On safari in Norfolk
By Henry Giles
These are exciting times at Snettisham Park. Only three years ago a brand new visitor centre was built on what is a working farm now fully geared up for visitors and holidaymakers with easy access from nearby King’s Lynn and Hunstanton in the spring and summer months.
The focus of a great day out in the countryside is a 45 minute trip in a tractor and covered trailer deer safari ride. On a bright and sunny spring day but with a biting March wind, two rangers took us out to see the herd of red deer – impressive, large adults with youngsters also in the herd. Although some of the younger stags had antlers, the bigger ones had them removed: sad in a way to lose their iconic headgear – but necessary for obvious reasons as stags would fight often to the death in the rutting season otherwise.
We fed them pellets from the trailer so a real close-up experience was inevitable as big stags poked their heads through to where we were sitting. Some were swimming in the lake, but some were ‘very muddy’ said our daughter.
For lunch or a snack there are tables outside which you can sit on to eat but if you have children with you there are footballs to play with. And there are cranes you can sit on to dig up stones, which proved great fun for ours, as Mum and Dad could relax with a coffee as the budding young farmers burned off excess energy. On a cold-ish day in March for our visit, it was a relief to then move inside in the visitor centre where the tearoom adjoins a gift shop with interesting and good quality pocket money treats and toys. There you can buy venison (a whole side of a deer if you want) and fresh eggs. Food on offer with plenty of seating included some excellent home made cakes and hot food including carrot and coriander soup and meat pasties.
This is a working farm and on arrival we went staright to the lambing barn where Pippa and Ella (both seven years old) fed the ‘orphan’ lambs with bottles which were quite strong and bounced around a bit and, said Pippa, shook their heads as they drank.
In the adjacent barn lambs were being born, and one had ‘popped’ five minutes before our arrival, with another sheep in labour. A total of 250 ewes on the farm were lambing or ready to lamb.
Other activities for children in the barn included Guinea pig cuddling, pony grooming (with Shetland ponies Barney and Dora), calf feeding and egg collection – but with ponies at home and eggs to collect- all right we have four but Snettisham has 60! – this was not a priority for this party! All activities are well organised and timetabled so you can plan your day.
All is set in rolling (quite hilly actually for Norfolk) countryside, with extensive farm trails to explore and the archeological site of Snettisham Park, with its story of 12,000 years of Norforlk landscape and the people who have shaped it, going back to the days of Roman Britain when it was a busy landscape of metalworkers, potters, farmers and fishermen. Not least also the church of St Mary, with 650 years of history.
All in all this was a satisfying and full day out, with plenty to connect with the landscape and a good antidote to the long wet winter. An enormous amount of resource and effort has been put into the experience by the Snettisham team and a successful holiday season should beckon.
Adults, farm only £4; Deer safari only £8; Farm and Safari £10 (Season ticket, farm only, £25). Children £3, £6, £8
Familly tickets, farm only £12, Deer safari only, £25, Combined farm and safari £32.
Snettisham Park, Snettisham, King’s Lynn, Norfolk PE31 7NG
Tel: 01485 542425 Visit website