Saturday 14 October 2017 – Norwich, Norfolk, England.
Continuing our search to find somewhere outside of London to buy a house El and I decided to take a day out and visit Norwich. It is not a coastal town, so for me it has one immediate downside. However, it is not a major effort to get to the nearby coast, and it has a lot of positives. One of those positives it is only two hours by train from Liverpool St Station. This makes it far smoother to get to and from Walthamstow than with trains that terminate in Paddington.
By my Saturday morning standards I was up very early so we could catch the train, and we arrived in Norwich late morning. In a burst of unusual enthusiasm we had done some research into Norwich and had a loose plan for the day. Starting with following the River Wensum from the station around to the Last Wine Bar, where El had booked us in for lunch. Visiting the castle and the cathedral were also on the list; any town with a river, a castle and cathedral has an advantage in my book.
The walk around the river is really nice, with paths on both sides and plenty of interesting things to look at on the way. Norwich is an old city, with settlements back to pre-Roman times, though its mad boom period was in the 10th century when it was the second largest town in Britain; behind London. The Castle and the Cathedral were both built soon after the Norman conquest. The inside of the river was the site of city walls and there were a number of gated bridges controlling access, like the 15th century Pulls Gate.
Cow Tower was built in 1398 as an artillery post to defend the city against marauding local rebels and the perceived threat from France. Now it is a nice river side spot to have a wee late morning doze.
The river takes an almost 90 degree turn at Cow Tower and the path meanders past the edge of the cathedral fields. With lunch in mind we did not venture in to the cathedral grounds just yet.
The River Wensum, joins the River Yare just outside the city and the Yare flows to the North Sea at the busy port of Great Yarmouth. Norwich was a busy inland port and quite a wealthy city, this section of the river walk reminded us a lot of Brugge, very European in style. Norwich is a university town, so has a lot of students; which means a lot of cafes and bars, along with a youthful and outward look on life. It was not a Brexit supporting town in the referendum in June last year. This seemed to be reflected in how the city ‘felt’. Maybe having a row of houses that look European makes a place feel European?
We were early for lunch at the Last Wine Bar so took a walk round the immediate area, there were some nice little streets, and nice windows with reflections to keep me entertained as well.
Lunch at the wine bar was excellent, really nice atmosphere, food, wine and service, not cheap though. London prices as they say. However, we would go back.
After lunch we took a walk around town, heading into the old town, past numerous shops, bars and some nice looking cafes. It was pleasing to see that there were a number of non-high street brand stores, independent retail had a home in Norwich. I am liking it more and more.
We headed up to the castle, though did not go in; cost and time, prohibited it. Next time.
Looping around the castle we headed back down the hill, past the lovely old Anglia TV studio building, down towards the cathedral quarter.
Started in 1095 the construction of the cathedral was completed in 1145, the spire was completed in 1148 and is the second tallest in England. It is a marvellous spire and I marvel at its age and the skill and vision of its builders.
The streets around the cathedral are equally lovely, especially on this glorious, early autumn day. Cobbled lanes, big old trees, a mix of Tudor and newer buildings, bright colours. What’s not to love?
Maybe the Bear Shop was a step too twee.
It was a slow stroll, back around the river path to the station.
Another great day and a town now high on the ‘should we buy here’ list. Nice one Norwich.