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Norfolk

Norfolk Coast Path End of Trip Review

It’s a good idea to review each camping trip after you come back and make notes of what went well, and what, um, didn’t…at all! This is my review of how my three-day backpacking trip on the Norfolk Coast went.

***To read about the trip itself please click on the links at the bottom of this post.***


Disclaimer: Please note that this post may include affiliate links to products which may provide a commission to me at no extra cost to you. For more information, you can read my affiliate disclosure in my privacy policy. All opinions are my own, and I only recommend products I believe in.


In this end of trip review, I am going to go through the different aspects of my Norfolk Coast Path trip. This is something I recommend doing and personally do after all my trips. I find that I easily forget what I was thinking about the gear etc when I get home, so this way I can be clear on what I need to change before the next trip.

I’m going to look at the following: sleep system, clothing, footwear, weather conditions, food and cook system, gear, personal fitness, things I did right, finishing with a conclusion.

Sleep System

Sleeping Bag

I can only speak from my personal experience, but the OEX Fathom Evolution 200 sleeping bag was too cold for me, despite it being summertime in the UK. Or perhaps better said, because it was summer in the UK instead of somewhere warmer. I had between 8 and 10 degrees Celsius nighttime temperature, and both nights I woke up feeling shivery and cooler than I would have liked.

I think this sleeping bag would be perfect for around 15 deg Celcius for me personally. The alternative would be to bring warmer clothes to sleep in (and learn to acclimatise to the cold better).

OEX Fathom Evolution 200 Sleeping Bag Spec

It has to be said though that I am a bit of a wuss when it comes to being cold. I blame spending a good chunk of my life living in Mallorca.

So I leave it to you to decide. Of course, there is the weight to consider, and this sleeping bag weighs in at only 800g, which for the price point is pretty good in my opinion.

Sleep Mat

I can keep dreaming of getting a Thermarest sleep mat. I slept on my budget OEX sleep mat, which is definitely a step up from a roll mat and helps a lot with insulation. However, it is a little on the thin side at 5 cm. This means that I generally have to sleep on my back otherwise my hip ends up on the ground.

It is also quite difficult to inflate as the nozzle lets the air seep out while you’re taking another breath. I’m not sure how to make it better.

Clothing

Camping Clothes

A warm, lightweight puffy jacket would have been a good option in the evenings and as an extra sleeping possibility. The second night, I literally put on ALL of my available clothes (except waterproof jacket) and was still pretty cold. But there weren’t a lot of options really as I didn’t bring much with me. There was basically a fleece and a couple of long-sleeved t-shirts. In hindsight, some thermal leggings and a merino wool top would have been good options.

My Craghoppers hiking trousers, which I’ve had for many years now and are my first pair of proper hiking trousers, are still holding their own and were perfect. I put my running shorts underneath them in the morning. That way it was easy to whip them off when I warmed up as the day got hotter. (It makes it sound like I run, I don’t, I just have running shorts!).

One observation I did have was that it could be useful to have some water-resistant hiking trousers at some point. The Craghoppers do dry out quickly, but they also get wet quickly. Waterproof overtrousers would be too hot in warmer weather.

Footwear

Dare2B Trail Runners 2019

The Dare2B trail runners I wore were basically fine. They cost me about £25-30 in the sales from Go Outdoors about a month before I did the trip.

However, I did have a couple of issues with the upper of the right shoe rubbing on the top of my right foot. It seemed to upset the nerves there or something. The skin was thankfully unbroken though.

They probably needed to be worn-in more, as they were basically brand new before doing long days of back-to-back hiking. At some point I will perhaps spend a bit more, but for now I’m still on a tight budget.

I really just wanted to test them out on longer hikes to see how they faired. Most of the time I am using my hiking boots, so there’s no need to change them just yet.

Buying something that can handle longer distances is important to consider when buying new shoes. I have discovered that cheap shoes don’t last very long and that in the long run, you tend to end up spending more.

The Weather

Always assume it is going to rain in the UK!! Yes, even when the forecast is for sun and not a single cloud!

Rainbow over countryside

It has rained on every single trip I’ve done here so far, and this one was no different. I didn’t bring my waterproof trousers and I should have. Also, as previously mentioned, getting some splashproof water-resistant hiking trousers would be a good idea for the future.

Food and Cook System

Before going I thought I’d planned my meals well enough, but afterwards, I realised that in future trips I would need to be much more detailed than I was this time.

It’s better to create a really detailed meal plan in advance of what you’re going to need to bring and where you will need to stock up from local shops. This involves doing some research before setting out, and in my case, even more so because a) I’m on a tight budget, and b) I’m vegetarian.

Camping Stove

Preparing tasty healthy dinner options are essential after a long day’s hiking. Over 3 days the junk food starts to add up and it just made me feel bad.

I ate a lot of chocolate bars, nuts, cake, flapjacks and peanut butter sandwiches. All are fine in moderation, however, there needs to be a balance. At home, I eat a whole foods vegetarian diet and save the biscuits for long day hikes. I don’t eat a lot of sugar, so to suddenly and drastically change my way of eating when on the trail leads to uncomfortable digestion.

