Holkham Hall and Beach

Holkham Beach at sunset, Norfolk

“The machine that takes you up the stairs in the hall was cool.” Oliver, 9

A visit to Holkham is hugely rewarding. The hall, a massive Palladian mansion, is complemented by several other attractions – the Bygones Museum, a three-thousand-acre park, a lake and, of course, the expansive sands of Holkham Beach.

For stately home fans, the hall has two must-see rooms – the magnificent Marble Hall and the Library, while green-fingered visitors will find the restoration of the walled garden interesting. Outdoors, there are acres of space for children to run around. The lake is brimming with wildlife, while the park is home to a herd of eight hundred fallow deer. Like the four miles of beach, the park has many walks and cycle routes – the excellent website has detailed directions for every trail. The Bygones Museum is due to close for refurbishment for part of 2015: check the website for further information and exact details.

The beach is part of the Holkham National Nature Reserve: in summer you may be lucky enough to see dark green fritillary butterflies whip by, and in winter there are flocks of larks, finches and pipits. There’s a one-mile walk with raised boardwalks that is particularly suitable for disabled visitors and provides breathtaking views: the website has full details. Pay and display parking is available on Lady Anne’s Drive, leading up to the beach, with three designated disabled bays.

Six disabled parking bays are located on the main drive, at the Hall end of the coach park, 165 yards from the pottery yard where the ticket office, museum, shop and café are located. Each of these venues is accessible to wheelchair users, and disabled visitors may be dropped off outside the entrance to the Hall. A metal ramp is available at the hall entrance. The main rooms are on the first floor, but the excellent, trained staff can operate the Jolly Stairclimber – an inventive piece of equipment that works much like a tank, and is compatible with most manual wheelchairs. Powered scooter users who can transfer are able to borrow manual chairs to make the journey up to the State Rooms, but otherwise wheelchairs aren’t available to rent. Blue Badge holders can park at the Walled Gardens, avoiding a ten- to fifteen-minute walk from the hall, though transport is available to all between the two sites as well. Within the gardens some of the gravel paths are uneven. Large print and Braille transcripts are available. A comprehensive Access Statement containing detailed information on every part of the estate – including door widths, gradients, counter heights and lighting – is available by post, email, online and from the venue.

Food & drink: The Stable café serves delicious food using local produce, a variety of hot and cold dishes, snacks and sandwiches.