Great Yarmouth, with its rich historic past and wide sandy beaches, was a popular seaside resort for generations. It is just as exciting today and is great for children and adults all year round
Great Yarmouth boasts 15 miles of golden sand beaches, rugged cliffs and great seaside amusement for all the family. This Norfolk town, steeped in history, is great for a short break as well as a longer summer holiday.
With climate change leading to warmer summers in the UK and the credit crunch to contend with, this is the perfect time to discover ‘that popular seaside resort’ our grandparents so loved.
Charles Dickens used Great Yarmouth as one of the settings in his autobiographical novel, David Copperfield. Peggotty, David’s beloved nurse, described Great Yarmouth as: “Upon the whole, the finest place in the universe”. With this in mind, I set out to discover the town.
I started my walk from the town centre taking Regent Road towards the seafront. This pedestrian street has loads of discount shops with great bargains, coffee shops and restaurants. Britannia Pier marks the start of the ‘the golden mile’ area famous for its many indoor attractions and amusement arcades; one of the first spots visitors will head for in the summer months. I walked along the beach front until Wellington Pier, impressed by how wide and clean Great Yarmouth beach was. I took the Marine Parade, the main road to get back into town; impressive amusement arcades, inviting restaurants and a couple of bars line this very wide avenue with a separate track for horse drawn carriages. Quite a few of these were already lined up and waiting for passengers.
I wandered towards Market Gate and into the market itself to check out the famous Yarmouth chips I'd heard so much about. There were at least six stalls to choose from; I opted for the stall with the longest queue. Tucking into my cone of chips topped with hot chili sauce, I felt just like a Yarmouth local. And, yes, they were the best.
Other things to see and do
Near the quay towards Wellington Pier is a 144 ft tall monument locals call Nelson’s column. This was erected 24 years before the one in Trafalgar Square to mark the hero’s victory at the Nile and to mark his return to Norfolk.
Visit the Time and Tide Museum (01493 743930) in Blackfriar’s Road to get a glimpse of a bygone age; housed in a converted herring curing works, the museum has some fine exhibits and collections of maritime interest. Entrance is £4.50 for adults and £3.30 for 4- 16 years.
There are two theme parks for children: Joyland (www.joyland.org.uk) for younger children and Pleasure Beach (www.pleasure-beach.co.uk) for older ones.Pleasure Beach is situated right on the waterfront and has over 20 large rides including Skydrop, the Great Yarmouth roller coaster, a crazy golf course and water attractions. Entrance is free; rides are paid for by tokens or wristbands which you can purchase at reception.
Great Yarmouth used to have an unusual street plan. Residents lived in rows, which were pebble pathways crammed inside the town walls. Although most of these rows were destroyed during the war, some are still numbered so keep an eye open for these as you stroll through the town.
Where to eat
If you want to experience what living in a row was like, go to the Italian restaurant Lazzarella (01493330622) on Poppy Row or 75 Howard Street. Antonio and Marguerita serve good traditional Italian cuisine in their cosy restaurant - it can only be cosy with six tables. You can have a three-course meal for about £17 but you have to book and they close on Sundays and Mondays.
The Seafood Restaurant at 85 North Quay (01493 856009)might be a trifle expensive but locals and visitors claim it’s one of the best in town. Expect to pay between £30- £40 a head but know you’re in for a treat.
Where to sleep
There’s a huge choice of hotels offering sea views as well guest houses and bed and breakfasts ranging from simple to luxurious. Self-catering holiday parks and caravan sites are also available. We stayed at Potters Resort, a holiday village resort, about six miles from Great Yarmouth. Potters has a wide range of sports activities to choose from as well as evening entertainment. A pool, sauna and steam room makes it the perfect resort. We paid £189 each for two days of full-board accommodation, sports and leisure.
You can get to Great Yarmouth by road from London via Norwich in about 2 ½ hrs or by train from Liverpool street.