Bircham Windmill near Hunstanton was a big surprise in many ways. It did not look encouraging when we pulled up to the campsite in the pouring rain, struggling to find our pitch and without a soul in sight. Overnight the weather cleared, the campsite filled up with more hardy campers and the mill came to life. Despite the unseasonably cold temperatures, we found plenty to do on the site. Over the course of the weekend, we discovered we had found a West Norfolk hidden gem.
Climbing the Windmill
We’ve been inside a few windmills, but we have never had the chance to climb to the top. The experience was made doubly impressive because this is a working windmill, although all the moving parts are stationary while visitors scale the ladders to the top. The views from the top are impressive, and you can get the full 360 degrees by walking all the way around. Just as remarkable is the machinery, cogs and information on the way up.
As you ascend visual and audio displays tell the story of the people who once worked in the mill. Keep an eye out for the sleeping cat too.
Making Bread in a Windmill
This is the first time I have come across a bread-making experience suitable for children, and it was inside the same windmill where the flour was made. They didn’t try to overcomplicate the process. We were given a lump of dough to knead that had already had its first prove. After a bit of prodding, the kids cut out shapes with cookie cutters and put them on a tray for their second prove and baking. Simple, uncomplicated, and the kids loved it. They also loved eating their creations.
Play Area and Animals
The grounds here are small, but there is plenty to entertain the children while you enjoy a coffee and cake from the cafe. The play area is equipped with a slide, sandpit and ride on toys. The garden area is surrounded by animals, including donkeys, sheep and chickens. You can feed with pellets from the machine.
Bircham Windmill Museum
The museum walks you through a miller’s cottage with interactive displays and a friendly cat. The most popular part of the experience with my children was the newest area. My 6-year-old would have happily played with the magnetic cogs all day while the 4-year-old enjoyed making rubbings and paying with the toys. There is also a movie room which plays films of various lengths about the windmill and its history.
Bircham Windmill Tea Room and Bakery
The cafe and attached bakery/gift shop serve bread, cakes and pastries made fresh with flour from the mill. There’s a queue of locals in the bakery at opening time on Saturday, so it must be good. I recommend trying the Bircham bun, the bakery’s take on the Chelsea bun.
Bircham Windmill Campsite Review
The campsite attached to Bircham Windmill has all the basics. The pitches are all grass. A few have electric, and there are a couple of Shepherd’s huts as well. This makes for a good mix of campers and while we were there it was a lovely family atmosphere. There is plenty of space in the camping fields for the kids to play together when the weather’s good, and if it’s not, you can head up to the games room.
The campsite has all the facilities you expect from a well equipped site. The only thing we missed was a drive over grey water drain but that wouldn’t affect most people.
Bircham Windmill Review
Bircham Windmill is a lovely little attraction with a little something for everyone. We were excited about the bakery but we were not expecting all the things to do for kids. Playgrounds, education, bread making and the excitement of climbing to the top of a windmill. All of this within easy reach of excellent baked goods.