Fields are just amazing

If these awesome sights had appeared on the East Anglian landscape just 10 years ago rumours of conspiracy theories would have probably run rife.

If these awesome sights had appeared on the East Anglian landscape just 10 years ago rumours of conspiracy theories would have probably run rife.

These spectacular and rather bizarre shapes were often thought to be the work of aliens or pranksters ruining farmer's fields late at night.

However, the enormous puzzles deliberately carved into the landscape are becoming increasingly commonplace across the county, and not because aliens have a penchant for Norfolk.

John Barrett, who created a maze shaped like a cow at Ditchingham, near Bungay, said: “They're so popular because they're so much fun, it's a great day out and everyone enjoys themselves.”

In fact it has almost become unusual to travel through open countryside without catching a glimpse of oddly cut fields that from an aerial view reveal a striking outline.

Mazes have been appearing in a variety of wild and wacky shapes, creating what some people have started to refer to as a “maize-craze”.

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Maize is said to be the ideal crop to create mazes for a host of reasons.

Mr Barrett explained: “One reason it is the plant of choice for all maze creators is safety.

“If people brush up against it or step off the path the softness of the maize means they will not get scratched.

“It also makes completing the puzzle harder as maize can grow up to eight feet tall so people cannot peer over the top to work their way out.”

And once the crop is finished it can be used for a number of products including chewing gum, cereals, and even plastic.

And because it is easy to manage, it can be cut into pretty much any shape or size.

Some of the outlines that have graced the Norfolk landscape are cows, a spitfire in memory of the closure of RAF Coltishall, tractors, a Norwich City Football Club badge and Lord Horatio Nelson.

The making of a maze can take up to a year - first the plants must be grown, the shape chosen and then the crop cut.

This can be done by either using a hi-tech global positioning satellite system where the design is put into a computer which directs where to cut, or by the unassisted expertise of the farmer.

A selection of the mazes open to the public this year include:

t A Spitfire in memory of the closure of RAF Coltishall at Church Farm, North Burlingham, near Acle. Open every day from this weekend, from 10am. Last entry 4pm.

t A ship at Old Hall Farm, Halesworth Road, Reydon, near Southwold. Open from July 15, 10am to 6pm, last entries 5pm.

t A cow at Ditchingham Farms, near Bungay.

t And the Norfolk Shire Horse Centre at West Runton will have a standard maze with animal pens in the centre. Open from July 23, 10am to 5pm. Closed Saturdays except for August Bank Holiday weekend.

They are sure to leave you maze-merised.