Coming soon will be more foody blogs to cover this topic more thoroughly. So keep your eyes peeled 😉

Stove and Utensils

I took a metal mug with me similar to this one AND the Stanley Cook Set pictured. I only needed to bring the insulated cup that came with the Stanley stove set. There was no need for both cups as I was eating dehydrated pre-packaged meals like these ones.

Gear

Navigation & Tech

Navigation tools

For navigation, I used the Ordnance Survey maps app on my phone. It would have been good to also have a backup plan with the paper version in case my phone ran out of battery, or if I had dropped it in water. It was fine this time, but I was very aware that I was sucking the juice out of my mobile. Maybe tracking my trip on Strava as well as using it for navigation was too much.

I did bring a battery pack with me, which added to the weight but was worth it. I would prefer to rely less on technology in future.

Rucksack

My very old Jack Wolfskin rucksack caused me a lot of problems and I could notice almost instantly that it was uncomfortable and going to give me lower back pain from where it was pushing into my back. It also hurt my shoulders and upper back – so all in all my whole back!! I definitely need to find a replacement pack before the next trip. (This I did and now have an Osprey Exos 48, which is marvellous.)

Trekking Poles

My trekking poles (or hiking sticks as I often call them) are the cheaper ones from Decathlon and have a comfortable grip. However, they aren’t all that light on the whole.

I only brought one of my poles and really should have brought both with me. It helped me when I started to get tired, but I was unbalanced.

Personal Fitness

Yet again I pushed myself too far for my capabilities and did close to 20 miles on the second day which is just too much for me. I had a limited amount of free time to do this trip, and because of that, it worked out with the planned timing and seemed like a good idea at the time, but on the third day I suffered from it too much and had to go home earlier than I would have wanted.

Pacing yourself is a must on a long trip. You’re also using up more energy by carrying your bag, so what you can achieve on a day hike isn’t necessarily what you’ll be able to do while backpacking with your house on your back.

Things I did right

✅ The way I am packing my bag now keeps things simple and easy to find. It is working really well to have waterproof dry bags to separate my gear and find what I need quickly.

✅ The Stanley Stove system also works well although it may be good to bring a windbreak for it if I want to cook for longer.

✅ My clothing was basically good except needing a warm jacket for the evening.

✅ My one-person tent (Vango Nevis 100) is perfect for trips like these. It is light, easy to put up, and the inner goes up with the outer, so no problems if it’s raining when you stop. (Note: the image above links to the 2 person version of the same tent, but they look the same.)

Conclusion

All in all, this was a great trip and I was happy with my gear.

Really, the breakdown above is based on comparing this trip with a perfect trip, which I’m not sure is ever really achievable. The aim is to get smoother and more practised at what to take for what conditions so that I can get the maximum out of every trip. This one came dammed close.

My comfort levels are definitely increasing I would say, thinking about the Boudicca Way where I gave myself pesticide poisoning(!).

I am more minimalist with what I bring, so my carried weight is improving. My footwear was ideal for the conditions and my budget, and the cook system was fast and efficient as well as compact.

If you have a funny backpacking gear experience that you’d like to share then I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.

Please follow the links on the highlighted text to read Day 1, Day 2 and Day 3 of my 2019 backpacking trip on the North Norfolk Coast.

Norfolk Coast Path Day 3 – Wells to Burnham Deepdale

Day 3 of the Norfolk Coast Path section continues on beginning the day at Wells-next-the-sea.

You can read days one and two by either clicking on the highlighted text or on the links at the bottom of this blog.

Wells to Burnham Deepdale

The morning started off a little slow for me. My body was aching a lot from the previous day’s walking with my reasonably heavy backpack, and I had bruises on my lower back plus a couple of blisters.

Before starting my last day, my Norfolk Coast Path plan was to finish the walk at Hunstanton, which was what I planned when still at home with my book. It would have meant another 20 mile plus day to get there, plus a 3.5 hour bus journey to get back to Norwich before the buses stopped. Hmmm.

Well, what can I say? I’m an optimistic person by nature, and it seemed perfectly possible to me when I was still at home. However, as the day wore on, I eventually realised that I was walking too slowly to make it in time to get the last bus back. It seems that I need a little more training to do 20 mile days consistently…oh well.

Leaving Wells-Next-The-Sea

Setting off at around 7am was very peaceful, which was a relief, as I had to follow the roads to get to the harbour and rejoin the path.

On the way I spotted a Co-Op supermarket, so popped in to pick up a salad and other lunch things. I really crave salad and fresh food when I’m hiking, probably because of all the dehydrated and packet foods that I end up eating.

Wells-next-the-sea Harbour

The tide looked fast as it moved swiftly around the boats, but it was a calm, reasonably warm morning.

