On the Nar Valley Way – a Norfolk river walk

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.


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.



22 thoughts on “On the Nar Valley Way – a Norfolk river walk

  1. Nice.
    Another bimble to add to my list.
    Knee is getting better, so some time late July I need to get out and test it.
    Been OK on bike recently.

      1. Hopefully North Norfolk Coast in Late July/August, Dartmoor for 4 days in late August, Dales in Sep and maybe Scotland or Peaks in Oct.
        Depends on how quickly knee is good for walking distances.
        Good on bike up to 50 miles, so fingers crossed.
        Mind you, late July could see a visit to the Nar, it looks good, and easy to get to from here.
        Actually, there is a lot of Norfolk I need to explore.
        Then of course there is also the early bit of the Icknield Way to do.
        Biked a chunk of it locally earlier this week.

  2. It seems like it was a lovely walk. It’s a shame you didn’t have a towel with you. Even just looking at the picture the temptation to lie down in the water is strong.
    I really like the little shop and poems. There should be more of them lying around 🙂

  3. Glad you like the book, Martin. Thank you for the endorsement.
    When I was last there, the priory was covered in scaffolding – it looks like they have finished the renovation now. Very cheeky of them to put a sign up saying no access. Places like Narborough need a pub more than they need a Chinese restauarnt but I suppose that this is just a sad reflection of the times we live in – it is difficult to keep a rural going unless it becomes a ‘gastro’ estbalishment.
    All the best, Laurence

  4. Does the River Nar enter the River Great Ouse at Kings Lynn?
    When I started sailing I spent a summer in a creek in Kings Lynn, called The Nar. It was the very end of a small river, a curve if silted up channel with a quayside and free mooring. That was in 1991 and there was a tall brick chimney next to it, since demolished.

    1. Yes, the Nar enters the Great Ouse at King’s Lynn though I don’t think it is navigable any longer.

  5. Really lovely Martin, I also like the photograph of your feet in the water, and your shadow.

    Thank you kindly.

    L 🙂

  6. Definitely.
    It is those HILLIST people..
    They think flat is pointless.
    And as such are missing out on some fantastic walks and scenery.
    But we get to walk it without masses.

    1. Glad you like the site. The Nar is ripe for exploration though it was quite shallow at the part I visited.

  7. Watching this Martin and looking at The Narborough Bone Wheel,it makes me want to get out hiking.
    This is something,I want to do more of.
    Not just wildcamping,but getting out to new places and exploring.
    Which can only help me with my wildcamping.
    Beautiful pictures,Martin.
    A pint of Stella at the end ?.
    Can’t fault ya.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *