Six of the best circular walks in Norfolk
- Credit: Archant
Whether you want a short wander in the country, a town or city tour on foot, or a longer hike taking in coast, woodland, parkland and rivers – Norfolk has some wonderful walks.
Great Eastern Pingo Trail
8 miles of heathland, woodland, nature reserves – and pingos.
This fascinating walk through a watery and woodland landscape formed during the last Ice Age is named for the shallow craters left when the ice melted. The pingos were created when water beneath the ground froze and expanded, pushing earth upwards. As the area warmed and the ice melted the earth slumped down leaving small craters – many of which filled with water. The trail passes through Stow Bedon Common which is alive with wildflowers and butterflies in the summer, heathland at Breckles and across the nature reserve of Cranberry Rough which was once a lake. See Hockham Heath ablaze with purple heathers in the late summer, spend a couple of miles on ancient Peddars Way and admire Thompson Water before crossing Thompson Common, which is grazed by a herd of Shetland ponies and is the best place in the country to see the rare emerald damselfly,
Burlingham Woodland Walks
Start and finish at the car parking near North Burlingham church, near Acle.
Paths wind among trees and wildflowers in this gentle landscape of woodland and orchards. Several of the trails are ideal for pushchairs, wheelchairs and mobility scooters and some which can be used for horses too. There is a sculpture trail with each piece representing a local scene or event, and ever-changing views from the snowdrops of winter and bluebells of spring through to the orchard fruit and glowing tree colours of autumn.
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Breydon Water and Burgh Castle
8.5 miles of countryside and riverside, ancient history and wonderful wildlife.
Start and finish at the Burgh Castle Roman Fort car park Butt Lane, Burgh Castle, near Great Yarmouth. Or take the bus from Yarmouth to Belton.
Roaming with the Romans on this walk centred on one of the best-preserved Roman sites in the country. The huge fort once guarded the south side of the river estuary leading inland to the rest of Norfolk. When the Romans left it became a Saxon, and then Norman, stronghold. The main walk follows the Yare as it winds through Breydon Water to Cobholm Island and then back via Gapton. See wading birds and, in the winter, vast flocks of wildfowl including pink footed geese and widgeon at the vast tidal expanse of Breydon Water. And if you are inspired to walk further, Burgh Castle is on the 77-mile way Angles Way between Yarmouth and Thetford.
There are lots of shorter options too, staying closer to the remains of Burgh Castle and still giving wonderful views across reeds and marshes.
A weird walk through King’s Lynn
2 miles including the 1 mile trail through myth and history
The trail itself winds through the heart of old Lynn, and is easy to turn into a circular walk by taking a different route through historic alleys, squares and river frontages on the return journey.
This walk was put together by this newspaper’s Weird Norfolk team and includes lots of its trademark history and hauntings. True’s Yard itself is said to be haunted by a remarkable, and remarkably precise, 38 ghosts. The route passes a medieval exorcist’s house in the grounds of St Nicholas’ Chapel and the famous witch’s heart in the grand Tuesday Market Place. It marks the cruel death of Margaret Read, accused of witchcraft and burned at stake in the square in 1590. This was also where poor Mother Gabley was hanged for witchcraft after being accused of boiling eggs vigorously – and killing 13 sailors who perished in a storm at sea.
The walk then takes in the lovely Custom House on Purfleet Quay and Lynn Minster with its fabulous moon and tide clock, complete with a green dragon’s tongue to shows the time of the next high tide on the River Great Ouse. Beware as you walk through Devil’s Alley where a priest is said to have spotted Satan and chased him back to hell – an alleged hoof-print, stamped in fury before he vanished, has also vanished.
Norwich City Walls walk
Start and finish at any convenient point – such as the bus station or railway station, both of which are very close to the route of the walls.
Norwich’s medieval walls were a wonder. Built in just a few decades of the early 14th century they were the longest circuit of urban defences in Britain with 12 gates, and 40 towers to monitor the main roads into the city and another pair of towers close to today’s Carrow Bridge controlling access by water. Sadly the gates were demolished in the late 18th and early 19 centuries to make room for road traffic but even today impressive stretches of the walls remain – and it is possible to trace the entire route around the city. The walk includes stretches along the tranquil riverside path, crosses Chapelfield Gardens, and follows a long section of the wall along footpaths between the river and Bracondale, past well-preserved towers (and a play park which was once a plague pit.)
The Norwich Society has a series of walks based on sections of the city walls which can be stitched together to take in the complete circuit.
Sheringham coast and countryside
8 miles of coast, woodland, parkland and all round north Norfolk loveliness.
Head for the sea, turn right and follow the Norfolk Coast Path up and over Beeston Bump (pausing at the top to catch your breath and the wonderful sea views.) The route then crosses the railway line and takes walkers inland to Beeston Regis, passing the ruins of its priory on the way to Beeston Common. Walk through Sheringham Woods and pretty Upper Sheringham before entering Sheringham Park. The rhododendrons are particularly magnificent here in May and June. The route takes walkers past the gazebo viewing tower and then across the coast road and back to the cliffs and Sheringham.
And if this has whetted your appetite for some longer walks then Norfolk has some wonderful long-distance trails.