Another reason to do less miles in a day in future would be to give myself more time to explore places on the way. Wells-next-the-sea has a lot to offer in the way of entertainment and food choices, and is a highlight on the Norfolk Coast Path. I would have liked to have had a meal out, but didn’t because I was so tired on arrival there – it’s a good reason to go back and do it again!

Wells seafront

I followed my way along the seafront, and then turned right along the side of the harbour towards the beach.

Climbing up the slope at the end, I had a quick look at the sea before entering the nature reserve. It really is beautiful here, with many seats available to stop and enjoy the view through the trees.

The Holkham National Nature Reserve

No doubt about it, this was my favourite section of the entire walk. Nature was great, and there weren’t many people around at all.

There seemed to be several routes available through the woodland. The tide was still high, so I was unable to walk very close to the water, however, I could either walk through the sand dunes, or find a firmer path through the trees. I chose the trees.

It was a little disconcerting at times – there wasn’t a single soul around. All I could hear was the swooshing movement of the trees in the wind. I think I only saw two other people all morning.

After a good couple of hours, the pine trees came to an end, giving way to a mound of dunes that acted as a sea defense for the fields behind it. The North Norfolk path signs were more regular now, and encouraged walkers to walk on the higher path. I decided to stay low however, as the wind was bothering my ears again.

Soon the path bent round to the left heading inland towards Burnham Overy Staithe.

Burnham Overy Staithe

Burnham Overy Staithe
Approaching Burnham Overy Staithe

Just before reaching the village I stopped to chat to two German (I think!) female walkers going the other direction. It was a real pick-me-up to chat about the route with someone else. They told me about fantastic hiking routes in Germany and Italy that they had done.

There was a perfectly placed bench overlooking the water on the front. So I stopped for a cup of tea and a snack and a little rest. I couldn’t help smile to myself. I was so happy to be there ambling along at my own speed, taking in all the beauties of nature and the coast. It really didn’t matter to me that my feet and back were aching. At some point it just fades into the background if you remember to be present in the moment.

An intriguing windmill captured my attention as I left the quaint village. I later discovered that it was actually a National Trust bunkhouse that you could sleep in and of course is perfectly placed on the Norfolk Coast Path, if that’s what you’re doing. If only I’d known it and had another day free to continue.

Tower Windmill Bunkhouse

Burnham Norton

Just before the windmill, the path cut in off the road swinging back towards the sea across a field just north of Burnham Norton. It was raised and grassy…and long.

Deepdale Marsh

This section I found rather boring, truth be told. Maybe because the tiredness was creeping in and I was running out of steam. There wasn’t all that much to look at except grassy fields and stopping for a wild wee was a little out of the question as you could be seen for miles around. There were, however, some cute cows on the way.

Curious cows near Burnham Norton
Curious cows near Burnham Norton

It was at this point that I decided it would be a good idea to stop my journey at Burnham Deepdale and save the last leg of the path for another day. It was clear that I would miss the last bus if I continued on to Hunstanton, and I wasn’t able to extend my holiday more.

Burnham Deepdale

The Backpacker Hostel and Campsite at Burnham Deepdale

Reaching Burnham Deepdale was a joy. I felt satisfied with the trip and stopped at the café for some tea while waiting for the Coasthopper bus to Wells, where I changed onto one that took me to Cromer to catch the train home.

As a side note, there is an amazing hostel and campsite which gets great reviews in Burnham Deepdale. I haven’t stayed there yet, but it’s definitely on my list for the future.

On the bus, I couldn´t help but dream of coming back to complete the last section that I couldn´t quite manage on this trip. It took me a couple of months, but I eventually did it, just in the other direction. To read about my Hunstanton to Burnham Deepdale leg click here.

If you’ve enjoyed reading this blog then you might like to read some of my other ones, below.

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Norfolk Coast Path Day 2 – Weybourne to Wells

You can read Day 1 here.

I got up early and had a nice breakfast of overnight oats before packing my tent away. However, I wanted to look around Weybourne a little before getting started on some stoney beach walking.

There is a nice church, a pub, and a little corner shop with a café attached which was just opening up as I passed by. It was too good an opportunity to pass up, so I bought some fruit and stayed for a pot of tea.

I was underway by 8 am feeling good. It’s amazing what a good cup of tea can do for you. On the beach the sun was shining, and the tide was high, bringing lots of fishermen to try their luck.

Weybourne beach at high tide.
Weymouth Beach at high tide

I found this section quite hard going. The stones made the walking hard work, and there was a chilly wind blowing in my ears which increased as time passed. (I have sensitive ears and easily get earache.) It continued like this all morning until I reached Cley (pronounced cligh to rhyme with high).

Cley

I have fond memories of Cley as I spent a lot of time in this region as a child. The trail cut in round the back of the windmill, and came out in the middle of the village.

There is still a traditional smokehouse here, so if you’re into smoked fish then you’ll love stopping here to pick up a tasty bite.

This could be a great spot to get some lunch, as there is some choice between a cafe (seasonal), a pub and there’s a shop here too.

Personally, I had planned to get some lunch in Blakeney later to encourage myself to push on, but I needed to get something for tomorrow’s breakfast and some snacks. I wasn’t disappointed. To my surprise they even had individual porridge pots!

Approaching Cley windmill

Blakeney

To reach Blakeney you have to walk on the road for a short way through Cley, and then turn right heading back towards the sea on a raised footpath through the marshes.

Low Tide

Reaching the dingy park at Blakeney and then the National Trust car park on the seafront I could easily see that the high spring tide had gone out a lot – the car park was full of puddles and the water level was extremely low in the channel.

You have to be careful if you park here not to leave your car too long around full and new moons, as you may return to find it submerged!

Flooded car park at Blakeney

Lunch

Once in Blakeney, I immediately headed for the White Horse pub, which was up the hill a little. It was quite busy but I managed to find a small table by the bar and ordered some chips, veggies and a pint of orange juice and lemonade. I felt a bit subconscious as most other people seemed to be dressed up for lunch, and I obviously gave off a different kind of perfume after my morning’s hike.

After lunch, I treated myself to a quick wash in the pub bathrooms and reapplied my suncream. It’s amazing how much better you can feel just by washing your face, neck and hands well. Do you find as I do that you tend to get a curious salt covering when hiking in hot weather? It reminded me why I’d brought effervescent isotonic tablets with me.

Resupplying

I knew that the shop in Blakeney was bigger than the one back in Cley, so I popped in to pick up some more snacks, including a tube of chocolate peanut butter and some fresh bread to have as a snack later. I also found a lovely friendly cafe selling homemade cakes and flapjacks nearby, it felt like a real treat. The employees couldn’t believe how far I was planning on walking that day!

I packed my treats in my rucksack and made my way down to rejoin the path heading towards Morston.

Morston

The sky started to look quite ominous as I set off again for the second half of the day. But I felt revived and happy to be on the go again.

Suddenly it became extrememly windy, especially when I was more exposed leaving the built up area around Blakeney. And then the rain came.

Ominous sky over Morston sailing club
Ominous sky over Morston sailing club

Blue Poncho try out

So one idea that I had when cosy at home was to bring my new blue poncho with me on the trip. I could simply pop it over my head and rucksack to keep myself dry in a sudden downpour.

This seemed like the perfect opportunity to try it out. So I quickly pulled it out and chucked it over my head and pack.

However, I realised that in practice it wasn’t quite as practical as it sounded.

The wind took hold of it pretty quickly and flapped it around my head really hard. I think it actually made me wetter… I tried really hard to get the sides of the poncho to fasten, but the velcro just wouldn’t hold in the wind, and I ended up looking like a bright blue out-of-control sail.

Walking towards me seemingly out of nowhere, was another female hiker. I’m pretty sure I saw her smirking at the sight of me being blown around by my blue poncho, so after some wrestling, I took it off and stuffed it in a side pocket. So much quieter. Note to self: don’t use that again over my big rucksack as it doesn’t; fit! (No pictures of that incident are available, thank goodness! But there’s a picture of said poncho to the right if you’re struggling to imagine it.)

Stiffkey Salt Marshes

Leaving Morston there was a pleasant wide footpath taking me to Stiffkey. Well, pleasant until a part of it was deeply flooded and there didn’t seem to be an easy way round. While I stood considering my options, a small group of hikers came from the other side – they walked straight through and ended up knee-deep in the water at the mid-point. Rather them than me.

I was wearing trail runners and wasn’t prepared to walk another 10 miles with saturated feet. So I started to scramble up the spikey bushes at the side of the path and came across a pathlike section that had been flattened enough to get through the prickly plants.

Soon I was on the other side of the flooded section with dry feet 🙂

On the other side, I met a lady hiker coming the other way who said she would be walking West from Wells the following morning on the beach at low tide if I wanted to join her. I wasn’t sure but said I’d be on the beach at 7 am if yes and if not then to go on without me.

Path from Morston towards Stiffkey.
Path from Morston towards Stiffkey.

Stiffkey

It was more rural at Stiffkey, the path was quite far inland because of all the mud flats.

Norfolk Coast Path, Stiffkey
Norfolk Coast Path, Stiffkey

Games With The Hikers

Amusingly in the afternoon, there seemed to be several hikers also following the same route. I would stop for a rest and they would pass me, then later I would pass them again when they had paused.

So a few of us ended up chatting and laughing about it as well as swapping plans. It was fun and really helped to break up the monotony and for me to forget how achy my body was getting.

Wells

Arriving in Wells was such a relief. I had definitely bitten off more than I could chew on this leg. My body wasn’t strong enough to handle 20 miles of hiking with a heavy rucksack yet.

Blue Skies Campsite, Wells
Blue Skies Campsite, Wells

The campsite was easy to find, and had a different feel to the previous night. There were lots of children in another field, but they put me in a quieter area with another couple of small tents.

I was so shattered, that I decided to pitch my tent, shower, eat and get straight into my sleeping bag, where I was out like a light.

The next morning I awoke early at about 6 am feeling a bit dehydrated. The entire campsite seemed to be still asleep. I got up after having breakfast in my sleeping bag, packed and was ready to go by 7:30, happy to continue my North Norfolk Coast Path adventure.

Disclaimer: Please note that this post may include affiliate links to products which may provide a commission to me at no extra cost to you. For more information, you can read my affiliate disclosure in my privacy policy. All opinions are my own, and I only recommend products I believe in.

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National Trail: Norfolk Coast Path Day 1 – Cromer to Weybourne

The Norfolk Coast Path officially opened in 1986 as a long-distance footpath from Hunstanton to Cromer. It is 47 miles/77 km and crosses beaches, dunes, seafronts and passes through small villages. The terrain is gentle and easy walking, and many sections of the route can be accessed by wheelchair users.

Since then the route has been lengthened, and now includes the coastline from Cromer to Hopton-on-Sea, past Great Yarmouth.

Two long-distance paths combined make up a National Trail: the Peddars Way, and the Norfolk Coast Path. Together they cover some 130 miles in total.


Walk Statistics

  • Cromer to Burnham Deepdale = 40 miles/65 km
  • Terrain: easy
  • Book: National Trail Guide: Peddars Way and Norfolk Coast Path by Bruce Robinson
  • OS Landranger Maps132, 133
  • Access: Buses are available from Kings Lynn and along the coastal road from Wells and Cromer.
  • Food & Drink: pubs, cafes, restaurants and shops are centred around the many small towns and villages along the route, especially in the summer months. It is a touristic area and therefore is seasonal.
  • Accommodation: There are numerous campsites and b&bs on the coast depending on your needs. Please check online for more information.
  • Transport links: First Bus website is a good place to find out which buses are available from Norwich. For information on the prices and timetables of the Coasthopper buses from Sanders Coaches Ltd (CH1 and CH2 lines) please click here.
  • See trains to Cromer, Sheringham and West Runton at thetrainline.com.

Overview of Trip

  • Day 1: Distance 8 miles, Time 2h 36m, Cromer to Weybourne
  • Day 2: Distance 20 miles, Time 6h 47m, Weybourne to Wells
  • Day 3: Distance 12.5 miles, Time 4h 30m, Wells to Burnham Deepdale

Day 1 – Arriving At Start And Leaving Cromer

Many people do the Norfolk Coast Path starting from Hunstanton. However, I decided to do it the other way around and start at Cromer. It meant that I didn’t have to spend hours travelling before walking on the first day. I was itching to get going, so I booked a train to Cromer in the morning and I was off.

The weather was good, windy, but sunny and quite warm, although the main heat of the summer was definitely leaving. It was the end of August 2019 and seemed like a good time to go.

Norfolk Coast Path sign.

It’s pretty easy to stay on course on the Norfolk Coast Path, being as you generally need the sea to be on the same side as it last was when you looked. Finding the acorn trail markers through Cromer and West Runton was easy.

Later there is a choice of walking on the beach, which is fine at low tide or to go high and walk on the cliff edge for a better, albeit windier perspective.

It took me a while to find my stride, and I noted almost instantly how uncomfortable my 20-year-old Jack Wolfskin rucksack was. Note to self: buy a new rucksack before the next trip. (Update: I bought myself an Osprey Exos 48 as soon as I got home!)

West Runton

There are many caravan sites on this section of the coast, and the trail passed through one of them directly out of Cromer.

West Runton is a lovely seaside village with a couple of nice cafés, and a pub and is well worth the visit.

From West Runton the path climbs up Beeston Hill, where I had a little rest on one of the several seats and admired the view. The wind was still quite fresh, and it was now a bit cloudy.

Sheringham

Approaching Sheringham there was plenty to watch. The beach was full, despite the brisk wind, and there were people buying icecreams and having fun.

The path follows the seafront, and passes the old Lifeboat Station.

Towards Weybourne

Leaving Sheringham I decided to walk along the beach, as the tide was more or less out.

However, I became increasingly aware that the beach was becoming narrower and narrower over time. Up ahead it looked as if the beach would disappear completely, so I looked for a route to take me up onto the cliff edge.

As I arrived at the beginning of Weyboune I came across two Polish girls camping on the cliff edge. I stopped to chat with them for a while and we shared some camping stories. It felt good to connect.

Reaching The Campsite

I arrived at Foxhills Campsite in Weybourne at just after 5 pm feeling nicely tired and happy to get my tent pitched. The lady that met me was very welcoming, there were hot showers, a veggie curry pack for dinner plus of course plenty of tea on the stove.

Foxhills Campsite, Weybourne
Foxhills Campsite

Disclaimer: Please note that this post may include affiliate links to products which may provide a commission to me at no extra cost to you. For more information, you can read my affiliate disclosure in my privacy policy. All opinions are my own, and I only recommend products I believe in.

The Boudicca Way

The Boudicca Way is a waymarked long distance national trail that runs between Norwich and Diss in Norfolk. It covers 36 miles/58 km through the Norfolk countryside following close to Roman roads.

