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Broad Walks and Boardwalks

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Broad Walks and Boardwalks
Author: NickC, Published: 08 Jul 2014 Walk rating : Rating:star1 Broad Walks and Boardwalks Walking Guidestar1 Broad Walks and Boardwalks Walking Guidestar1 Broad Walks and Boardwalks Walking Guidestar1 Broad Walks and Boardwalks Walking Guidestar0 Broad Walks and Boardwalks Walking Guide
Norfolk, Norfolk Broads
Walk Type: River or lakeside
Broad Walks and Boardwalks
Length: 8 miles,  Difficulty: boot Broad Walks and Boardwalks Walking Guide boot Broad Walks and Boardwalks Walking Guide boot Broad Walks and Boardwalks Walking Guide
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This is a circular walk that invests a little time upfront to get to the end of Upton Dyke, after which you follow a number of different waterways. The Broads tend not to be too walker-friendly as much of the land around them still tends to be in private hands, with few footpaths. This is therefore a rare chance to do a decent circular walk involving those that do exist.

If you are used to canal walking the Broads are different, somewhere between a canal and a river, with the waters actually tidal. They lack towpaths as craft traditionally used sail not horsepower, which means you can sometimes find yourself trudging through quite high grass, albeit usually on top of banked flood defences. The walking also tends to be quieter, due to less powered craft, and it is also much more open. Rapid reed growth also means the waters’ edge can often disappear from view, although it usually pops back eventually!

Allow around three hours for the walk. There are facilities in the nearby village, or head for the Fairhaven Gardens where there are toilets and a café, as well as the gardens themselves.

To reach the starting point take the B1140 to Panxworth. In Panxworth take the Panxworth Road, which brings you to South Walsham. Go through South Walsham and take the first left after the church heading for the school, following signs for Fairhaven Gardens. Take the first left, Broad Lane, which is signposted to South Walsham Broad. At the end of this lane there is a (free) car park on the left, postcode NR13 6ED.

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Walk Sections

Start to Holly Farm Lakes
Start to Holly Farm Lakes

Start point: 52.6711 lat, 1.5069 long
End point: 52.666 lat, 1.5223 long

Turn right out of the car park and after about twenty yards pick up the public footpath on the left, which passes down the left hand edge of a cultivated field. About half way down the path diverts into the field on the left, meaning you are now following the right hand edge of the next field. On reaching a road turn right, pass Town House Farm on your right and after about two hundred and fifty yards there is a pond on your left just before the road bends to the right.

Take the footpath that passes by the right hand side of the pond, following the left hand edge of a field. The path bends to the right and heads for some houses, but before you reach these pick up the footpath on the left, about half way along, and pass through a kissing gate. Now follow the right hand edge of a field. On reaching another road, turn right.

Just before a junction of roads, follow the fingerpost to the left. Pass down the sides of some cottages until you reach the black-tarred office of Holly Farm Lakes.

Holly Farm Lakes to Palmers Drainage Mill
Holly Farm Lakes to Palmers Drainage Mill

Start point: 52.666 lat, 1.5223 long
End point: 52.66 lat, 1.5522 long

The path heads left in front of the lakes and, on reaching a gate, heads right, keeping the (largely invisible) lakes to your right. The path is now following a wooded track, and there is a series of boardwalks along here as the path crosses marshy ground and a number of small streams. The lakes give way to a field to the right, but stay with the path as it diverts to the right at the top of the field and crosses a small stream on a wooden bridge. Stay with the left hand edge of the field.

Follow the well defined path as it bends to the left, keeping a hedge to your left. The hedge becomes a wooden fence and the path comes out onto a track and then a road. You are now in Cargate Green. Follow the road, passing Cargate Farm on your left. Ignore the footpath on your left opposite Keepers Cottage, but pick up the next one on the left at the junction of Marsh Lane and Bank Lane, following a concrete road.

Immediately after a cattle grid, pick up the footpath on the right via a wooden bridge, keeping a small ditch to your right and Upton Marshes to your left. Pass through a number of small gates and you will eventually find yourself at a marina at the end of Upton Dyke, where there’s also a small modern windmill at Palmers Drainage Mill.

