Are you thinking of exploring dog-friendly Norfolk?
It’s a place that has been on our wish list for years.
With 90 miles of golden sandy beaches, stunning countryside and the tranquillity of the North Broads, there’s so much to love about this glorious place.
We were thrilled to be invited to visit in September 2023 by our friend Sue Allen at East Ruston Cottages, a dog-friendly holiday company in Norfolk.
Our base for the week was Woodpecker Lodge, a breathtakingly beautiful bungalow that sleeps six humans and four dogs.
It’s without a doubt the poshest dog-friendly place we’ve ever been to, along with photographer Kerry Jordan from Fur and Fables, and her two Whippets, Bertie and Shadow.
In this post, you’ll discover what Norfolk has to offer from places to stay walks and hikes, things to see dog-friendly places to eat and drink and how to have a pawsome time with your pup.
PS. You’ll notice the photos here are amazing. They’re by Kerry and if you’d like to work with her, visit furandfables.com.
You can also listen to an interview with Sue from East Ruston Cottages by clicking the player link below.
Dog-friendly places to stay in Norfolk
East Ruston offers a range of places from cosy one-bedroom cottages, to spacious farmhouses and one property, Fenside in Catfield sleeps 10 humans and unlimited dogs.
Yes, you heard that right. Sue once hosted 16 dogs.
Woodpecker Lodge in Scratby
We stayed at Woodpecker Lodge, a beautiful bungalow in Scratby with a fully enclosed garden and even had a hot tub.
Owner Paula has thought of everything. From dog beds, snuggly sofa covers, bowls and blankets to dog buggies and ramps, it really is the most well-equipped home I’ve ever experienced.
We were greeted with a welcome pack with locally made dog treats and poo bags for the pups and fresh bread cake and amazing biscuits, locally sourced apple juice, jam and fresh milk for us plus vouchers for discounts at local businesses.
The bungalow is super modern with TVs in each bedroom, two doubles and one twin.
And it’s very spacious with a beautiful garden to relax in and a hot tub which truly was the cherry on the icing on the top of the cake.
Dogs can sleep on and in the beds, there’s no infuriating ‘paws on the floors’ rules.
All the owners ask is that you bring your own bedding so you can truly relax and it’s a real home-from-home.
Prices start from £400 for a three-night stay.
What’s close to Woodpecker Lodge in Scratby
Woodpecker Lodge is a 10-minute walk from a beautiful beach.
Think gorgeous golden sands stretching for miles and with low tides so you can go on the beach at pretty much any time of day.
And it was so quiet too – Patch and I had the beach to ourselves one morning which was glorious!
To find it, all you need to do is come out of the cottage, turn left walk down the road until you see the yellow house and you’ll find the beach right at the end.
Look out for the fabulous beach toy borrow box with buckets and space and all you need for a day out on the beach. Plus public loos as well!
The Beach Road in Scratby is home to a number of holiday parks, fish and chip shops, cafes, Whites wine bar and restaurant, and our fave eaterie, Scratby bakery. More on that later!
Badger’s Retreat in East Ruston
Another holiday home we visited on our trip was Badgers Retreat, a beautiful ground-floor property in the Norfolk countryside with a secure garden and lots of space.
Perfectly placed for walks on the Weavers Way, trips to the beach and exploring the Norfolk Broads, this is a real gem and part of Bristow’s Farmhouse.
This sleeps two people and up to three dogs and it has a bright and airy conservatory, spacious lounge, kitchen area and bedroom.
It’s beautifully decorated and is lovely and cosy, perfect for a chilled weekend to get away from it all and also ideal if you fancy a solo break.
Prices start from less than £100 a night during the winter and off-peak season.
Click the links below to view Woodpecker Lodge and Badgers Retreat on East Ruston cottage website.
Woodpecker Lodge: https://www.eastrustoncottages.co.uk/accommodation/woodpecker-lodge/
Walks and days out for you and your dog in Norfolk
Norfolk is a huge county and I can’t even begin to scratch the surface of the many places you can explore, but these are the trips we took to help you get started.
And if you’re looking for things to do when it comes to walking, Norfolk is also really flat, making it ideal for every kind of mobility level.