It is named after the Queen of the Iceni, a legendary Warrior whose battlefields were in this area. The official route includes a detour to the village of Caister-St-Edmund where the remains of the largest Roman town in East Anglia also known as Venta Icenorum can be found.

The terrain is relatively easy, as you would expect, Norfolk not having mountains.

I followed this trail in July 2019 with a colleague, completing it in two days and wild camping at around the halfway point just past Tasburgh. It fitted nicely into my days off in my work schedule.

It is perfectly possible to day hike this walk and base yourself in Norwich. Buses from Norwich to and from the villages are quite easy to find at most villages en route, and timetables are online and pinned to the bus stops in many places.


Walk Statistics

Boudicca Map PDF
  • Norwich to Diss = 36 miles/58 km
  • Terrain: easy
  • Ascent: 484 metres
  • Descent: 458 metres
  • OS Landranger Maps: 134, 144, 156
  • Check for Path Closures and Diversions here
  • Access: Starts and finishes at Norwich and Diss railway stations which are both on the Norwich to London Liverpool Street line.
  • Food & Drink: There are many pubs dotted on the route as well as small shops and supermarkets. However, please check online before you leave to find out which ones are currently open for business.
  • Accommodation: A search online revealed that The Old Bakery in Pulham Market has good reviews and is directly on the route.
  • Transport: If you want to day hike and break up the walk into manageable sections the First Bus website is a good place to find out which buses are available to take you back to Norwich or other places in the surrounding area. You can easily check and book trains at thetrainline.com.


Getting Out Of Norwich

After getting the bus to Norwich Railway Station we followed alongside the River Wensum. We walked past the Riverside Entertainment Complex and joined the A147 at Carrow Bridge. A gentle uphill slope took us to Bracondale where we turned left and went down to the Trowse roundabout.

At the roundabout we headed straight towards Trowse walking past the old Colman’s Mustard site. It was bought out by Unilever in 1995 and sadly closed it’s doors in 2019 after 160 years of production.

I was relieved to be away from this busy road to be honest. It’s a shame that there wasn’t a way to follow a footpath by the river to avoid the car fumes.

To greet us to the countryside a field of cows gazed at us upon entering Trowse.

Boudicca Way cows in Trowse
Is it going to rain? Cows sitting down in Trowse near Whitlingham Country Park turning

Trowse

If you’re in need of refreshments there is a small shop, two pubs and a cafe in Trowse to sort you out 😉

The Boudicca Way path now separates itself from the Wherryman’s Way. It heads across the children’s playfield to join the road on the other corner. I think we missed a path around the back of the church which made it more obvious where to go. We realised this as we got tangled up with a large elderly walking group in the field that seemed to come from there. We couldn’t seem to get by easily because of traffic on the quiet (but not at that time) country road.

After a short stint on the road we found a footpath veering right near the electricity pylons. From here on the signage was better.

Crossing over the Southern Bypass wasn’t very pleasant. There wasn’t any path for pedestrians on the busy Stoke Road and I felt quite vulnerable. At last, we went left onto Arminghall Lane and a sign through the hedge took us into the fields.

Chalk Mines

The next section made us wish we’d brought a sythe with us. The brambles were so big they covered the path entirely for a lot of sections and ended up scratching our legs and arms as we fought our way through. We were having a real adventure in the Norfolk jungle!

I’m hoping that the path will be better maintained in the future.

Passing by the chalk mines we were afforded better views and it was obvious where we had to go even though the path was rather overgrown. A bit of imaginative walking on the edge of fields was in order.

At around mid-morning we left the bramble section and found ourselves in a pretty woodland where we stopped for a quick drink and snack.

Heart shaped tree near Arminghall
Heart shaped tree close to Arminghall

Venta Icenorum Roman Town

After lots of umming and erring, we finally decided to add the extra mileage and take the detour to check out the Roman Town. Neither of us were expecting it to be quite so flat and fieldlike I think. We still walked around the footpath loop admiring the old Roman wall and some sheep that were grazing there. Then settled close to the church for lunch.

Caister-St-Edmund Roman town
Part of the Roman Wall at Venta Icenorum
Vegan lunch on Boudicca Way
A vegan lunch of mini veggie sausages, cut carrots and peppers, and crackers

Abbot’s Farm and Shotesham

This section mainly followed small roads leading us through Stoke and to the west of West Poringland. You can clearly see the radio towers from here with the red lights on top. These towers always make me feel at home. I went to Framingham Earl High School which is close by and have friends who lived at the foot of the towers.

At Abbot’s Farm there was a clear sign leading us along a lane and then a path, through to the back of Shotesham. The path came out right next to The Globe Pub, so it seemed fit to stop and get a drink and talk to the locals. They kindly topped us up with water too. It was hot weather and we had already used up more than half of our 2 litres each.

Leading us out of Shotesham the path was very picturesque, going through woodland areas with dappled sunshine.

