Route details, maps, pubs, features, local history and folklore for a wide variety of walks focusing primarily on Norfolk and Suffolk

Tuesday, 8 January 2019

The Iceni Way - Kings Lynn to Hunstanton

Castle Rising

A 20 mile walk along the Kings Lynn to Hunstanton section of the Iceni Way

There is no official footpath or right of way to walk the complete distance along the coast between Kings Lynn and Hunstanton. It can be done by navigating the defence banks and farm tracks and ignoring the odd 'No Access' sign. However, an alternative walk to link these two towns is to use the Iceni Way. This is a walk designated by the Ramblers using existing tracks and footpaths linking the interesting and scenic villages of Castle Rising, Sandringham and Dersingham before it navigates back to the shores of the Wash at Snettisham. With vast expanses of sand when the tide is out, this part of the coast is truly an awe-inspiring sight looking across towards Boston and Skegness. You can walk out for miles before the sea is reached.

Kings Lynn to Hunstanton Walk - Essential Information

Walk Statistics:

Start point
Kings Lynn View in OS Map | View in Google Map
End Point
Hunstanton View in OS Map | View in Google Map
Total Walk distance
20 miles
Walk difficulty
Easy

Maps:

The following maps and services can assist in navigating this route. The links include published hard copy as well as online plots and downloadable GPX route data for importing into navigational software and apps.

Ordnance Survey Explorer Map
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Online Ordnance Survey Route
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Online OpenStreetMap Route
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Online Google Route
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ViewRanger App Route
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GPX data for route (download)

Accommodation:

Mill Farm Camping and Caravan siteView in OS Map | View in Google Map
Website
Description
Mill Farm camping and caravan site, Wells-next-the-sea. Close to town and basic amenities

Transport:

Details of public transport that is required for the walk

Various Operators - Bus Service
Service Details
Coasthopper CH1, CH2, CH3 - Unfortunately, in recent years the highly acclaimed Coasthopper bus service has suffered from subsequent takeovers with a consequent deterioration of the service and continuing doubts upon is viability. Due to its constant changing operators, it is therefore best to use the Traveline website to determine the current timetables and services.
Timetable

Walk Data

Date of Walk
2011-07-02
Walk Time
10:00 to 17:30
Walkers
Griffmonster, Kat
Weather Conditions
Very warm day, plenty of sunshine

Walk Notes

This was the final part of the Norfolk Coast which we had yet to walk and it had taken some time to work out the route to take. Initially the consideration of strictly following the coastline was contemplated but these provided some apprehension as it requires traversing private tracks with the prospect of encountering angry land-owners. It was the Ramblers Association that brought attention to the so called Iceni Way, a route to link the Kings Lynn and Hunstantion, making use of recognised public rights of way. A detailed guide can be purchased from the Ramblers Association which is well worth getting for those contemplating this route. Although the trail is some way off of the coast, it does visit the historic settlements of Castle Rising and Sandringham to provide additional interest.

Like most of the North Norfolk Coast, this section is served by the Coasthopper bus service. At the time of walking this was an excellent and well used service provided by the Norfolk Green company. Unfortunately, although well patronised the service has been sold off and has become fragmented although the western end between Kings Lynn and Hunstanton is still well served. For this specific walk, a base camp was set up at Wells-next-the-sea, the Mill Farm site a personal favourite although being fairly basic probably it nonetheless offers all that a walker requires and is in close proximity to the town centre. Setting out from Wells does provide some logistic challenges and in order to achieve the walk within the constraints of the bus timetable requires setting out on the early bus in order to provide a full days walking and rendezvous with the last bus back.

The walk will not disappoint, Castle Rising and Sandringham definitely rewarding the walker with choosing this route option. Although with limited time one can only wander through these places and briefly admire and soak up the history, it nonetheless does inspire future visits where more time is available. The broad road up to Sandringham is littered with tourist cars and motorvans parked up on the wide verges.

Once at Snettisham one is provided with the vast open panoramas of the Wash, with sands that seem to disappear into the horizon at low tide. In the distance, given a clear day such as this, the Lincolnshire coast can clearly be seen on the opposite side to this huge inlet of water, the drainage area to the rivers Nene, Ouse and Welland.

Castle Rising Castle
Castle Rising Castle

Directions

The path follows the Iceni Way. Unfortunately there are no waymarkers to provide directions and therefore a copy of the Iceni Way guide from the Ramblers Association and an OS map are vital. The path uses a mixture of footpaths and tracks and some road walking to link Kings Lynn and Hunstanton. Taking in South Wooton, North Wooton, Castle Rising, Sandringham and Dersingham, the path then heads out to the coast at Snettisham from where it is a coastal walk up to Hunstanton.

Kings Lynn to Dersingham

From the centre of Kings Lynn the path follows the old railway track out to the edge of South Wooton on the A1078.Head down the road and turn the first left up0 Hall Lane. There's a path on the right heading in the same general direction as the road and this comes out by the Church. Carry straight on along the footpath opposite the church and then straight ahead up the road this comes out on. A footpath on the right of the road leads through to North Wooton, heading into the housing estate on the right of the path. Walk down to the main road, cross and carry on the footpath which bears round to the left behind the houses. Go all the way through on this path until it comes out on Little Car Road. Turn right at the junction and take the footpath on the left a few hundred yards on. This leads through to Castle Rising where it follows the road through the village, down to the Castle then back round a sharp bend. As the road bends round again carry straight on and follow this old road to the main A149. Walk along the cycle track until this ends. Cross the road and head up the little road to Sandringham. There is now a few miles of walking along these roads past Sandringham and down into Dersingham.

