Here’s a quick overview of the practicalities of the Weavers Way, as at July 2017. As always, things change so please do your own research. When I get round to it, I’ll post a brief journal of our four day summer stroll around what amounts to just a small corner of our home county.
The Weavers Way runs for just under 100km of completely flat Norfolk terrain between Cromer and Great Yarmouth. A fit hiker could scuttle along it in three days but four is more normal and sensible. Either end is easily accessible by train from Norwich so it makes an ideal long weekend.
The trail is clearly marked on OS maps and has recently had all new signage installed which makes following it very easy. We barely needed the map thanks to the signs and to the GPX Waypoints from the Long Distance Walkers Association (members only for data files) downloaded into the free* mapping app OsmAnd on my phone. Below are some screenshots. The waypoints were completely reliable as far as we could work out and were adequately precise even in the middle of Halvergate Marshes. OsmAnd needs no signal or mobile data which is useful in Norfolk. (*The contour lines plugin cost £2.09 but, trust me, you don’t need contour lines on the Weavers Way).
Walking north to south, these are the basics:
Day One (in theory).
Cromer has multiple BnBs but campers will have to go a little way out of town, although this year there was a temporary site more centrally in August. The nearest YHA Hostel is at Sheringham which is two stops further along at the very end of the railway line, has pubs, food and a late Tesco. This would add 6 km of breezy clifftops and/or beaches to your first morning with plenty of breakfast options at Cromer. On the downside, if the tide is high this section of the Norfolk Coast Path picks its way through serial caravan parks (including one at East Runton where you can camp, a much closer budget option).
About 22 km south of Cromer the trail brings you to Aylsham which has lots of food plus a few BnBs and makes a natural end to day one. However the only campsite is Top Farm at Little London which is 3 km out of town, adding 6 km to your trail. The campsite at Alby, infuriatingly, has a two night minimum stay so is useless for trailwalkers. There’s a BnB directly on the trail at Erpingham (below, but of which I have no firsthand experience) however unless you do start from Sheringham that’s a pretty short first day.
Around Felmingham and Skeyton the trail runs along an abandoned railway cutting and at the top of the steep bank among the bushes here I noticed a few spots where discrete wild camping might be feasible.
Aylsham to North Walsham is about 11 km, there’s plenty of food and shopping here and another potential BnB directly on the trail (below) of which again I have no first hand knowledge. Another 8 km or so brings you to Dilham where there’s a campsite, whoop! Unfortunately when we walked the Weavers’ Way this was closed as the (very friendly) owners were on holiday. We camped at Stalham’s Broadsedge Marina, where the tent area is small so you need to book which may involve multiple phone messages. Stalham is an easy 25 km from Alysham overall and has pubs and shopping.
From Stalham you’ll probably be too early for the pub at Hickling and the next section is quite wild and woolly but there’s lavish refreshment and shopping at Potter Heigham (about 14 km).
There’s refreshment (and escape to Norwich) at Acle slightly off the trail about 8km onwards but this is Broadland now so you’ll find several riverside pubs and cafes directly on the path in this area.
Stock up, as apart from the pub at Halvergate (which wasn’t open) there’s nothing then until Yarmouth, the formerly famous facilities at Berney Arms (17 km) being at the time of writing semi-derelict and completely unreliable even in the summer season.
It’s quite a trudge round Breydon Water into Great Yarmouth, about a 26 km day overall from Thurne and surprisingly tiring if it’s windy. Your best bet for digs here might be one of the umpteen Mrs Miggins seaside guesthouses. We camped at the friendly Vauxhall Holiday Park which was an extraordinary experience and actually most enjoyable, but the park is surprisingly tricky to access from the trail (frankly downright hazardous when the A47 is busy). By the bus interchange in Yarmouth there’s Wetherspoons for a slap-up breakfast, then regular trains and buses take you to Norwich, or in our case back homewards to Cromer.
The Weavers’ Way is entirely flat, easy walking through farmland and along dykes and old railway lines. It can be completed in sandals, in fact my companion did exactly that although after four days of grass seeds in her socks she rather wished she’d worn trainers instead. I wore my mesh trail shoes. Despite manfully volunteering to carry a two person tent for the entire 98 km I didn’t need poles on this unchallenging terrain.
Other than farm machinery and deep water hazards are few, but in colder months beware the exhausting and penetrating wind – we call it the Lazy Wind in Norfolk as it goes through you rather than round you. Halvergate Marshes can be terrifying in a winter storm, although if you’ve any sense at all either the road or railway should eventually guide you to civilisation. The skies really are amazing!
There really was a fireman…