Covering the coast, Burnham Market, Wells, Holt & surrounding villages

Fakenham revisited: the downtime edition

21st April 2022

From a day at the races, to nature spotting and a history trail, Sarah Hardy shares some fun activities in and around the town

Entertainment

Fakenham boasts its own cinema, Central Cinema, (www.fakenhamcinema.co.uk) which has three screens and is housed in the former Corn Exchange where all the latest movies are shown. There is also the Super Bowl (www.fakenhamsuperbowl.co.uk) which offers 10-pin bowls plus the latest craze – Escape Rooms!

History

Did you know that the town’s full name is Fakenham Lancaster? John of Gaunt, 1st Duke of Lancaster, was given the Manor of Fakenham in 1377 after losing lands in France. You can find out more fascinating facts about the town’s history by following the interactive Fakenham Lancaster Heritage Trail (www.flht.co.uk), which has more than 30 plaques to discover, each with a QR code to scan. It can also be enjoyed tech-free, and a Heritage Trail booklet will be on sale in April. 

Fakenham Market Place c.1908, courtesy of Fakenham & District Community Archive
www.fakenhamcommunityarchive.weebly.com

Sport

Fakenham Sports and Fitness Centre (www.everyoneactive.com) is the place to go for exercise classes, gym workouts and wellbeing sessions. A whole range of classes is covered from badminton to Pilates. The town also has its own football club, rugby club, cricket club, tennis club and a popular nine-hole golf course at the racecourse.

Get active

Active Fakenham  (www.activefakenham.org.uk) is a small voluntary group working with local clubs, organisations and businesses to initiate, organise and promote activities that enrich the health and wellbeing of the town’s residents and visitors. 

Active Fakenham Riverside Community Day, 2021 © Warwick Jones

Richard Crook, Active Fakenham Chair says: “This year we have an exciting range of activities starting with the Easter Sunday Funday which includes closing a 1k circuit in the town centre to hold a 5k lap running race, a 1k fun run and some thrilling cycle Criterium lap racing. In June we will hold the Great Fakenham Duck Race and cardboard raft races on the river Wensum and in August we have nine days of taster sessions organized by local clubs and businesses which ends with a cycle sportive open to everyone.

“We aim to make these opportunities as inclusive as possible, and they are all either free or low cost. We cater for all ages and abilities and include sports, culture, arts, music and more.”

For nature lovers

Sculthorpe Moor Nature Reserve, run by the Hawk and Owl Trust (www.hawkandowltrust.org), is perfect for bird watching and wildlife spotting with boardwalks, bird feeders and hides. It’s a few miles outside the town, in the peaceful Wensum Valley, and at just 45-acres, is very family friendly.

Pensthorpe Natural Park (www.pensthorpe.com) is just a couple of miles outside Fakenham and one of the county’s top tourist attractions. It boasts a 700-acre nature and conservation woodland reserve, eco-friendly play areas, a great shop and a popular cafe.

Pensthorpe Natural Park © Steve Adams

It’s a haven for birds and wildlife and a wonderful place for children to learn more about the natural world – and let off a bit of steam. There’s always something interesting happening, from talks to guided walks. 

Pensthorpe is also home to Creative Chiro (www.creativechiro.co.uk), an award-winning patient-centred practice offering chiropractic, rehabilitation, clinical and therapeutic massage and reflexology. “After nine years in Holt, we moved to Pensthorpe Natural Park in 2016,” says Business Director, Linda l’Anson. “We were drawn both to the beauty and tranquillity of the park and its convenient location close to the bustling town of Fakenham, with its Thursday market and the racecourse, which is a great place for a family day out.  This central location makes us perfectly situated to offer our services to people in the towns and villages of North Norfolk.”

Let’s go racing

Fakenham Racecourse  (www.fakenhamracecourse.co.uk) is a big part of the town’s history and race days are much enjoyed by families today. The two-storey Prince of Wales Stand is quite the place to be, with great views over the course, and catering is provided by The Crown Inn at East Rudham (www.crowninnnorfolk.co.uk). 

Fakenham Racecourse © Leaderboard Photography

The Crown’s owner, Tristan McEwen, explains how much work is involved leading up to what is a fast and furious but very rewarding day, saying: “We are very fortunate to have a fantastic team, and consistency, efficiency and timing are key on the day.” The Crown likes to support local suppliers as much as possible and also offers a race day package which includes an overnight stay.

You can hire the Grandstand for weddings and other celebrations, and there is also a camping and caravan site at the racecourse which is very popular.