This hike came from Laurence Mitchell‘s excellent “Walking in Norfolk  - 40 circular walks” book.

I took the train up to King’s Lynn, hopped on a bus to Narborough and soon found myself on the Nar Valley Way.  The river Nar itself runs for 15 miles, winding its way through west Norfolk before joining up with the river Great Ouse.

Nar Valley Way marker

Nar Valley Way

The start of the walk took me past the Narborough mill, built in 1780.

Narborough mill

Narborough mill

A short while later I had left the village and joined the course of the Nar through the heart of the Norfolk countryside.

River Nar

River Nar

The remains of the Narborough Bone Mill sits on the north bank of the Nar.

Built in the 19th century, the mill was used to grind bones into agricultural fertilizer.  Rather disconcertingly, the bones sometimes included those of humans exhumed from cemeteries in Hamburg in Germany!

Narborough Bone Mill

Narborough Bone Mill

I took a diversion from the walk to take a quick look at Marham Fen, a short way from the river.  Managed by the Norfolk Wildlife Trust, the Fen is mainly woodland and meadows though I can imagine it becoming quite boggy in the winter.  It will be worthwhile coming back for a more detailed exploration some time.

Entrance to Marham Fen

Entrance to Marham Fen

Back to the river and I go for a paddle to refresh my feet.

In the Nar

In the Nar

The temptation to lie down in the shallow waters was immense but alas I carried no towel in my daysack.

Waterlevel

Waterlevel

I ate lunch at the halfway point.

Nar crossroads

Nar crossroads

From here, the walk leaves the river and starts the journey back to Narborough.

Along the way I passed a restored Augustinian priory.  Founded in 1130, the priory is now a hotel and looks quite impressive.

The landowners have placed a sign on the public footpath stating no right of way for walkers,  this is a lie. Follow the map, which, in this case, is most definitely the territory.

Augustinian Pentney Priory

The Augustinian Pentney Priory

The rest of the hike took me alongside fields full of the summer.

Norfolk summer country lanes

Norfolk summer country lanes

I passed a path covered in sea shells.  I’m not sure what this means.

Shell path

Shell path

On entering the village of Pentney I passed a roadside stall selling various fruit and veggies.  A little sign pleaded for honesty otherwise they’d have to shut up shop.

Stall at Pentney

Stall at Pentney

Just outside Pentney I came across a poem that someone had attached to a gate.

Belonging - A Pentney poem

Belonging – A Pentney poem

The first paragraph reads:

I’ve allegiance to nowhere, no particular base;
no sense of belonging, from birth, to one place.
I’ve no roots to speak of, but wherever I’ve been,
a cutting’s been taken and left at the scene

No author’s name is cited, searches on the web brought up nothing.  An anonymous countryside poet, such a fine idea, we need more of this kind of thing.

I reached Narborough hoping for a pint but the pub is now a Chinese restaurant. On the way to the bus stop I popped into the Narborough museum, a large room in an old chapel, well worth checking out if you’re in the village.

The bus took me to King’s Lynn station where I discovered the next train to Ely was not for another 50 minutes.  So I crossed the road to the Fenman pub and ordered a pint of very cold Stella.  The perfect end to a fine day’s hiking in the glorious Norfolk countryside.

 

 

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I walked this stage of the Icknield Way Path expedition at the end of May 2014.

I arrived at Royston and picked up the Icknield Way east towards Great Chesterford, a hike of about twelve miles.

Leaving Royston took me over the Greenwich Meridian, a good place to check that one’s compass is actually working (mine was).

Greenwich Meridian outside Royston

Greenwich Meridian outside Royston

Half an hour later I was on the trail proper.

Icknield Way marker post

Icknield Way marker post

The countryside looked and felt exuberant in the early summer light.

Countryside view

Summer on the Icknield Way

After a couple of hours I discovered I had crossed the county border and was now in Essex.  This came as something of a (pleasant) surprise as I was expecting to be in Hertfordshire.

I haven’t hiked in Essex at all but am keen to do so, it’s a large county just asking for exploration.

Essex sign post

Essex!

In the village of Chrishall I came across an old water pump.

