After three days of walking, the Peddars Way finally reaches the Norfolk coast. Heacham is not officially on the Peddars Way or the North Norfolk Coast Path, but it was the only place we could find available accommodation in the Sedgeford and Ringstead area for that particular night. It had been a tough few days walking on hard tracks and lanes which had took its toll on the feet so the prospect of gentler coastal walking gave a focus to complete this National Trail and continue on the North Norfolk Coast Path. This section of the walk with its open landscape and undulating hills allowed us to see just how straight the trail was - it could be seen stretching out into the distance for miles.
Date of Walk: 2008-06-02
Start point: Castle Acre 52.702963 0.689164
End Point: Heacham 52.702963 0.689164
Start Time: 09:30
End time: 17:30
Distance: 19 miles
Walkers: Griffmonster, Steve M, Martin M, Steve W
Weather conditions: Hazy sunshine with some clouds, warm
Path taken: The road northwards out of Castle Acre is the Peddars Way. Although the road deviates off to the right the trail carries straight on using farm tracks and lanes in an absolute straight line all the way through to Holme next the Sea. You cannot get lost on this! To get to Heacham take the Sedgeford road at Fring and follow this through to Heacham.
Walk difficulty: Tough on the feet with a lot of road walking
- Harpley Common: 52.824297, 0.60969 0.760471 This Neolithic long barrow is visible as an oval mound 1.2m high and 31m long by 23m wide. This is part of a larger mound that has been destroyed by ploughing and the construction of the Harpley to Weasenham St Peter road. The mound is surrounded by a ditch about 4.5m wide. The ditch is now infilled. Local tradition asserts that treasure is buried in this tumulus and moreover it is said that rabbits will not burrow in it, or if they do they soon come out. Strangely enough there are very few rabbit burrows.
- Littleport and Magazine Cottage: 52.901862 0.560244 The hamlet of Littleport is located on the Sedgeford road at the point where the Peddars Way crosses. The community comprises of a small row of higgledy-piggledy cottages and a local landmark called Magazine Cottage. This was built in the 17th century by the Le Strange family during the civil war as a gunpowder magazine. Legend has it that a secret tunnel ran from the old armoury to the church in the heart of Sedgeford. Today this small part of Peddars Way has derived its name from this historical building with Magazine Wood and Magazine Farm just a few steps away. All these properties were formerly owned by William Newcombe-Baker, a local land owner whose estate formed much of the land surrounding the village. He was also a founder member of NORMAC, the Norfolk machinery body that did much in the 20th century to bring modern mechanisation to arable farming in East Anglia. Magazine Wood was rebuilt in 2000 and from this high vantage point on Peddars Way you can witness the sun setting over the sea - one of the very few places this is possible on the east coast of Britain.
Notes: During the planning of this trail we had agreed that as we would be carrying full back packs, complete with camping gear, that we should limit ourselves to 15 or 16 miles per day. The plans went well until this section when it soon became apparent that there was no accommodation available in the Sedgeford/Ringstead area - the little that was on offer, the campsite at Courtyard Farm Bunkhouse Barn and the rooms at the GinTrap Inn at Ringstead were all full for the night we needed to stayover. Despite a concerted effort, the nearest accommodation we could find was at Heacham and this would mean a days walk of 20 miles so we knew this would be a tough day and would take us away from the official route. Note that the section between Sedgeford and Holme will be covered in a later blog when I revistied this section. Without a doubt this was the most arduous stage of the Peddars Way. The trail is pretty level throughout but the hard tracks and metalled lanes make very sore feet. I dont usually suffer too much but this section had the soles of my feet feeling like they were separating from my body and Steve W was seriously contemplating about calling it a day when we got to Heacham such was the state of his blistered feet. We hobbled around to the West Norfolk pub for some dinner and soothing drinks and did not even contemplate searching out the Fox and Hounds home brew pub such was our weary condition. That evening we watched a thunderstorm in the west over the Wash and heard the weather forecast predicting some heavy rain for the next day. This did not help flagging spirits! In retrospect, we maybe should have broke this days walk up and gone off route into Great Massingham to explore and find some lunchtime refreshment and take a good rest. As it was, we did the entire stage with numerous short breaks and the only refeshment was the food we had purchased on the way out of Castle Acre. Despite the rigours of the day, one redeeming aspect of the walk was the country lane from the Peddars Way into Sedgford which was most uncharacteristic of Norfolk with the steep rolling hills on either side. At the time I remarked the fact as we past a farmhouse nestled in a hillside that we could have been in Yorkshire.
- The Peddars Way - Watton to Castle Acre
- The Peddars Way - Heacham to Brancaster
Equipment: 65l rucksack with full camping gear.
- OS Explorer Map Sheet 236 King’s Lynn, Downham Market & Swaffham
- OS Explorer Map Sheet 250 Norfolk Coast West
Accommodation: St Annes Guesthouse, Heacham comfortable guesthouse fairly close to the seafront ( 52.702963 0.689164 )
View Peddars Way - Castle Acre to Heacham in a larger map
Last Updated: 2014-01-02Z