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Sue Walker, The Ramblers
Friday, March 23, 2012
This walk firstly passes through the historic village of West Acre on the Nar Valley Way.
Start: Parking area at the bend of a road 1.5 miles west of South Acre near Mill House
Map: Explorer E236 G/R 788150
Distance: 8.25 miles
Public Transport: There is no regular bus route from Norwich
Timetables: 0871 2002233, travelineeastanglia.co.uk
Next to the church is the 14th century gatehouse of the priory, originally built by the Augustinian canons circa 1100, of which little now remains (and it is not accessible).
After leaving the Nar Valley Way, the route then passes by the early 18th-century Narford Hall, built by the Fountaine family.
Beside the hall is St Mary the Virgin Church, restored in 1857 but now rarely used. The church overlooks a large, attractive lake.
Further on the walk uses Fincham Drove, part of a Roman Road that crossed Norfolk from the Downham Market area all the way to Caister-on-Sea.
There are some excellent views over the countryside during the final stretch of the walk.
Refreshments are available from the West Acre Stag public house which is open daily (except Mondays) for food and drink. There is alternative parking here for those wishing to eat or drink at The Stag during or after the walk.
Take the green track at the back of the car park beside the post-and-wire fence. Do not go down the road to a ford). Follow the track past a wooden gate. Cross the bridge by another ford and continue past another gate. On reaching the lane opposite The Stag public house, turn left. Follow the lane through West Acre village keeping the church, the priory gateway and the village sign on the left. Keep ahead over the little crossroads in the village by the children’s playground.
At the T-junction, cross over into the wide track opposite: there are trees on the left and fields on the right. Follow the track for a mile past a metal gate: ignore the permissive paths on the right. On reaching a crossing lane, turn left along it. Cross the bridge over the River Nar and keep on alongside the wall that borders the Narford Hall estate. At the crossroads, turn right for a third of a mile with splendid views of Narford Hall on the right. There is then a grass drive through a gate on the right that goes down to St Mary the Virgin Church: the church is usually kept locked, but there are splendid views over the lake to make the extra walk worthwhile.
About 250m after the start of wood on the left of the road, turn left through a metal gate and follow a signed track into the woods. Then, with fields either side, bear slightly left to some more trees continuing on the wide track. Then go between the trees bearing rightwards and, at a crossing farm track, go straight on across an arable field heading towards the left end of a plantation of fir trees with one small tree standing alone. Pick up a grassy track and continue towards a line of woodland. At the trees turn left along a rough track (Low Road).
Keep parallel with the woods along the right side of arable fields for about one and a third miles. Ignore two farm tracks on the left and continue ahead going slightly uphill. Then keep under the power lines when the path becomes indistinct and, after a while, join the track running parallel on the left still walking between the field and the wood. Continue past a field boundary on the left. At another field boundary on the left, and when the wood on the right ends at a crossing track, turn left along the stony track. This is Fincham Drove Roman Road.
After a long half mile cross a lane and continue ahead into a rough grassy path with a wood on the right. At the next lane turn left and follow this quiet, narrow lane for about one and a quarter miles. When the lane bends left at the top of a rise and is about to drop down into the valley, turn right on a track towards a line of trees about 100m away. Just inside the trees turn left into a signed track that goes steadily downhill, with lovely views, to reach a lane at the bottom. Turn right along the lane (ignoring the path on the right behind the hedge) to get back to the car parking area.
•This article was first published in February 2012