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Elsing Village and Harnser Wood

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Elsing Village and Harnser Wood
Author: clairesharpuk, Published: 30 Apr 2012 Walk rating : Rating:star0 iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UKstar0 iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UKstar0 iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UKstar0 iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UKstar0 iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UK
Norfolk, Dereham
Walk Type: Footpaths and byways
Elsing Village and Harnser Wood
Length: 2 miles,  Difficulty: boot iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UK
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A 1.5 mile circular stroll around the village of Elsing in Norfolk. The walk starts from the village hall before passing by the church and pub (salvation and damnation!) and then heading alongside farmland to reach the small but perfectly formed Harnser Wood and back into the village.

The walk is almost entirely flat and follows a mixture of quiet country lanes, field edge paths and woodland grass paths which will be muddy after wet weather. There are no stiles and just a couple of kissing gates. The field edge path can be quite overgrown with nettles and brambles so shorts are not advisable! Approximate time 45 minutes.

The walk starts from Elsing Village Hall on Church Street. There is a small car park alongside the hall, or roadside parking is available on Church Street. Elsing village is accessed from the B1147. Approximate post code NR20 3EA.

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Walk Sections

Village Hall to Heath Road
Village Hall to Heath Road

Start point: 52.7079 lat, 1.0379 long
End point: 52.7113 lat, 1.0378 long

From the village hall, turn right out onto Church Street, and continue along the road. You will come to the Mermaid Inn on the right, with the Church over to the left.

It is not unusual for churches and pubs to be in close proximity in villages. Often the village school will also be nearby, giving rise to the expression ‘education, salvation, damnation’. The Mermaid Inn dates from around 1540. The Church of St Mary the Virgin was built in 1347 by the local Lord of the Manor, Sir Hugh Hastings, as a thanks offering for his safe return from the French wars. The church nave is thought to have the widest pillarless span of any parish church in England.

Immediately after the Mermaid Inn, turn right (signed for Bylaugh and Bawdeswell) onto Church Road. Continue along the lane and follow it as it bends to the left. Through the hedge on the left you will see the large fishing ponds of the adjacent Bartles Lodge. Continue to a T-junction.

Heath Road to Harnser Wood
Heath Road to Harnser Wood

Start point: 52.7113 lat, 1.0378 long
End point: 52.7107 lat, 1.028 long

At the T-junction turn left onto Heath Road. After just less than 100 yards and as the road bends sharp left, fork right to take the grass path running ahead to the right of an arable field.

Continue along the narrow footpath with hedgerows each side. As the hedgerow on the left gives way continue along the field edge path, keeping the field boundary close to your right. Across to the left you will have great views back to the village and church.

You will emerge out alongside a metal gate to a T-junction with a tarmac lane. Cross diagonally to the left to reach the tall wooden kissing gate marking the entrance to Harnser Wood.

Harnser Wood to Village Hall
Harnser Wood to Village Hall

Start point: 52.7107 lat, 1.028 long
End point: 52.7079 lat, 1.0367 long

Pass through the tall metal kissing gate to enter the young woodland. Keep right to follow the path nearest the arable field on the right. Keep right at the next fork, following the outer path around the woodland.

You will pass by a bench on the right, commemorating the Queen’s Golden Jubilee in 2003. Continue ahead to reach a small clearing with a circular stone and wooden bench, adorned with a carved heron on one side. Over to the right is an information board about the wood.

Harnser Wood was planted in November 2000 on 11 acres of former farmland. It is one of 250 woods planted in celebration of the millennium as part of the ‘woods on your doorstep’ project. Most of the trees are native oak, hornbeam, ash and birch, and others include rowan, beech and wild cherry. Harnser is the Norfolk word for Heron, which is the emblem of the Norfolk Women’s Institute who were instrumental in the development of the woodland.

To continue turn left immediately after the seat to follow the grass path ahead. After just a few paces, fork right following the grass path as it gradually bends right with the church now over to your right. After a little distance pass through the kissing gate on your right to emerge out onto the road. Go straight ahead signed for Lyng and Sparham. As the road bends left, fork right signed to Hockering.

On your left you’ll see the village sign for Elsing. The sign depicts Elesa, a Danish chieftan, with his wolfhound. It is thought that the village name Elsing means ‘Elesa’s people’.

Follow the road as it bends left. You will pass the entrance to Bartles Fishing Lodge on the left and the church on the right. Go straight ahead to reach the village hall car park.

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Text and images for this walk are Copyright © 2012 by the author clairesharpuk 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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