticed in the photos that there’s a pouch of dog treats … this is another lovely touch. Handmade dog biscuits are available to purchase. Izzy and Jack loved them (they want a bag each next visit!)
The Dunes Café is open 9am to 5pm daily. I’m not sure if they have Wi-Fi there – I’ll check for my next update. Mind you, I kind of hope they haven’t … else one of those huts might just become my permanent work space when we visit
Last weekend, on a lovely bright and sunny Saturday, we took a long stroll along the beach and dunes to the Dunes Café. Amazingly, although busy, we found an empty shelter hut 🙂 With the dogs chilling out having drank gallons and gallons of fresh water, we decided to treat ourselves to the following …
And a close up of that AMAZING cream scone!
My parents are visiting for the day on Saturday. Guess where we’re planning on heading for lunch and cake! Look out for our update next week 🙂 x