Places in the Broads where the ghost of Christmas past can still be found…

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In the bleak mid-winter…the signs of Christmas begin to awaken in the Broads National Park. Here, mistletoe hangs from the trees like baubles and red berries jewel the hedgerows. Robins dart in and out of cottage gardens while barn owls sleep on church spires. For those seeking to rediscover their Christmas spirit for another year, here a few places where the ghost of Christmas past can still be found and where nature’s winter bounty will have you dashing through the snow… or at very least, frost.

Thurne Church

Robin on a post © benjgibbs
Robin on a post © benjgibbs (CC BY 2.0)

Thurne is best known for its river, mill and moorings, but travel a little up the road of this traditional Broads village and you will come to the Norman church of St Edmund’s. This sleepy thatched church is Christmas-card-ready with a yew tree lit by scarlet berries and thick ivy-clad hedgerows. It has long been the home to owl boxes making it the perfect place to see one those ethereal birds scouring the surrounding farmland for food. The graveyard has a distinctly Victorian air, evoking Dickensian Christmases past and the land even has its own legends to tell, from the peephole in the church which gazes upon St Benet’s Abbey, to the tale of Richard Ferrer of the 17th century who was buried with a cowhide and horns as a practical joke to baffle future historians!

The Broads has many other beautiful churches, so there’s sure to be one (or probably more) near you.

Toad Hole Cottage and How Hill

Mistle © Nils Rohwer
Mistle © Nils Rohwer (CC BY-NC 2.0)

Imagine what life was like for the Bob Cratchits of this world when you glimpse the tiny marshman’s cottage, situated on the beautiful site of How Hill. Have a walk along the River Ant taking in the signs of the season, the holly, the robins , the ivy… there is even mistletoe growing in the boughs of the cottage garden’s apple trees, just waiting for a kiss to be made beneath. For frosty morning walks and mist rising from the water, How Hill is the perfect place to be.

Have a look here for more ideas for walking in the winter wonderland of the Broads.


Norwich window © Pipa Clements
Historic Norwich © Pipa Clements (CC BY 2.0)

There are parts of Norwich where the roads are cobbled and the houses crooked, places where the streets are lit dimly and ancient churches slump against old trees. And in these ancient veins of the city can be found that unique feel of Christmases past. Elm Hill is one such street boasting the accolade of being one of Britain’s most unaltered 16th- century streets. Wind your way through the black beams towards Norwich Cathedral where you can take in the historic splendour and maybe even a carol service or two?

The Broads is ancient and so are the Christmases which have passed here, so fall in love with the misty mornings, carols travelling across the fields and the holly and the ivy festooning the hedgerows in a festive red and green livery this winter.

Pssst! After Christmas… The magic goes on! Fairhaven Woodland and Water Garden at South Walsham has walks on Boxing Day and New Year’s Day.