Diss, Norfolk is a market town that lies close to the Suffolk border. There are plenty of things to do in Diss, from hanging out with alpacas to riding vintage railways. If you fancy venturing further out, the town’s central location makes it a great base to visit the Norfolk Broads, as well as the Suffolk and the North Norfolk coast.
Diss is known for its mere, one of the deepest natural inland lakes in Britain. It’s around 60 feet deep, and contains 40 feet of mud. The origin of the mere has been a source of speculation, from a crater left by a meteor, to the mouth of a volcano. The lake is in fact a natural basin which was formed by collapsed chalk bedrock at the end of the ice age. For as long as it has existed, Diss Mere has been at the centre of life in the town. During the harsh winters of the 19th century, people would hold ice carnivals with fancy dress on the frozen lake, and in one year a cricket match was played on it. During the summer months, the lake would be full of people swimming, fishing and raft racing. Today, it’s a great place to wander around, spot some wildlife, and relax in the park on the banks of the lake.
Things to Do in Diss
Bressingham Steam and Gardens
Since the early 60s, the Bressingham Steam and Gardens have been a wonderful collection of plants and steam powered locomotives. The themed gardens cover almost 20 acres and have over 8,000 species of plants. The best way to explore the gardens is, of course, by steam engine! There are four railways at Bressingham which run over four miles around the gardens and woodlands. Fans of Dad’s Army will enjoy a visit to the extensive collection belonging to the Dad’s Army Appreciation Society, including a lifesize recreation of Walmington on Sea. All ages will enjoy a ride on the gallopers, originally built in 1897.
Whether it’s a rainy day or you’re interested in history, a visit to the Diss Museum should be on your itinerary. There are a variety of displays, including a 19th century doll’s house, old photos of the town, memorabilia from local businesses, Roman treasures and a carousel about the Mere. The museum often holds presentations and themed walks around town, which are a fun way to sightsee. Join a cemetery and murder tour to learn more about the last public hanging, a damsel poisoned by a medieval king, and the mistress of a notorious prisoner.
Being so close to the border with Suffolk means that Diss has Knettishall Heath right on its doorstep. This nature reserve is a Site of Special Scientific Interest, and there are several trails around the area ranging from 1 to 2.5 miles long. It’s home to a diverse landscape of habitats, including woodland, riverside meadows and heathland. If you’re lucky, you might spot rare species like the grey carpet moth. Venture onto Hut Hill and you’ll see the remains of a Bronze Age burial mound.
In the south Norfolk countryside, you’ll find a small herd of eleven friendly alpacas waiting to meet you. Trelawn Alpacas is a small sanctuary about 15 minutes drive from the centre of Diss. During the 90 minute alpaca experience, you’ll be able to get up close and personal with the gentle creatures, and you’re welcome to bring carrots and apples to feed them.
Places to Stay in Diss
The Park Hotel
Within walking distance of the town centre, The Park Hotel offers a large selection of comfortable, individually decorated rooms with modern amenities. Enjoy locally sourced food and drink at the restaurant and bar, or relax in the lounge and garden.
Cart Lodge Breaks
If you’re looking for a self-catering holiday home, Cart Lodge Breaks is the perfect rural retreat. It features two bedrooms, two bathrooms, a fully equipped kitchen and a living room. After a day of exploring, relax on the terrace and enjoy views over the lake and greenery.
Cobwebs Bed & Breakfast
This 18th century character cottage is a comfortable and homely B&B. Right next to the Waveney River, the B&B is only a few minutes walk from the centre of Diss. The rooms are decorated in a simple country style, with modern amenities including TV and tea and coffee making facilities.
Places to Eat & Drink in Diss
If you’re in need of some comforting home-cooked food, Weavers is the best restaurant in town. With cosy seating, large windows and original period beams, Weavers is a great place to enjoy traditional British food and wine.
Amandines Restaurant has been serving up vegetarian and vegan cooking for over 28 years. Set in a quaint little courtyard amongst converted Victorian warehouses, the restaurant also has a regular programme of live music events.
Located within the Diss Heritage Triangle, Number 11 serves homemade, seasonal meals. Using fresh, locally-sourced ingredients from Norfolk and Suffolk, you’ll find a variety of meat, seafood and vegetarian dishes.