We started to think about where we wanted to stop for the night. I originally thought that near Tasburgh would be good, being as it was about halfway. But this side or the other side? We knew that Tasburgh itself would be too built up and therefore a challenge for wild camping.

After some consideration, we both thought that we should aim for the other side of the town. We had plenty of daylight left as it was July and preferred to have a slightly shorter second day if possible.

Saxlingham Nethergate and Tasburgh

Saxlingham Nethergate Boudicca Way in a box!
Boudicca Information Point in Saxlingham Nethergate

Saxlingham Nethergate was a treat to walk through. First we saw this telephone box which had no phone, but was an ode to the Boudicca Way. Later we came across this gorgeous ruin of a church which we both thought would have made an amazing wild camping spot.

Church ruin near Saxlingham Nethergate, Boudicca Way
Remains of church at Saxlingham Nethergate

We pushed on though, making a mental note of where to find it again.

The area before Tasburgh was horse country. It was a lot more open than the previous trails and lanes.

Horse on Boudicca Way near Tasburgh
One of the beautiful horses we came across

My feet and hips were beginning to suffer by now. I had my first blister and was starting to get quite slow, feeling that I was unable to maintain my pace. It wasn’t helped by the fact that my rucksack didn’t seem to be sitting correctly on my back and was rather uncomfortable.

We stopped for a rest and an electolyte tablet by a huge oak tree just before reaching Tasburgh.

Tea under the old oak tree, Boudicca Way
Resting under the protective branches of the oak tree

Having crossed the busy A140 we made our way through Tasburgh keeping our eyes peeled for places to camp. We finally found an empty field after crossing the A140 for the second time.

I settled into my Vango Nevis 100 tent after a rehydrated veggie curry meal and listened to the local owl and rabbits munching grass around me.

First Time Wild Camping

It was the very first experience of wild camping for both myself and my fellow walker. It was one of the reasons that we went together instead of trying it out solo.

I realised later that there are certain things that you need to do differently when wild camping. One of those things is water.

We were both surprised just how much water we had used making dinner, breakfast and having a couple of cups of tea. So in the morning after eating neither of us had any water left to drink on the way.

Unfortunately, we hadn’t checked where we could fill up with water before coming out. Personally, I thought it would be easy to fill up at petrol stations, pubs and cafes on the way. And besides, I had brought my new gadget with me: the Sawyer Mini Water Filtration System.

Shortly after setting off at around 7 in the morning, we both started worrying about the lack of water. Unless we turned back to Tasburgh we were roughly 6 miles from the nearest possible water source.

We decided to press on, as it wasn’t burning hot, and before long found a clear running stream. I got out my filter and topped up our water bottles for us, drinking around a litre straight off. Thank goodness!

Note to Readers – BE WARNED!

Never ever drink water from streams or rivers near to agricultural land.

Small handheld filters rarely filter out pesticides and we both suffered greatly for our ignorance. The following day we were both nauseous and vomiting. We were very lucky to overcome our symptoms in a couple of days. Next time I will carry 4 litres of water when wild camping in this area.

Tasburgh to Pulham Market

This is debatably the most beautiful section of the walk. The route passes through Tyrrels Wood at TM 20459 90419 in between OS Landranger Map Numbers 134 and 156.

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Pulham Market, Boudicca Way

Leaving the wood, the trails settled into some field walking, even passing through a field of fresh parsley which smelt great. There were many fields of some strange dried plant, which I later found out was Rapeseed left to mature for the seeds.

We were both exhausted when we finally arrived at Pulham Market.

I had several blisters, and my companion had endured walking with wet feet as his boots had finally given up being waterproof.

Walking into The Crown Pub felt amazing. We both ordered veggie burgers and coffee and took time to replenish our energy before setting off again feeling renewed.

The Crown Pub, Pulham Market, Boudicca Way
Heading straight for the pub!

Pulham Market to Diss

Again we crossed the A140, and continued through farmland. Several of the fields had Beware of the Bull signs, which made me slightly nervous as I had a red rucksack. However, there wasn’t a bull in sight in any of them.

The next village to walk through was Shimpling. It was a very calm and peaceful village with not a lot going on.

I was starting to realise now that it may have been a little ambitious to do two days of nearly 20 miles a day. My fitness level wasn’t really ready for such big mileage. (Or was it the effects of the poisoned water that we’d drunk earlier in the day?…hmmm)

The way to get through it, I thought, was to stop and rest regularly, having a small snack and some sips of fluid.

It seemed to work, and the miles gradually ticked off until finally we made it into Diss. The last part followed a stretch of the River Waveney which was pretty. Diss railway station was easy to find and in no time at all we were back in Norwich and heading home to shower and rest.

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The Marriot’s Way & Costessey 5.5 Mile Circular

Join me on my first walk outside since being in isolation for 10 days over the Christmas holidays. I’m so excited to be back out in nature, and it was a beautiful winter’s day!

I also use the opportunity to have a good play with my new DJI Om 4 Gimble.

If you’d like to do the walk, then you can find details of it here in this pdf.

