The Weavers Way – Farms, Fens and Firemen

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.

windmill at thrine on the weavers way trail norfolk england

Thurne Mill

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).

cromer north norfolk england beach

Beach huts at Cromer

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.

bed and breakfast in north norfolk

This is directly on the trail at Erpingham, althugh I’ve no idea what it’s like.

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.

Day Two.

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.north-walsham-bnb-weavers-way 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.

Day Three.

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).

norfolk broads england

Potter Heigham

We then camped at Thurne, about a 22km day overall. The pub here had recently been reopened and was doing food but check first as these establishments notoriously wax and wane.

derelict windmill at sutton in norfolk broads

Sutton Mill

Day Four.

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.

norfolk broads cruiser and river england

Quintessential Broadland at Clippesby

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.

norfolk broads england

Breydon Water. It’s Suffolk over there…

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.

ruined church at Tunstall in norfolk broads england

Atmospheric ruined church at Tunstall

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!

norfolk broads england

Halvergate Marshes – can be a bit bleak!

There really was a fireman…

 

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One comment

  1. I’m liking it before reading it (I’m inclined to do things in a back to front manner) but you see I’m saving it for my Sunday evening read material.

    Like

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