Palmers Drainage Mill to Tall Mill
Palmers Drainage Mill to Tall Mill

Start point: 52.66 lat, 1.5522 long
End point: 52.6713 lat, 1.556 long

The route is now pretty obvious, following the left hand side of the water as you head left up to the junction with the River Bure, where you bear left again (not that you have much choice!). Along the way you will likely see a variety of craft, both motor and sail, lining the bank. To your half left you will be be able to see the distinctive black and white colouring of Tall Mill, your next Waymarker point.

To your left you have Upton Marshes, which are grazed by cattle in the summer and are the home to breeding waders and overwintering wildfowl. If you are lucky you may also spot a brown hare or even a Chinese Water Deer. With the complicated bit of the walk over, this is a rare opportunity to take in the waterways of the Broads on public footpaths.

Pass Oby Drainage Mill on the other bank and keep going. The water here is slightly distant due to reed growth, although there are boardwalks leading to fishing pegs. Before too long you will come to Tall Mill Drainage Mill, where there is a seat.

Tall Mill to Fleet Dike
Tall Mill to Fleet Dike

Start point: 52.6713 lat, 1.556 long
End point: 52.6864 lat, 1.5191 long

Pass through a wooden gate and keep going along the edge of the water on the top of the raised flood defence banking. The horizon is now dotted with windmills or drainage mills. There’s now water to the left and right of you as there’s a ditch to your left on the edge of the marsh. Look out for marsh harriers and herons – you never know! The river meanwhile disappears from view behind a profusion of reeds, although the occasional sail peeking up will reassure you that it’s still there and you are on the right track.

The path passes amongst some willows, still describing a course between the ditch and the river and diverts to the left at Thurne Mouth, where the Thurne meets the River Ant to your left, which is now about to become your companion. If you’ve been unlucky with wildlife the one thing you will be guaranteed is geese, which are something of a pest around these parts, nibbling at the base of the reeds. For most of this section you are separated from the main part of the river by a shallow channel much favoured by said geese.

On reaching what appears to be a T-junction, but isn’t, bear left by an Anglian Water pumping station. Stay with the path until you see the distinctive ruins of St. Benet’s Abbey on the opposite bank, with its ruined walls and a large cross. Here you need to head left down the Fleet Dike.

Fleet Dike to End
Fleet Dike to End

Start point: 52.6864 lat, 1.5191 long
End point: 52.6711 lat, 1.507 long

The path here is easy to follow and solid underfoot. Woodland dominates the opposite bank and the Dike has a habit of playing peekaboo with you as you follow this final stretch. Eventually you come to a small stretch of moorings in dappled shade, but these don’t last for long. A few minutes further on there’s a much longer stretch of moorings and these mark the end of your walk alongside the water.

At the end of the moorings divert left into some woodland and this brings you out onto a road round the back of a marina. Follow this all the way down to the end, taking any chance you can to peer over the fences to see the South Waltham Broad, and you will eventually arrive back at the car park where you started.

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Text and images for this walk are Copyright © 2014 by the author NickC and may not be reproduced without permission.


The information in this guide has been provided in good faith and is intended only as a guide, not a statement of fact. You are advised to check the accuracy of the information provided and should not use this guide for navigational directions nor should you rely on the accuracy of the weather forecast. You are advised to take appropriate clothing, footwear, equipment and navigational materials with you according to the current and possible weather and nature of the terrain. Always follow the country code and follow any additional warnings or instructions that may be available. Some walks may be very strenuous and you are advised to seek medical advice if you have any doubts as to your capability to complete the walk.

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3421_0drsjbailey1477956350 Broad Walks and Boardwalks Walking Guide Image by: drsjbailey
Uploaded: 01 Jan 1970
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3421_0drsjbailey1477956373-1 Broad Walks and Boardwalks Walking Guide Image by: drsjbailey
Uploaded: 01 Jan 1970
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