Don’t forget to like and subscribe to my You Tube channel 🙂

Harpley and Peddars Way

What a great walk! This hike passes through pretty tranquil woods not far from Sandringham. It also includes 2½ miles of the Peddars Way through rolling Norfolk hills.

Have a look at my video for a better feel of what’s it’s like:

It starts and finishes close to the Rose and Crown Pub in Harpley. It is a friendly and cosy spot with welcoming gardens. A sheltered outdoor area is available too. It is perfect for having a drink and bite to eat at the beginning or end of the walk. At the time of writing, they were open from 12 to 9 pm for food.

I took this walk from the book “Walking in Norfolk” – you can buy it on Amazon by clicking on the title (affiliate link). It is walk number 32 if you would like to find it.

Transport

There are regular buses from Fakenham and King’s Lynn if you’re travelling by public transport. Click here for more information.

If you’re arriving by car you can easily park on the road near the Rose and Crown pub.

Most of this walk is on bridleways, footpaths and quiet country lanes. However, there is one short stretch of fast straight road, but it didn’t take long to walk. I really loved that about this walk. 

Directions

Leaving the Rose and Crown pub on your left, pass the bus stop and the village hall and turn right into Brickyard Lane. You will walk through the outskirts of the village towards the south-west.

Continue along following a narrow footpath in the same direction. The path opens out to join a farm track. Follow this between two hedges. It leads to the main road ahead, but look for the footpath sign down a grassy track to the left before you get to the road.(See my video above).

This will take you down to the valley below between tall hedges.

Crossing The Road

Cross the road at the bottom, and follow the footpath on the other side. It passes an area of woodland on the right. Soon you will reach a broad track that crosses the path. This is the Peddars Way. Follow this well sign-posted route for about 2 ½ miles to the right. After about a quarter of a mile cross over a busy main road.


The Peddars Way

The Peddars Way is a long-distance National Heritage trail that measures 46 miles. It starts in Knettishall Heath in Suffolk, close to Thetford and finishes at Holme-next-the-Sea, where it joins with the North Norfolk Coastal Path. These two walks meld together nicely, and if you wanted to walk the entire thing altogether, could take you about 10 or 11 days.


Blackberries In Autumn 🙂

After crossing the A148, the route climbs gently in between fields. As you can see in my video, in Autumn you can find rich blackberry pickings along both sides of the path.

The path begins to open up and level out, and you will see the woods to the right getting closer to the path. Before reaching the road there is a permissive path across the Harpley Common on the right. It basically cuts the corner off.

Be careful! The style here was quite wobbly and unattached to the post, and there wasn’t much protection on the barbed wire. If you are unsure about it then it may be better to continue to the road and turn right. (It doesn’t add that much more onto the walk.) Go down the side of the wood until you see a path going into the wood on the left

Bronze Age Burial Mound

Crossing over the styles across the Common the path will be directly in front of you when you cross over the road, and enters the wood. I found this bit was my favourite, it was so peaceful and pretty.

The grassy tumulus that you see in the Common is one of several Bronze Age burial mounds that can be found in the area.

The path climbs up again through mixed woodland and continues in a northerly direction. When it reaches the edge of the wood it crosses a grassy area towards the cottage opposite.

Turn right at the cottage to follow the track along the edge of Big Wood in the direction of the farm buildings. 

Large Stacks Of Tree Trunks

The path goes to the left in front of the entrance to the farm and carries on along a wide track with trees on both sides. On the right we saw large stacks of trunks piled up ready for transporting.

Turn right when you reach the road opposite the gatehouse of Houghton Park. This is a fairly busy straight road, however, there is a wide verge that you can walk on to get off the road if necessary.

Houghton Village

Where the main road curves left towards the houses of Houghton village, turn right at Old Bottom(!) and take the first lane to the left.

This peaceful lane bends a little to the right and climbs uphill *(see note below), leading to a T junction close to the main road. Turn right and carefully cross over the main A148 road.

Once on the other side take the road opposite (slightly to the right) and then take the second road on the right, a quiet lane that will take you past the church and into the heart of Harpley. Turning left when you reach the crossroads will bring you back to the Rose and Crown pub and the end of the walk.

*Note:

In the guidebook, you are guided to a footpath that leads off to the right just before reaching the t-junction. However, we found that it was very overgrown with brambles and led us into a field of cows in which the exit had been blocked by the farmer. It wasn’t possible to open the gates as they had been tied shut. We had to climb over a gate! This route is clearly marked on the OS map as being a public footpath. Sadly, it’s yet another of those in Norfolk that has been closed off to walkers! (rant over!) 

To the farmers: Please please maintain the public access when it crosses your land. It means that walkers will be able to pass through quickly and easily and will be less likely to disturb livestock trying to find ways out of dead-end fields 🙂

Conclusion

Overall I really enjoyed this walk. Upsides were easy parking, and we hardly saw another soul while walking on the footpaths, the lanes and the woods were very pretty and well looked after. Downsides were having to cross the busy main road twice and getting trapped in a field of cows without a clear exit.

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