New Norfolk Trail could 'attract more money' into market town
- Credit: Norfolk County Council
The brains behind a brand new Norfolk Trail set to be unveiled later this year have said the route could provide an economic boost for a part of the county which "doesn't get as much attention".
Work has already begun to create what will be the 14th Norfolk Trail and it is expected to be fully open by the end of the summer.
The 17-mile Kett's Country Long Distance Path will link Norwich and Wymondham, joining a network of more than 1,200 miles of linear and circular walks already in place around the county.
Lead project officer Matthew Hayward, of Norfolk County Council, said the new trail was being created to cater for an increasing population in the area.
He said: "There has been quite a lot of housing growth, especially in places like Wymondham, Cringleford and Mulbarton, so it's really important we have green infrastructure.
"As population grows, we need places where people can go for a walk, walk their dog, and this is a key one so people are perhaps not going to the more sensitive sites on the Broads and making sure people have something nice on their doorstep."
The trail is being created on existing footpaths in order to encourage people to use them more and give confidence to walkers in the area.
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It will cost £97,630 and has been paid for through a successful bid to the Greater Norwich Growth Board Infrastructure Investment Fund.
Mr Hayward said: "Historically there has been a trail there, but it doesn't currently have the correct signage and promotion. We're trying to get more of these promoted trails which provide high-quality provision so more people can enjoy our countryside.
"It's all on current public rights of way, but there is no signage or anything which shows what they are. We've got funding to do additional scrub clearance where it's a bit overgrown, and also some repairs on things like bridges and surfacing to ensure it's accessible and kept to a good standard.
Assistant project officer Christopher Brough added: "There is some money as well for replacing stiles and things like that which are quite difficult for people with mobility issues, switching those out for kissing gates and that type of thing.
"Having everything properly waymarked gives people the confidence of knowing where they started and that they will be able to follow all the markings for their walk, and that they will be able to get back to that exact spot.
"Some of the feedback we've had has included worries over being a bit wary about walking by a farmyard where a public right of way passes through. Having a fingerpost saying where you're going gives people that confidence to use and enjoy what's around them."
Coronavirus restrictions over the last year have limited the ability for people to take part in sport and use fitness centres, so walking has been one of the few forms of exercise available during lockdowns.
The creation of the Kett's Country Path adds another signposted option for people living between Cringleford and Wymondham – an area with strong ecological and historical significance in the county.
Transport links at both ends of the trail, as well as community attractions like pubs situated along the route, makes the path "an ideal day out", said Mr Brough.
Mr Hayward added: "There is a potential economic benefit. We know that walkers are a good source of income to our local economy, and it could attract more money into Wymondham which would be beneficial as well.
"It's a way of seeing a bit of landscape that you don't know about. It's a really nice bit of Norfolk which maybe doesn't get as much attention as some of the 'honey pot' areas like the Broads or the coast, but is still important and has a lot of interest."
Andrew Jamieson, Norfolk County Council's champion for cycling and walking, said he was "very excited" about the trail.
He said: "Not only does it deliver against our council plan 'Together for Norfolk' to grow our Norfolk Trails network, it provides a great way to explore a part of Norfolk with fantastic heritage and biodiversity."
Added to the linear trail will be five circular walks, providing short-distance options along the route.
The council has suggested 12 potential circular routes, and is currently asking people for their help to whittle it down to five.
Click here to take part in the consultation.