A wildlife boat trip on the Norfolk Broads
This was such a peaceful and tranquil experience.
We joined Ross and his Canine Captain, Chihuahua Bracken on one of his wildlife boat trips.
You’ll find him near the National Trust cafe at Horsey Pumphouse.
Ross has been running his trips for 27 years and is a real character, so friendly and knowledgeable, pointing out different kinds of birds, ducks, and insects, and explaining how the ecosystem works together.
We learned all about the wildlife and he provides binoculars you can use while you’re on the boat if you want to get a little bit closer.
We read on his Facebook page of people who have been on this trip several times in one holiday because he just has so much to say, and is a wonderful guide.
The boat is dog-friendly too. When we hopped on board, there were another six pups with us!
You’ll find plenty of walks nearby, and Horsey Pumphouse is very Instagrammable, with its beautiful windmill if you enjoy taking photos.
Learn more on Ross’s Facebook page here: https://www.facebook.com/RossWildlifeBoatTrips/
Weavers Way canal walk
The Weavers Way is a 61-mile trail from Cromer to Great Yarmouth so there are lots of different routes to explore.
We took a walk along the canal close to Potter Heigham Boatyard and marveled at the pretty homes on the edge of the water.
Think chocolate box cottages with thatched roofs and quirky houses that wouldn’t look out of place in an Enid Blyton children’s book.
One holiday home is actually a converted water mill, and many of them have little boats and moorings close by. It’s also a flat walk so suitable for a range of mobility levels.
You can find routes on the Weaver’s Way here: https://www.norfolk.gov.uk/out-and-about-in-norfolk/norfolk-trails/long-distance-trails/weavers-way/about-weavers-way-and-points-of-interest
See the seals at Horsey Gap
This really is a sight to behold. We visited at the end of September and saw over 100 seals on the beach at Horsey Gap.
It was absolutely breathtaking being so close to these fascinating creatures.
Do keep at least 10 metres away, we heard crazy stories about people sitting on the poor seals and taking selfies with them which they must find so distressing.
We watched as they splashed around and played in the sea, relaxed by the shore, and marveled at how fast they shuffle along.
There’s a car park at the top, and then you walk down the ramp to the beach.
Keep your dog is on the lead because as soon as you set foot on the sand, you may see the seals and encounter some very strong scents.
Patch was slightly manic when we visited, so one of us stayed in the car with the dogs while the other went to see the seals, so do make sure your dog is under control.
Built in 1790, this striking red and white striped tower stands at 85ft tall and is now a tourist attraction having been saved as a working lighthouse by the local community.
It was due to be decommissioned in 1988, but Kay Swann, a Marine Geophysicist and local resident, along with the Friends of Happisburgh Lighthouse, stepped in.
They gathered a petition, leading Trinity House to delay the closure and a fundraising campaign secured a Private Bill in Parliament to keep it running.
On April 25, 1990, the Bill received Royal Assent, making Happisburgh the UK’s only independently operated working lighthouse.
The Happisburgh Lighthouse Trust was set up to operate and maintain the Light as a registered Charity.
It’s a beautiful spot with a 1.75 mile village trail where you can explore Happisburgh which is such a pretty place, and marvel at the lighthouse.
And take photos of your dogs of course. How adorable are Patch, Bertie and Shadow?
Find out more and check out the trail: https://happisburgh.org.uk/lighthouse/salvation/
Another lovely thing we found in Happisburgh is Nero’s kitchen.
This is an honesty shop created by a wonderful woman named Jan who adopted a dog called Nero from a Greek animal shelter.
She took him to stay in Norfolk at an East Ruston property, fell in love with the place and moved from Surrey to Happisburgh.
Jan decided to sell her biscuits locally for animals in need and, with Sue’s support, grew Nero’s Kitchen and her treats are in the welcome packs of lots of the properties.
Then she discovered Elpida Shelter of Hope, a shelter in Greece in 2012 and decided all her profits would go to them.
Now, she’s a vital part of their admin team, helping 60 dogs in Levidia, Greece.