Old pump, Chrishall

Old pump, Chrishall

and a rather spooky abandoned cottage.  Looks like something out of the Blair Witch Project.

Spooky cottage, Chrishall

Spooky cottage, Chrishall

I ate my lunch beside the fine church at Elmdon.

St Nicholas church, Elmdon

St Nicholas church, Elmdon

The countryside was gently rolling and very inviting in the afternoon sun.  I sat down for a break and watched fighter jets from the nearby Duxford air show as they looped-the-loop and pirouetted in the summer sky.

Near Strethall

Near Strethall

I did consider a short siesta but time was against me as I wanted to catch the hourly train at Great Chesterford.

Near Strethall

Near Strethall

The last half hour or so of the hike took me across fields…

Towards Great Chesterford

Towards Great Chesterford

…and through  green corridors.

Green corridor

Green corridor

And then, suddenly, I was on a footbridge above a busy dual-carriage way and jogging the final 100 metres to Great Chesterford station where I could see my train pulling-in.  Just on time!

Essex is a fine county indeed, one I’m looking forward to seeing more of.  As for the Icknield Way, the next stage is a long one, 18 miles or so, perhaps this calls for a cheeky wild camp? We’ll see.

 

 

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In praise of wild camping – Roger Deakin in Grovely Wood

May 7, 2014

Roger Deakin was an English writer and environmentalist, he died in 2006.  Deakin is probably best know for his book Waterlog in which he describes his adventures wild swimming in UK rivers and lakes. His last book, Wildwood, was published posthumously in 2007. In Wildwood, Deakin crosses the country  visiting woodland and talking to people working with, and […]

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On the Icknield Way – Baldock to Royston

April 27, 2014

I walked this stage of the Icknield Way Path expedition on Easter Monday 2014. I hopped on the train at Ely, changed at Cambridge where I had a rather tasty bacon roll and a cuppa tea.  Then jumped on the train south. I arrived in Baldock on a cool, misty morning.  The sign below greeted […]

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The Icknield Way Path

April 17, 2014

The  Icknield Way Path runs 110 miles from  Ivinghoe Beacon in Buckinghamshire, to  Knettishall Heath in Suffolk. Rather confusingly, the path is also a section of the longer Icknield Way that is made up of four paths, stretching from the north Norfolk coast to Wiltshire, more on all that another time. I had intended to walk the […]

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An early spring wild camp in Badger Wood – Hertfordshire

April 13, 2014

I had been looking forward to my first wild camp of the 2014. I had hoped for a camp in January and February, fantasising about waking up in a silent-morning wood with frost, or better still, snow on the ground.  But alas we were denied a winter and instead were given an angry, wet Autumn […]

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In praise of wild camping – John Muir in Bonaventure cemetery

March 22, 2014

Scottish-American John Muir (1838 – 1914) is credited as one of the first advocates of wilderness preservation in the United States.  He was a prolific walker and spent many, many nights sleeping out under the moon and stars. The following lines are taken from ‘A Thousand-Mile Walk to the Gulf‘, an account of his hike from Indiana […]

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Five wintry walks in the French Pyrenees

March 15, 2014

Yes, it’s the annual family journey to the French Pyrenees for some skiing. I, however,  am not really a huge fan of hurtling down a mountain at 60mph, so for me it’s snowshoes and hiking. Walk 1 – ascent of the Serre de Moncamp We went up to Camurac our local, very unpretentious,  little ski […]

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Wild Camping plans for 2014

February 15, 2014

So here’s a list of possible wild camp locations for 2014: In a certain wood in Hertfordshire DONE On a picturesque bank along the River Great Ouse In a different wood in Hertfordshire In a little wood in Northamptonshire, not far from the Grand Union Canal On the summit of Invinghoe Beacon On a beach on the […]

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King’s Cross to Birmingham via the Grand Union canal. Stage 7: Leighton Buzzard to Milton Keynes

February 8, 2014

This is the seventh stage of the King’s Cross to Birmingham jaunt via the Grand Union Canal. On the map below you can see the stages completed prior to this one (red line), and the stage completed on this occasion (yellow line). Birmingham itself is up in the top left corner and we’re getting closer all […]

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