This was our fourteenth walk in preparation for the 2021 LDWA 100.
WALK NUMBER: 14 (Finding the Source of the River Wensum Part 2)
DISTANCE COVERED: 15.5 miles
NUMBER OF NATHAN’S FRIENDS WE “ACCIDENTALLY” BUMP INTO: 0
SUFFICIENT BEER CONSUMED: No (all the pubs are shut)
PUBS VISITED: 0 (not through choice)
WEATHER CONDITIONS: Warm and overcast
ATTACKED BY ANIMALS: No
NUMBER OF SNAKES SEEN: 0
One of the projects that we started in early January was an attempt to find the source of the River Wensum. We sort of know where the source is, but it’s more exciting to actually walk to it. Our first effort was just over 15 miles and this effort was nearly the same distance, so all credit to Nathan for planning this route. He made relatively few mistakes and I was very impressed. Public transport planning was less impressive on his behalf, but I don’t intend to much mention that as I’m not one for negativity.
We started this little expedition at 08:30, getting the bus to Costessey to begin the adventure. I say adventure, but I’ve just watched a video on YouTube of someone (Anton) climbing Reactor 4 in Chernobyl and it’s not exactly the same level of challenge as that I admit….
This was our end point on the last walk, the heart of Costessey, the jewel of the Norwich suburbs.
The former Red Lion pub in Costessey.
I thought that this was an interesting tree, but Nathan muttered something about how I was faffing about taking photographs early on during the walk. I ignored him and took photos anyway, as I have a blog to write whilst he sits at home drinking beer in the evenings.
A frog crossing, or maybe a toad crossing, I’m not entirely sure how they differ.
And it was nice to see the Wensum River again, since that was the point of this walk.
This bridge is just outside Taverham and it also makes a little appearance in a walk that Liam and I did a few weeks ago.
We didn’t go into Taverham itself, but backed up a little bit and we started to walk alongside the river at Ringland Lane.
Some lovely swans opposite Beehive Lodge.
The Swan at Ringland, a pub which has been trading since the 1930s. This would have been a lovely spot to have a little drink whilst planning the next part of the walk, but it’s not long until pubs re-open. We thought this numerous times during the day, but it really isn’t too long now.
We walked down to the river here to Ringland River Green and that’s the bridge over the Wensum on Ringland Road.
There were lots of rope swings. I didn’t go on them, they didn’t look very secure and I didn’t want any incidents as I didn’t feel that Nathan would have taken my plight with sufficient seriousness.
What looks like some very new signage for the Walsingham Way, and I now feel the need to walk that at some point. It seems to be a work in progress and there’s further information at https://walsinghamway.blog/.
A beautiful little lamb. It’s a meat I try to avoid now as I feel guilty having seen too many cute lambs in fields. It’s all a bit hypocritical really since chickens are cute and I eat them, but I suppose it’s important to take a stand on a few things at least.
This beautiful landscape is what Norfolk County Council are considering putting a road through, the Western Link Road. It’s not for me to get political (well, no more than normal), but it strikes me as rather a shame if that happens. Public transport really isn’t ideal in this area, much more needs to be done to improve it.
We had to cut across a field near to Wensum Valley golf club here and I was a little concerned that we’d plunge into the marsh. Fortunately, it was just about all dry enough to walk over, but I suspect it might be out of bounds during the winter months when it’s all quite moist.
The bridges are in a good state of repair though and there are a few here, connecting Ringland onto the Norwich to Fakenham Road.
No need replacing the old sign, shove another one on top.
The River Wensum is back, with a friendly farmer at the end of the bridge putting up his cows in field sign. I’m pleased that we avoided those, as it’s fair to say that Nathan and I don’t find cows in fields to be in the slightest bit pleasant. They’re big lumpy things which always look like they’re going to charge at me (the cows I mean, not Nathan).
Standing on the bridge looking at the River Wensum in the Norwich direction.
I thought that this was a thoughtful little sign as I had wondering what all the firing noises were.
A little valley, although all of this land is private (despite Komoot trying to route us through it).
This is the bridge on the A1067, which bypasses Attlebridge.
The old road bridge at Attlebridge, there are two separate bridges which are both now closed to vehicles.
The second of the bridges, from which the village takes its name. There has likely been a bridge here since the medieval period, but a stone bridge was constructed in 1668. This bridge was in turn replaced in 1913, with the new one being quite mundane, but apparently some of the stone from the older bridge is still underneath. I have to confess that I didn’t have a little look.
When I was here a few weeks ago I didn’t come down to look at the bridges, so I was pleased to see them this time. It must have been quite a challenge for vehicles before a bypass was constructed, there doesn’t seem to be much space here to pass.
Interesting place for such a sticker, on the old Attlebridge bridge.
