Bure Valley Path marks new milestone

Andrew Barnes MD of the Bure Valley Railway. Picture: MARK BULLIMORE

Andrew Barnes MD of the Bure Valley Railway. Picture: MARK BULLIMORE

It might be the adjacent railway which takes most of the focus, but since its creation the Bure Valley path has become a popular attraction in its own right.

The track, which follows the line of the Bure Valley Railway (BVR), runs for nine miles through some of Norfolk's finest countryside and has become one of the county's busiest walking routes.

Opened a year after the railway, it is now celebrating its 25th anniversary, with a series of events and projects planned.

The path, like the BVR itself, follows the route of the part of the East Norfolk Railway, which once connected the area to the rest of the rail network.

As such, it offers fairly unchallenging, flat walks. But what it lacks in hills, it more than makes up for in character, and beauty.

It was opened by Broadland District Council in March 1991, a year after the Bure Valley Railway.

However, a newspaper report at the time revealed that even then it proved so popular that walkers began using the route before proper safety measures were in place.

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Ten years later it was temporarily closed, due to the foot and mouth outbreak.

Andrew Barnes, managing director of the Bure Valley Railway and a member of Aylsham Walkers are Welcome group, said: 'The railway and the footpath go hand in hand.

'It had all become overgrown after the main line closed. By us doing all the construction of the railway, we cleared the way for the footpath so when it opened it was just the access points to be put in.' Hamish Melville, head of economic development at Broadland District Council – which manages the route – said: 'The picturesque route is well used by locals and tourists alike, from visitors to the area enjoying a leisurely walk, wildlife spotting and a trip on the Bure Valley Railway, through to children walking to school.'

Next month will see a race along the Bure Valley Path involving 200 runners. Chase the Train, organised by North Norfolk Beach Runners, has already sold out.

Officials, meanwhile, are hoping to encourage more visitors to combine trips on the train with walks or bike rides along sections of the path, so they can hop on and off and the stops along the way.