Staycation: Sculthorpe Mill, Norfolk
by Abigail Spooner
This historic 18th-century pub has been revamped by sisters Siobhan and Caitriona Peyton into a destination for gastro-pub aficionados and British food lovers, says Abigail Spooner
Where is it?
Surrounded by farmland and close to the market town of Fakenham. Sculthorpe Mill is also a short drive from Norfolk’s unspoilt coastline.
What’s the accommodation like?
Our large, recently renovated suite is in the eaves and is decorated in bold shades of teal and yellow – there’s also a luxury en suite featuring a walk-in rainfall shower and locally produced rose-scented toiletries. The picturesque view is of the River Wensum, and its ebb and flow has an immediately calming effect.
What did you eat and drink?
Head chef Elliot Ketley puts provenance at the heart of his seasonally changing menu, and the food is refined but still satisfyingly hearty. The pub is firmly on the gastronomic map and was awarded a Michelin Bib Gourmand at the start of 2022. Kiln-smoked salmon is produced at Staithe Smokehouse down the road and is perfectly paired with beetroot pickle and freshly baked and buttered Guinness soda bread (a secret Peyton family recipe). I savour every mouthful of the crisp-skinned Norfolk duck leg confit that takes centre stage on my main-course plate. It’s fall-off-the-bone tender and sits on a bed of sautéed sprout tops with sage and onion stuffing and a sweet-and-sour cranberry sauce.
A knickerbocker glory on the dessert menu takes me back to childhood memories of trips to the seaside and has to be ordered. Scoops of ice cream are piled high in a retro sundae glass with spiced pears, a flourish of whipped cream, toasted almonds for crunch and a scarlet red cherry on top. Sheer sweet-toothed indulgence.
What is there to do?
Sculthorpe Moor Nature Reserve is just next door and is a haven for wildlife, whether you’re ambling along the boardwalks or taking silent shelter in the elevated treetop hide. For further leg-stretching, I can also recommend a long and bracing walk along the golden expanse of nearby Holkham beach.
The soothing babble of the River Wensum and the platter of Old Spot pork sausage rolls that sit temptingly on the bar.
Sainsbury's magazine insider tip
Opt for the hearty full English at breakfast, which has a spotlight on local produce. It’s sure to set you up for the day!
How to book
Bed and breakfast rates start from £110 per night for two people. Visit sculthorpemill.uk