13 Norfolk rivers you might never have heard of
- Credit: Archant
Artist Tor Falcon has drawn her way down 38 of Norfolk's waterways, creating chalk pastel pictures, a book and an exhibition.
13 Norfolk rivers you might never have heard of:
The Babingley rises from a spring at Fitcham and flows 12 miles before being swallowed by the Great Ouse just before it reaches the Wash. It must once have been a much fiercer waterway as St Felix is said to have been shipwrecked here in AD615. A colony of beavers saved his life and he repaid the kindness by making leader a bishop.
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The Cong runs just a mile from a spring-fed pool in Congham to the Babingley, but once powered a mill to extract oil from the blubber of whales, brought by wagon from King's Lynn. The whale bones were then ground into fertiliser at nearby Narborough bone mill, although some were kept in Congham as unusual ornaments.
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Hagon Beck runs just three miles from Roughton into Suffield Beck, which then becomes Blackwater Beck, and eventually King's Beck. The word beck comes from the Old Norse bekkr, and these stream names could date back to when Norfolk was part of a Viking empire. Tiny Hagon Beck has a waterfall, and a working water-powered sawmill, in Gunton Park.
Gur Beck is a tributary of Scarrow Beck, which is itself a tributary of the Bure. The four mile long stream begins between East and West Beckham and once supplied the moat of 14th century Gresham Castle.
Penny Spot Beck rises in a small pool near Swanton Morley and flows into the Wensum just two-and-a-half miles later.
Panford Beck also runs for two-and-a-half miles, beginning near Brisley and joining the Blackwater near East Bilney
The Hun rises in Old Hunstanton Park and flows less than four miles to the coast between Holme and Thornham.
The Mun reaches the sea at Mundesley via a long pipe over the sands, after flowing five miles from Northrepps.
The Mermaid emerges near Aylsham and, less than four miles later, swims into the Bure at Brampton. The unusual name might come from "mere" or perhaps even a lost legend of an inland mermaid.
The Gadder flows from Cockley Cley. The clear chalk stream gads through the National Trust's Oxburgh estate before reaching the River Wissey
The Ainse, aka the Eyn, might be only eight miles long, but it has two names and a watermill. It is also the waterway which was followed by railway engineers as they carved out the route that is now the Marriott's Way, between Reepham and Lenwade.
The Tiffey is Wymondham's river. The town's magnificent abbey was built beside it, and its 10 mile journey also takes it through the parkland of Kimberley Hall before joining the Yare at Barford.
The Ingol flows just over six miles from Shernborne, through Ingoldisthorpe and into the Wash. A new wetland has been created to filter water from a sewage treatment works through native chalk wetland plants such as iris, sedges, rush, marsh marigold and watercress, protecting the stream from pollution and attracting wildlife. It could become a template for many more projects across East Anglia.
Did you know…?
Norfolk is an island, bordered by sea and rivers.
Blackwater is the name of at least four tiny Norfolk tributaries of bigger rivers. Two flow into the Wensum, one into the Bure and another is the earliest stages of the Yare, beyond Garvestone. They are probably named for the darkness of the water as it flows between wooded banks and along boggy valleys.
All but two of Norfolk's rivers (the Nene and the Great Ouse) start and finish in the county.
The river Great Ouse, which runs into the sea in King's Lynn is the longest of several Ouses in Britain. The name means water in Celtic.
Rivers of Norfolk runs at Norwich Castle Museum and Art Gallery until January 12. Each work of art is for sale, with a percentage supporting the East Anglia Art Fund.
The book Rivers of Norfolk, by Tor Falcon, £25, charts her journeys in words and pictures.
Rivers of Norfolk began when a friend asked Tor to draw two favourite rivers. After drawing parts of the Nar she had an overwhelming urge to follow it downstream. "By then I must have Googled 'rivers of Norfolk' because I had already found an alphabetical list of names that read like an Old English poem of all things watery and damp," said Tor. "I took myself off to draw the rest of the Nar, and then of course curiosity got the better of me and I had to draw every other river on my list."
Which are her favourites? "This is genuinely so difficult to answer," said Tor, who lives beside one of Norfolk's four Blackwater Rivers, near Hingham. "The middle reaches of the Wensum are text book pastoral idyll, the Yare downstream of Norwich, as it meanders through its wide boggy valley to Yarmouth, is unique. And the marsh landscape of the combined Bure, Yare and Wensum I found endlessly fascinating. The Gadder, tributary of the Wissey, is an exquisite chalk stream running through the dry Brecks. The Thet has a quiet beauty that I loved drawing. It was a pleasure to spend time with the Little Ouse in winter. The Glaven is a beauty. I could go on and on…"