Poppylands was my target when, on a bright Saturday morning, I took off to walk to Horsey Gap from our base at Long Beach Camping and Touring Park at Hemsby, Norfolk. This five mile route forms part of the Norfolk Coast Path and takes in the seal colony at Horsey as well as some lovely cafes (the Dunes Café and Poppylands) and at least one excellent pub (Nelson Head).
The weather was scorching! The scenery along the Winterton valley was hard to beat. My two bouncy springer spaniels loved running around. We were soon making a good pace, with a quick water stop at the Dunes Café; they provide fresh water for dogs as well as lovely cakes and coffee for us adults. We then continued on towards Horsey Gap.
The whole walk takes about 1.5 hours at a moderate pace. If you stick to the coastal path the going is relatively flat. It is a perfect walk for kids and dogs and the path is fine for cycling as well. We made the turn-off to the Nelson Head at about 12:30 and, taking advice from two seasoned walkers from the area, decided to adjourn to the pub for refreshment.
Hemsby to Poppylands: The Nelson Head
The Nelson Head is about 1 mile off the path (sign posted). It is well worth a visit. They serve fantastic fish and chips with mushy peas! They’ve also got a great selection of around 8 real ales and 7 ciders including Woodefords Wherry and Nelsons Revenge. I also sampled an IPA from YarBrew and a beer by the name of las Mandarina. The dogs got some chips and a lovely cool drink of water. The pub was mildly busy but the staff were great and dogs were allowed in the bar with no problem.
Apparently the Nelson Head’s busiest times are between October and February when the seals are having pups. Walking on past a lovely thatched barn and out onto the road heading for Horsey Gap and the seals, I reached Poppylands.
Hemsby to Poppylands: Poppylands
Poppylands is a 1940s themed coffee shop and restaurant. It was a brilliant find!
A coffee shop and museum in one with a 1940s sweet shop/gift shop upstairs.
And they served the best bread pudding I have ever tasted! (On traditional 1940s plates of course!)
The owner, Darren, has been an enthusiast of the 1940s period since he was just a little lad. He spent a year on rations as an adult and managed to lose 8 stone in weight! All his clothes are ‘make do and mend’ wartime vintage. His knowledge is phenomenal and he will talk to you for hours about wartime, the social history of the 1940s and even Dad’s Army if encouraged.
The coffee shop, established for over a year, is very popular. With dishes such as bubble and squeak, bread pudding, and the traditional Sunday roast carvery it is a ‘tasty’ as well as interesting destination. Dogs are allowed in the upstairs dining room: here they can indulge in a dinner of sausages and gravy!
The menu is comprehensive with cakes and dishes that lend their existence to wartime traditional.
Poppylands is definitely worth a visit for a cuppa and a chat with Darren. He even does lectures for kids to teach them a bit of social history with uniform dressing up and drilling, Dads Army style.
Having left Poppylands it was the long walk home through the Horsey Gap car park for a quick look at the seals and back along Winterton Valley towards Hemsby. I arrived home with the sun on my back about 6:30 with 10 miles behind me and ready for a nice cold drink in the Dolphin Bar at the campsite!