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Venue focus: Hunstanton Park

This 15th-century Norfolk venue's idyllic blend of woodland, pasture and coast enables us to introduce you to a fantastic range of species. Explore the local area and you'll find a Victorian seaside resort, stunning national trails and a haven for seals

Hunstanton Hall viewed across the moat

Hunstanton Park, Norfolk

Hunstanton Park surrounds the privately owned Hunstanton Hall: a moated grade I-listed building that dates from the 15th century. It was the ancestral home of the Le Strange family, who were gifted the land by William The Conqueror and remained in residence until World War II, when the house was sold. It is famed for its association with the author PG Wodehouse, creator of the much-loved Jeeves and Wooster characters, who was a friend of Charles Le Strange and a frequent visitor during the early 20th century. The hall features in his novel Money for Nothing (1928) and his collection of short stories Very Good, Jeeves (1930).

This estate, which is also privately owned, has a great deal to offer, with woodland, waterways, pasture, an ancient walled garden and beaches providing a wonderful array of species. It's a great venue to learn about umbellifers, including the "forgotten vegetable" Alexanders, which can usually be found in abundance. Alexanders is just one of a number of introduced Roman species to be spotted in the grounds, attesting to the long settlement history of this site. It's also a good place to see lamb's lettuce, an often overlooked gourmet salad leaf. During the spring, we are sometimes treated to a spectacular display of orchids, while in summer, our courses take place on the beach and are focussed on coastal plants (no seaweeds present).

This venue is a great choice if you want to create a day-trip or even a longer getaway. Hunstanton Park is located in and around the 19th-century seaside resort Hunstanton, which faces west across The Wash — meaning that even though it is on the east coast of Britain, you can still watch the sun set over the sea. The Le Strange family started to develop this resort in 1846, building a railway line that came from King's Lynn and was once one of the most profitable in the country. Modern-day Hunstanton has retained much of its original Victorian gothic revival architecture and also boasts a fairground, aquarium, seal sanctuary, theatre, amusement arcades and a long promenade. The Wash hosts one of the largest colonies of common seals in the UK — numbering more than 3,000 — and when the weather is favourable visitors can take “sea safaris” from Hunstanton by boat to view them basking on the sandbars.

Hunstanton neighbours the original village settlement Old Hunstanton, which gained its name from the River Hun and which begins in the grounds of the park. If you enjoy walking, the village lies near to the head of the 46-mile Peddars Way national trail and is also the origin of the 84-mile Norfolk Coastal Path. The area benefits from some quiet cliff top walks, which take you past a redundant lighthouse and ruined 13th-century chapel.

See the dates for courses at Hunstanton Park here

Always make sure you are 100% sure of your identification before consuming any plant or mushroom


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