In the first of a new series on trips to do by train, bus, boat or bike, our car-free columnist kicks off with green projects, from nature reserves to a brewery
There’s art as well as nature among these 280-plus hectares of woods, marshes and wildflower meadows, with the River Wensum winding through them. Dutch garden designer Piet Oudolf created one of four on-site gardens: a waterside oasis that looks good even in winter with intricate seed heads, golden grasses and a Monet-style bridge. The gardens and sculptures integrated into the park intensify the natural shapes and colours in the wider, wildlife-rich landscape, whether it’s a mossy willow by the Wensum or a weeping silver birch by Moon Water (Pensthorpe’s main lake). BBC Springwatch was filmed in the park three years running, looking out for badgers, barn owls and bullfinches. There are bird hides to observe the varied habitats, plus crowd-pleasing resident flamingos and timber play areas, indoors and out. Pensthorpe’s owners, Deb Jordan and husband Bill (of Jordans Cereals) opened a new Wetland Discovery area here in 2018.
Open Daily 10am-4pm, online tickets adult £11.95, 3-16s £10.95, pensthorpe.com
Get there X29 bus from Norwich to nearby Fakenham, which stops at the end of the drive, day ticket £4.80.
Eat Pensthorpe’s Courtyard cafe has a big tasty menu, from soup of the day (£4.95) or spuds, salad and quiche (£8.95) to apple crumble and custard (£4.50).