Exploring a North Norfolk gem with the U3A

People taking part in a North Norfolk U3A outing to Holt Country Park. 

People taking part in a North Norfolk U3A outing to Holt Country Park. - Credit: Supplied by David Riddle

In his latest column, David Riddle from the North Norfolk U3A (University of the Third Age), talks about Holt Country Park and other goings-on.

A little gem in North Norfolk is Holt Country Park.

Just to the south of Holt this pretty and varying woodland (and a Green Flag-winning site) is owned by North Norfolk District Council and open throughout the year.

There are some wonderful photographic opportunities to be had at Holt Country Park. 

There are some wonderful photographic opportunities to be had at Holt Country Park. - Credit: David Riddle of the North Norfolk U3A

The park has several well marked trails, ranging from a short children’s trail to a feature trail of 1.8 miles.

They all start and end at the car park. You can walk as far as you fancy, really, because the trails intersect, allowing you to follow all the routes if you want, a total of nearly eight miles of easy walking.

All within a safe, fenced, 100 acres of woodland of pines and native trees.

There are some wonderful photographic opportunities to be had at Holt Country Park. 

There are some wonderful photographic opportunities to be had at Holt Country Park. - Credit: David Riddle of the North Norfolk U3A

Once you are in the park, you’d never know you were so close to the A148 and the centre of busy Holt.

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For enthusiasts of the natural world, Holt Country Park offers many kinds of butterflies, seasonal flowers, birds, and deer.

There is plenty of woodland art too in the form of sculptures and carvings.

There’s a picnic area (when the weather allows) a children’s play area, toilets, and a super tea room where you can stock up on energy before you set off, or reward yourself at the end, with tasty bacon butties and some super cakes.

Next to the park is a large area of wild heathland that you can wander into – but beware the livestock, including wild ponies, on the heath.

It’s no wonder that Holt Country Park is a go-to location for photographers. The Digital Photography Group in North Norfolk U3A went there recently for a photoshoot.

David Riddle of the North Norfolk U3A

David Riddle of the North Norfolk U3A. - Credit: Supplied by David Riddle

You can see some of the “snappers” and get a sense of the vistas in the photos with this article.

Our flourishing Digital Photography Group welcomes new members.

They meet every month at High Kelling Village Hall. Each meeting discusses the project work done by members in the past month and then spends time on an aspect of photography technique or theory to develop our learning.

Speaking for myself, it is always encouraging to be in the company of so many enthusiastic and skilled photographers, and I know that my “snapping” has improved from being in this group. You can see what the group does on the U3A website at www.northnorfolku3a.org.uk. or on their dedicated website www.dpgvp.weebly.com.

There you will find lots more images from their photoshoot at Holt Country Park, and at the Holt and Sheringham Forties Weekend.

It has been exciting to see our U3A activities starting up again now that the Covid restrictions have been eased.

Let’s hope that the current increase in cases in England, and Norfolk, will not result in another lockdown.

Most of our interest groups have resumed their meetings, and we have started again our monthly meetings with speakers at Blakeney Village Hall on the third Wednesday of each month.

We even managed to arrange a coach trip to Bury St Edmunds - one of several trips planned in the year ahead.

In the next few months our meetings will include talks on Sir Isaac Walton: Man of Gravitas; the memoirs of the first female firefighter in England; wildlife photography of Big Cats; and a Life in Policing by the former Chief Constable of Norfolk and Police Scotland, Phil Gormley QPM, who is now the head of East Anglia Children’s Hospice.

Again, have a look at our website to see what joining U3A can bring you.

I read recently that ageism is widespread in our society and can be found everywhere from workplaces and health systems to stereotypes we see on TV in advertising and in the media.

It affects people of all ages, and one in three people say they have experienced age-based prejudice or discrimination.

Covid has accentuated some of these issues, from the labelling of all people over 70 as “vulnerable” to debating the value of protecting people in later life.

The kind of automatic link made between our chronological age and vulnerability overlooks the diversity of health and abilities of older adults, instead painting later life as a time of dependency.

The reality is very different. In the workplace over a third of workers are over 50.

Older workers are the backbone of our public services. 3.4 million key workers are over 50 and 130,00 are over 70. Older adults have a wealth of experience and perspectives to offer to society today, as workers, volunteers, leaders and teachers.

Bravo the Queen, who recently declined the 'Oldies Award' saying, “Her Majesty believes you are as old as you feel, as such the Queen does not believe she meets the relevant criteria to be able to accept and hopes you find a more worthy recipient”.

To see a bunch of lively, active, intelligent, funny, and independent older adults, (not to mention extremely good photographers) well just join us and join in!

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