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Harpley and Peddars Way

Harpley map

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.

Karen Branscombe
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