This is St. Andrew’s Church in Attlebridge and the stone in the niche on the left-hand side of this photo contains stonework found by the old Attlebridge crossing. It’s thought that this stone was once the plaque that sat on the parapet of the bridge, which suggested it was a much grander affair than what is there now.
Another photo of the church as we walked by.
From Attlebridge we walked a bit of Marriott’s Way (again), the former railway line from Norwich. This route is easy walking and that’s why we’re taking this path in for our 100 efforts in a few weeks. On that point, we’re still a little nervous of how far we’ll get, but we’ve rather stopped thinking about it now as we don’t want to get pre-annoyed before we’ve even starting walking.
There are some really interesting art installations along Marriott’s Way, along with what I consider to be a few rather less impressive efforts such as this. But, everyone has different views on art.
The River Wensum looking towards Norwich.
And, on the other side of the bridge, the River Wensum looking towards its source. I liked how this tree has managed to get its roots bending around the wall.
What I considered to be an intriguing tree arrangement.
Some old rail and sleepers, a reminder of what this path used to be.
The remains of Lenwade railway station platform which closed to passengers in 1959, but remained open to freight until 1983. If it could have lasted a few more years, it’s possible that the line might have been saved and returned to passenger usage. That is now highly unlikely ever to happen, but at least remnants survive to help bring the past back to life.
We left the Marriott’s Way to join the Wensum Way, a conveniently named path for our expedition today. The LDWA have more information about the Wensum Way for those who fancy walking it.
The former entrance to Lenwade railway station, which is now a private residential property.
Walking along the Wensum Way, the river reappeared to our right.
The quite impressive Lenwade mill, a large structure dating from the late eighteenth century.
The Bridge Inn which has been trading since the late eighteenth century, and we were slightly saddened that we couldn’t go in it. Only a few weeks left until they open though as I may have already mentioned. Credit to the owners over the years for keeping this going, it must have been challenging in recent years.
I was surprised to see one pub still trading in Lenwade (or Great Witchingham, they seem to run into each other), let alone two, this is the former King’s Head, now known as the Queen of Hearts. It’s been open since the 1830s and I think it operates as more of a restaurant now. I wasn’t taken by the imagery they’ve got on the signs, might need to take a photo of a more decadent roast. On which point, Nathan spent most of the day telling me how he was making a roast tomorrow and how talented he was at making them (he didn’t say that last bit, but I could tell that he was thinking it).
We were considerably disappointed to see that this was shut. We hadn’t expected it to be there, so we hadn’t exactly been looking forwards to it all day, but there was a moment of excitement as I quite fancied some chips and a battered sausage. It should be a criminal offence to operate a fish and chip shop and not open it every lunchtime.
We turned down Common Lane to go and find our river.
Some of the signage by the cricket ground has seemingly been deliberately broken down and the path system here is a bit muddled. Nathan navigated this with some ease, and I’m sure he’ll be grateful that I’m throwing more glowing praise in his direction.
Nathan bravely and nervously led us through a courtyard packed with cows, and we were protected only by the big metal gates…….
Some form of sculpture. Nathan reassured me that it wasn’t real, which I ignored as he seemed to think that he had found the village idiot when telling me that.
There was a warning on the gate that the boardwalk here was a bit broken and that didn’t seem ideal, but we saw other people walking in the area. We did have to navigate over this bit of wood in the water, whilst pondering how some of our more clumsy friends would have fallen in. We missed them quite a lot at that point and would have very much liked them to have been there.
More not ideal boardwalk….
This bit was better.
This path took us near to Sparhamhill and this all felt quite remote, as Marriott’s Way had been a little busier.
This is a really lovely area, somewhere that I’ve never been before (or if I have, I’ve promptly forgotten it), Sparham Pools. There were a few people walking around this area and it’s all quite nicely laid out with signage. It’s a nature reserve operated by the Norfolk Wildlife Trust and it was once a gravel pit. The trust’s web-site says that it’s a great place to see grey wagtails, although I struggle to identify a pigeon from a dove so I doubt that I’d recognise one.
This is where we ended our walk today, at Lyng, but I’ll start the story of that village at the beginning of the next walk.
I was very lucky to have Nathan who is a bus expert, which meant that he was able to skillfully guide us towards a bus stop where we would have a minimal wait to get the Fakenham to Norwich bus back home. What a relief I thought to be able to be whisked back home with no more walking or waiting. To cut a long story short, we walked for another two miles and then sat at Lenwade bus shelter for over half an hour. I didn’t say anything, I thought that might be impolite given Nathan’s efforts and I didn’t want to cause a scene.
All in all, a rather lovely little adventure. I did forget about the river a bit today, since we were often separated from it, but I might get an emotional attachment back again when we get nearer to its source.