To date, Nero’s Kitchen has raised a whopping £58,364.77, with £55,202.32 going directly to Elpida.
Connect on Facebook here: https://www.facebook.com/neroskitchenbiscuits/
A traditional seaside trip to Hemsby
If you’re staying in Scratby and head to the beach then turn left, walk along for about an hour or so, and you’ll get to Hemsby, a traditional seaside resort.
This took me back to being a youngster when we’d visit Blackpool for fish and chips, ride on the funfair, and to see the illuminations.
In Hemsby, you’ll find fairground rides, arcades, fish and chips, sweet shops, cafes, pubs, and everything you’d expect from a small seaside resort.
Our favourite was Mr Marvin’s Doggy Deli, which we’ll talk about more later.
Dog-friendly places to eat and drink in Norfolk
As Woodpecker Lodge is so well equipped, we ate in for much of our stay.
One staple stop-off for gorgeous food is the nearby Hirst Farm Shop, a must for amazing veggies and fruit, plus locally sourced meat, wine, and other goodies.
They have a cafe and run events too.
Find out more on their website: https://hirstsfarmshopandcafe.co.uk/
And we LOVED Scratby Bakery.
This is a traditional bakery just down the road from Woodpecker Lodge where they serve amazing bacon butties.
They have a lunchtime traditional sandwich meal deal which comes with a pack of crisps and a can of pop and absolutely beautiful bread, cakes and pastries.
From old-school sprinkle cake to croissants and Millionaire’s Shortbread, there is something for everyone.
The staff there are so friendly and come out every time you visit to give biscuits to your dog and make a huge fuss of them.
Visit their Facebook page here: https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100063631299059
For a beachside snack, try Bebe Rai’s, a cafe where you can get burgers, chips, and amazing loaded fries.
I opted for Southern Fried Chicken, and my friend Kerry went for the Pulled Pork, and we took our food onto the beach with a bottle of wine to watch the sunset.
Find them on Facebook here: https://www.facebook.com/p/Bebe-Rais-100083148649996/
Another place we visited was the Nelson Head in Horsey.
I had a ham sandwich so thick, the ham was actually more chunky than the bread, and Kerry went for loaded nachos.
It’s a traditional country pub with friendly staff and dog-friendly and staff provided water bowls and treats for the dogs.
They are also allowed to sit on the furniture, which is always nice.
Visit the website here: http://thenelsonhead.com/
We also visited the Star Inn in Lessingham, where the fish finger sandwiches on chunky white bread were a much-needed lunchtime snack.
This is a traditional country pub, and we loved this sign about what visitors can expect.
Staff were friendly and didn’t bat an eyelid when Patch rolled around on the floor for a tummy tickle.
There are many, many dog-friendly places across the county and you’ll find a round-up on East Ruston’s website so you can find places near you.
Goodies for the dogs
Patch was in his element when we went to Hemsby and he sniffed out Mr Marvin’s Doggy Deli.
This is a deli close to the beach where dogs can choose their own natural treats, from pig’s ears to deer legs and all kinds of other things that we’d never dream of eating ourselves.
Patch picked the biggest pig’s ear you could possibly see, along with a few other hairy horrors to bring back and share with his friends Bertie and Shadow.
We knew dog-friendly Norfolk would be a trip to remember and it really did blow our socks off.
From the incredible welcome basket we were greeted with on arrival to the gorgeous golden beaches and the tranquility of the Norfolk Broads and the scenic countryside, it really is the most perfect place.
Sue and the team at East Ruston Cottages know exactly what dog owners want and move heaven and earth to ensure you have a stay to remember.
To find out more visit: https://www.eastrustoncottages.co.uk/
Massive thanks to Kerry from Fur and Fables for the images on this post. Kerry is a commercial dog photographer and you can see her work here: www.furandfables.com
And if you have any questions at all, send me an email, email@example.com or find us on social media.
On Facebook here: https://www.facebook.com/thepawpostuk
On Instagram here: https://www.instagram.com/thepawpostuk
On LinkedIn here: https://www.linkedin.com/in/rachelspenceruk/
- We were gifted a stay at Woodpecker Lodge in return for an honest review.
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