Route details, maps, pubs, features, local history and folklore for a wide variety of walks focusing primarily on Norfolk and Suffolk

Friday, 30 April 2010

Weavers Way - Potter Heigham to Great Yarmouth

The Wherry, Albion, at Thurne, a traditional broads cargo ship
There are two paths that link North Walsham to Cromer, The Paston Way which goes up via the coast, and this section of the Weavers Way which heads to Aylsham then heads north through Blickling and Felbrigg. The Weavers Way is by far the longest and at 24 miles it is a full days hike. It is possible to break the walk down into smaller sections but after a summer of plenty of walks we felt we were fit to do this in one go. This is arguably the most interesting section of the Weavers Way with Blickling Hall, Felbrigg Hall and Cromer Hall all on the route as well as ghostly stories of Anne Boleyn and Black Shuck to urge ones pace on before nightfall. And it is always good to walk those final steps to Cromer Pier where the end points of the Weavers Way, the Paston Way and the North Norfolk Coastal Paths all meet. Aching legs but very much well worth it.
Date of Walk: 2010-04-30
Start point: Potter Heigham 52.709563 1.581425
End Point: Great Yarmouth 52.611436 1.720809
Start Time: 10:00
End time: 18:30
Distance: 20 miles
Walkers: Griffmonster, Kat
Weather conditions: the forecast was for heavy showers and indeed there was signs of heavy rain throughout the day but luckily we managed to dodge all of these and by the end of the day there was clear blue skies over Breydon water and Great Yarmouth
Path taken: The Weavers Way follow the south side of the River Thurne from Potter Heigham bridge. At Acle it crosses the river and heads across country down to Halvergate. Here a track leads down into the marshes from where the path criss-crosses the marshes to arrive at Berni Arms on Breydon Water. Here it joins the Wherrymans Way and heads into Great Yarmouth. The route is well marked apart from the marshes which does require an OS map to navigate.
Walk difficulty: A long days walk but the going was not particularly strenuous
Pubs:
  • The Lion Inn, Thurne: 52.687201 1.555196 (http://www.lion-inn-thurne.co.uk/) fairlylarge pub at Thurne, quiet when we visited but then it was early. Rewarding pint of Wherry.
  • Acle Bridge Inn, Acle: 52.648423 1.568247 (http://norfolkbroadsinns.co.uk/acle-bridge-inn/) an interesting and busy food pub at the side of Acle Bridge. It was very busy when we visited with a lot of boats moored alongside
  • The Mariners Taven, Great Yarmouth: 52.607086 1.725087 we had luckily been informed of this pub prior to our visit otherwise we probably would have frequested it. Although it looked a busy backstreet town pub that at first appeared a little intimidating, you enter to find a mighty fine selection of ales, including local breweries. Well worth hunting out, it is located on Howard Street which runs parallel to the quay. Just walk through one of the alleyways by the bridge.
The bridge at Potter Heigham
Walk Features: On this section of the Weavers Way it is worth noting some of the many ghost tales that abound the broads and rivers of Norfolk. Many of these tales can be tracked back to a book entitled 'Ghosts of the Broads' and originally written in the early 1900s by a Harley street doctor named Dr Chas Sampson. He gathered a rich collection of tales from his excursions to the broads, purportedly from talking with local folk. Amazingly he claimed to have seen most of these ghosts which ranged from ghostly Roman processions to pitch battles between sailing ships on the broads. Much of this is probably folklore but nonetheless this is worthy of the mention, and the book is a very good read.
  • Potter Heigham Bridge Ghost: 52.709563 1.581425 (http://norfolkcoast.co.uk/myths/ml_potterheigham.htm) In the 18th century Lady Carew and her daughter Evelyn swore away their souls in return for a love potion to ensnare the eligible bachelor Sir Godfrey Haslitt. The love potion works and Evelyn and Haslitt are married in 1742. However,on the night of their nuptial blessing a phantom coach appears - driven by skeletons and takes the bride away. The coach bursts into flames as it crosses Potter Heigham bridge. It is said that on the anniversary of that fateful day, the 31st May, any locals foolish enough to be in the vicinity of Potter Heigham Bridge at midnight will hear the sound of horse’s hooves and the scrunch of wheels on the road. As the skins on their scalps tighten and rivers of ice course down their spine, a fiery coach comes into view careering at a great speed. It then hits the bridge and plunges into the water of the river below before vanishing.
