The man planting the seeds of change at Burnham Deepdale
From farming the land to promoting the county Jason Borthwick has always found himself returning to Norfolk. Now he is working hard to create something special on the North Norfolk Coast.
While he would not describe himself as a farmer as such, Jason Borthwick has
spent a lot of time at his family’s farm in Burnham Deepdale.
He has helped to plant the seeds of change which have seen parts of the
1000-acre holding become a campsite and hostel as well as regenerating a petrol
station to become a unique shopping complex almost within sight of the sea.
Thousands come to Dalegate Market’s Deepdale Christmas Market each year and
Mr Borthwick estimates a 250,000 visitors come to the farm and market every 12
He said: “I always enjoy telling people about Norfolk and showing it to them.
“I think people like to discover it and they like the fact that most other
people can’t point to it on a map.
“The tourism industry is a massive part of Norfolk but it still doesn’t feel
full. It’s not crowded.
“The nice thing about Norfolk is that there are always times when it calms
The family have had a connection to the area since the 1930s when Mr
Borthwick’s great-grandfather came to Norfolk to escape London life.
Mr Borthwick, 44, said: “I’m the fourth generation of the family to develop
“My great-grandfather bought Deepdale, I think more as a bolt-hole from
“The family returned to London and realised Norfolk was where they wanted to
“I think each generation of the family has doubled the size of the business,
both in terms of land and in terms of involvement.
“When I took over Deepdale I wasn’t massive on the farming side of things but
I saw the potential for other things.”
It was while he was abroad that Mr Borthwick started to formulate a plan to
do something different with the family’s land back home, with the aim of showing
others the beauty of the Norfolk coast.
“I travelled extensively for a number of years after I left university,” said
“I worked for a travel company and I was training people about places I had
never been to so I began to travel. I travelled a lot and absolutely loved it. I
worked in various places including for the UN in southern Africa.
“I had a massive passion for travel and the north Norfolk coast was the sort
of place I had been seeking out when travelling.
“My parents had been running a sort of hostel and campsite in the summer
already but that was when I decided developing Deepdale as a tourist destination
was what I wanted to do. Anybody who works in the tourism industry needs to
travel around to see the world.
“Norfolk is wonderful but I think you need to see other places to really
appreciate that in some ways.”
It was still a little while before the dream could be realised but after a
few years working for Virgin he set about it.
“Farming is a bit like gambling, you stick something in the ground and then
hope it is worth something in 12 months time,” said Mr Borthwick. “I wanted to
do something different.
“We opened the campsite and the backpackers’ hostel all year round and
“Part of that included a small cafe which was run by a friend, but it started
to outgrow its space and when we got the chance to buy back the old filling
station it moved to there and became part of Dalegate Market.” The Dalegate
Market Complex recently celebrated its 10th birthday and boasts shops including
The Hare and Hen Gallery and Craft Shop, Gone Crabbing, Relish Boutique and the
One Stop Nature Shop.
Mr Borthwick, who lives with his wife Emma and daughter Ava, 11, in Aylsham,
is also keen to create a connection with the arts world and a number of
performances have already been lined up for the summer including productions of
Gulliver’s Travels and A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
He said: “Norfolk has a wonderful arts scene and I would like to see more
collaboration between the arts and tourism industry, whether that is artists
such as painters or whether it is theatre and music.”
Another recent addition is the Deepdale Spring Market, held for the first
time this Easter which proved popular.
Doug Faulkner - Eastern Daily Press