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When will town’s seven ‘essential’ tourist spots re-open?

PUBLISHED: 18:15 11 June 2020

Fakenham Racecourse will not see racing until October. Picture: Fakenham Racecourse

Fakenham Racecourse will not see racing until October. Picture: Fakenham Racecourse

© Raymond Taylor

As lockdown measures continue to ease, reporter AARON MCMILLAN looked at one north Norfolk town’s top tourist attractions and what they will look like after the coronavirus.

Pensthorpe are still making plans ahead of reopening Credit: SuppliedPensthorpe are still making plans ahead of reopening Credit: Supplied

According to Fakenham’s TripAdvisor page, there are seven locations considered to be ‘essential’ on your visit to the town. From nature reserves to antiques and gardens, how will these places look when they reopen?

Pensthorpe Natural Park

Pensthorpe Natural Park is preparing for a phased reopening, but no date has been set.

A park spokesman said some areas would remain closed, including the catering and children’s play area, but temporary solutions would be put in place. These would include opening up other previously inaccessible areas and offering takeaway food and drinks.

Sculthorpe Moor are ready to reopen their doors on June 15. Picture: Ian BurtSculthorpe Moor are ready to reopen their doors on June 15. Picture: Ian Burt

The spokesperson said: “Government guidelines are changing rapidly, as we can see with the latest decision regarding the reopening of zoos, so are having to adapt and adjust our reopening plans on a daily basis, which does make it challenging.”

Sculthorpe Moor Nature Reserve

The Hawk and Owl Trust’s nature reserve is prepared to welcome the public back on June 15.

Adrian Blumfield, operations director for the trust, said the site will have social distancing in place, with guides on the ground, screens for their employees and hand sanitiser stations.

Fakenham Museum of Gas is not expected to open again this year.  Picture: Peter BirdFakenham Museum of Gas is not expected to open again this year. Picture: Peter Bird

There will also be one-way systems in place, including in the bird hides. These hides will only allow one person to stand at each window.

Mr Blumfield also said they are requesting visitors to wear masks in respect of other visitors.

Fakenham Racecourse

The next racing meeting in Fakenham will not be until October 16, and they hope they will be able to let people onto the course at that time.

The North Creake Abbey has remained opened during the pandemic. Picture: Lesley BuckleyThe North Creake Abbey has remained opened during the pandemic. Picture: Lesley Buckley

The racecourse is now taking bookings for its camping and caravans site and is hoping to reopen on July 4, depending on government approval.

The campsite will have strict guidelines including no communal toilet or shower block, and 2m social distancing.

Clerk of the course, David Hunter, said: “We want to give people the opportunity to enjoy outdoor space, but we are not going to be policing our site when we reopen, we hope people continue to be sensible and respect spaces.”

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Fakenham Museum of Gas and Local History

Harry Yates, museum director, said due to the staff being made of volunteers over the age of 70, it would be difficult the museum to reopen at all this year.

Mr Yates also said the site does not lend itself to social distancing.

The museum normally opens from May until September and its team has not had time to get the site ready with an extensive clean down. Instead, they will use the time to make improvements to the site.

Fakenham Antiques Centre on Norwich Road is hoping to reopen in July. Picture: Matthew Usher.Fakenham Antiques Centre on Norwich Road is hoping to reopen in July. Picture: Matthew Usher.

Creake Abbey

The abbey ruins have not closed during the coronavirus pandemic. It is an open space where people can walk around and maintain social distancing.

Managers of the shops and food hall around the ruins are still meeting to discuss plans for their re-opening, which they hope will be in July.

Issues to decide on include how they will manage people trying on clothes and service at the food hall. The cafe will remain closed.

Traders said they wanted to create a “Covid safe environment” and have asked people to check their website for updates.

Raynham Hall

The hall has kept the walks at Raynham open during the lockdown.

Charles Townsend, who owns the house, said the building would remain locked for the time being, as they do not have any events planned.

The hall, which hosts concerts, is planning future events and Mr Townsend said that they would host them again when the time is right.

Fakenham Chapel Antiques

The antique shop’s managers said they had no plans to reopen on June 15.

The shop has used the lockdown as a chance to have the roof repaired on the building, which they said had been in a poor state for some time.

They are hoping this will be completed in mid-July when they plan to reopen with ‘Covid safe’ shopping in place, including a one-way system and hand sanitiser stations.


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