  • Acle Bridge: 52.648423 1.568247 (http://norfolkcoast.co.uk/myths/ml_potterheigham.htm) Acle Bridge is the setting of a famous ghost story, which tells of a pool of blood appearing on the bridge every 7th April. The story relates to a local businessman, called John Burge, who cheated his customers, beat his wife and starved his children. One day, in yet another fit of rage, John beat his wife to death. At his trial, he bribed the local doctor and was acquitted of murder. However, his wife's brother knew the real story and on the 7th April he took revenge by cutting Burge's throat from ear to ear on Acle bridge. The story then took a twist, when an innocent local man, Jack Ketch was accused, convicted and then hanged for John Burge's murder. Some time later, the brother returned and was horrified to learn of the innocent man's death. On the anniversary of his revenge murder of John Burge, the brother visited Acle Bridge to reflect on his actions. As he peered into the water, legend tells of a horrendous twisted figure appearing out of the mist. The next morning the brother was found dead in a large pool of blood on the bridge, his throat cut from side to side. Whether it is the blood of John Burge or his wife's brother, that appears every April 7th is unclear!
  • Breydon Water: 52.610208 1.693718 On 11 July there is said to be a ghostly fleet of galleons heading towards Burgh Castle. On 14 September there is a ghostly battle between a pirate ship and two smaller vessels.
Curious shaped boathouse on the banks of the Thurne between Potter Heigham and Thurne
Notes: The day was most splendid with a lot of spring sunshine. The day started with my first ever glimpse of a Wherry which was heading down to Thurne. We managed to almost catch it before it headed off upstream on the Bure. There was one diversion at Acle where works meant we needed to walk from the bridge down to Acle where we could pick the path back up. The marshes were a challange. We sat by a farmgate to eat our lunch of pasties and a mars bar before venturing through them. Our first challange was a nesting swan sat firmly in the middle of the path. I am always wary of swans but walked briskly past at a good distance and all we got back was a lot of hissing. The marshes are a case of locating the many bridges across the dykes. As these are basically flat boards they are difficult to discern across the flat landscape. So with an OS map we just followed the side of the ditches. As we got into sight of Berney Inn a couple passed in the opposite direction with no navigation aids. I would guess that after walking this landscape a couple of times it would become easy to navigate. I had been led to beleive that the pub at Berney Arms, amazingly called the Berney Arms was open all day. On this day we found it closed with a hastily written note on its door proclaiming 'Be Back at 6.30' . With legs weary this was a big dissapointment so we spent half an hour with our legs up on the benches in front of the pub. The day ended following Breydon Water and the Railway line into Yarmouth. Ahead was clear blue sky with a reflection of Yarmouth on the still water of Breydon. A truely wonderful sight. A long walk but well worth it without a doubt.
On the left Sustead village sign providing a welcome break to sit down. On the right, Felbrigg Hall from across the Felbrigg Pond
Adjoining Walks:
  • Norfolk Coast Path (Cromer to Hunstanton
  • Angles Way (Great Yarmouth to Knettishall Heath)
  • Wherrymans Way (Great Yarmouth to Norwich)
Breydon water looking very blue.
Equipment: Day pack
OS Map: OS Explorer Map OL40 The Broads
Accommodation: Campsite at Wild Duck Holiday Park, Belton
Transport: Sanders bus service 55 Great Yarmouth to Potter Heigham. First Group buses between Belton and Yarmouth
The mark of the end of the Weavers Way, where it joins the Angles Way and the Wherrymans Way
Route:
View Weavers Way - Potter Heigham to Great Yarmouth in a larger map

Last Updated: 2014-01-02Z

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