Great Yarmouth. First things first, that is categorically misleading.
It was a typical British summertime weekend and the rain was hammering down on the windscreen as we drove further in to the darkness that was rapidly consuming the Acle Straight. It wasn’t the most auspicious start to any trip and it quickly transpired that no element of the day was set to reach the acclaimed heights of ‘Great’.
Having seen cows laying down as we left Norwich for the coast – and debated at length whether this means the weather is unlikely to improve – we should really have turned around but as the first weekend of the alleged ‘summer’, we thought it only right to go to the seaside.
Despite the persistent and heavy showers, the car parks along the seafront were all full – I can only assume with other disillusioned visitors who were probably holed-up in one of the many arcades, pumping 2p coins into the machines and hoping for a break in the clouds.
We found a back street to park for free outside the Greek Orthodox Church of St Spyridon and made our way to the seafront dodging puddles and gangs of teenagers standing around waiting for the rain to soak through their hoods.
The Golden Mile was an underwhelming blur of grey, interspersed with garish gaming arcades playing tinny music, monotone bingo callers and the stench of fried onions and steaming donuts blowing out of cafes on wheels.
Bedraggled donkeys looked mournful on the beach without a rider in sight as their owner took shelter under the pier. The rain continued to lash down over Joyland where a few hapless parents had been forced to ride the roller-coaster to appease moaning children. The carriages emerged in and out of tunnels with faces looking more strained and soaked with each twist and turn.
We weren’t faring much better as we took temporary respite in the pier amusements to eat food prepared without the use of gloves and the bonus of a free hair on the napkin.
In a bid to turn things around we made a break for the shops as the clouds gave momentary relief. We left the pier and headed up Regent Road which is lined with discount stores, holiday tat and innumerable oversized tourists who seemed to have been rendered incapable of waddling quickly despite the threat of another imminent downpour.
It was a pleasure to see the number of people who had turned out in shorts and sandals despite the forecast and were valiantly keeping alive the British spirit to show a blatant disregard for the elements and dress for the Costa del Sol on any given day between June and September.
The trip was summed up when we walked past a dad who loudly declared to his family “Bloody hell, it’s only half past three!”.
Relieved that we hadn’t been able to park for £1.50 an hour and were under no obligation to string things out further, we ran back the car laughing at the series of events that had conspired to make the day miserable.
Slumped in our seats with wet hair and soggy jeans we did the only thing you can do to make a trip to rainy Yarmouth end well – take the A47 out of there… as fast as you can!
Maybe on another day…
If you are lucky enough to see the seaside town on a sunny day, I’m sure it’s cast in a rather different light, like anywhere.
Great Yarmouth is a market town, 20 miles east of Norwich, sandwiched between the North Sea and the river Yare. The resort is linked to Gorleston, Cobholm and Southtown by Haven Bridge and to the A47, A149 and A12 by the Breydon Bridge.
The Golden Mile is the stretch of road along the seafront where you’ll find restaurants, arcades, shops and entertainment.
High street shopping can be found at the top of Regent Road and at Market Gates shopping mall.
Visit Joyland for rides for small children and The Pleasure Beach for older children and adults.
Great Yarmouth has two piers, Britannia and Wellington. The first is the main attraction for shows and visiting comedians.
Nightlife gets rowdy along the Marine Parade, the town centre and at the end of the Britannia Pier.
History and Museums:
The Tolhouse (Tolhouse Street NR30 2SH) is 13th century and thought to be the oldest civic building in Britain. Take the tour and find out about crime and punishment in Great Yarmouth through the ages.
The Time & Tide museum is also very popular and can be found on Blackfriars road (NR30 3BX). Time & Tide occupies the premises of the Tower Fish Curing Works, originally built c.1850. The museum tells the story of Great Yarmouth and its herring industry and the lingering aroma of the smokehouse remains today. If you think that’s preferable to onions and donuts, it’s worth a look.
The bus station is found at the Market Gates shopping centre and the train station connects Yarmouth to Norwich by the Wherry Lines.
There are two train routes to Norwich, one via Acle and Lingwood and the other via Reedham, Berney Arms and Cantley – both routes join up at Brundall railway station where they continue to Norwich.
Parking is difficult and there are a few back road where you can park for free – some for 2 hours and some for 24. We parked along St Peter’s Street but pay attention to signs, many of the roads have designated 2-hour areas very close to permit zones.
Visit the official tourist site www.great-yarmouth.co.uk