Dersingham to Hunstanton

Take Station Road out of Dersingham, cross the main A149 and a track leads all the way down to the beach. Follow the beach northwards passing by Snettisham and Heacham and ending at Hunstanton.

Memorial at SandringhamSculpture marking the National Cycle Network Route 1
On the left Memorial at Sandringham; On the right Sculpture marking the National Cycle Network Route 1

Pubs

Coach and Horses, Dersingham View in OS Map | View in Google Map

Image of pub
Address
Coach and Horses, Dersingham
Website

A traditional pub village offering Traditional home-cooked food and guest ales as well as accommodation.

Review

A thrist quenching pint of Woodfordes Wherry.

The Feathers, Dersingham View in OS Map | View in Google Map

Image of pub
Address
The Feathers, Dersingham
Website

This former carrstone coaching inn is steeped in royal history dating back to 1882 when the hotel was purchased as part of the Sandringham estate for Albert Edward, Prince of Wales and named The Feathers in his honour. Prior to its royal connections it was named The Cock until fire damaged the building in the 1800's. It was subsequently rebuilt and named The Lamb.

The large building accommodates a range of en-suite bedrooms, a restaurant, three bars, and an outdoor patio and large landscaped gardens including a childrens area.

Review

Busy yet friendly pub with a large garden. Excellent food. Serving Adnams and Woodfordes.

Ruins of St Felix Church
Ruins of St Felix Church

Features

Castle Rising CastleView in OS Map | View in Google Map

The castle keep at Castle Rising is one of the most famous twelfth-century hall-keeps in the country. To the north of the castle is a ruined church that dates to around 1100, and both this church and the keep appear to have been rendered and whitewashed during the early medieval period.

The earthworks surrounding the castle keep are some of the largest in the country, although both the castle and the earthworks were originally half their current size. Their present appearance is the result of a major building programme of the late 12th or early 13th century.

It is possible that this major rebuilding took place as a reaction to the Revolt of 1173–1174 and the increased military activity generated. The chief rebel in East Anglia was Hugh Bigod, 1st Earl of Norfolk a rival to William d'Aubigny, who seized Norwich Castle during the rebellion. William returned from Normandy to meet Bigod in battle, and the upgrading of Castle Rising may be seen as a result of this.

During the Anarchy the castle was the site of a mint producing pennies for King Stephen. Between 1330 and 1358, it was the residence of the displaced former queen, Isabella of France, known as the 'she-wolf of France'. She married Edward ll in 1308, but soon found he preferred the company of men. She had an affair Roger Mortimer and in 1326 they took the throne from Edward ll. They imprisoned him in Berkeley Castle and in 1327 had him murdered. They enjoyed a brief period in power but Isabella`s son, Edward lll, took control in 1330 and had Mortimer executed. Unable to bring himself to kill his mother, Edward III is thought to have had Isabella imprisoned within the castle. In her later years she is said to have suffered dementia and spent most of her time in the upper floors of the castle which would probably explain the screams of a mad woman which have been reported coming from the castle in the middle of the night!

References

Ruins of St Felix ChurchView in OS Map | View in Google Map

From Babingley Bridge on the former main road between Castle Rising and the modern A149 one can just view the remains of St Felix Church in the meadows close to the river. This ivy clad ruin is said to be the first Christian Church erected in the county and was still a working church in the early 19th century. All that remains is the 14th century tower and an empty shell including a blocked off chancel with a window set into it.

References

Sandringham EstateView in OS Map | View in Google Map

Sandringham is the country retreat of Her Majesty The Queen, and has been the private home of four generations of British monarchs since 1862. The house, set in 24 hectares of stunning gardens, and is at the heart of the 8,000-hectare Sandringham Estate, 240 hectares of which make up the woodland and heath of the Country Park. The Estate includes the tidal mudflats of the Wash, woodland and wetland, arable, livestock and fruit farms, and commercial and residential properties and a museum. It is open to the public free of charge every day of the year.

The site has been occupied since Elizabethan times, and, in 1771, architect Cornish Henley cleared the site to build Sandringham Hall. The hall was modified during the 19th century by Charles Spencer Cowper, a stepson of Lord Palmerston, who added an elaborate porch and conservatory, designed by architect Samuel Sanders Teulon. In 1862, the hall was purchased by Queen Victoria at the request of the Prince of Wales (the future Edward VII) as a home for himself and his new bride, Alexandra. However, in 1865, two years after moving in, the prince found the hall's size insufficient for his needs, and he commissioned A J Humbert to raze the hall and create a larger building.

Since King George VI died in 1952 at Sandringham, Queen Elizabeth II's custom has been to spend the anniversary of her father's death and her own Accession privately with her family at the House. It is her official base until February each year. The house was first opened to the public in 1977, and there is a museum with displays of Royal life and Estate history.

References
Hunstanton
Hunstanton

Gallery

Below are a selection of images taken from from the photo album for this walk. Feel free to browse through these or click on an image to view a larger version in the Gallery.

Summary of Document Changes

Last Updated: 2019-01-08

2011-08-07 : Initial publication
2017-02-05 : General website updates
2019-01-08 : General website updates + updates to notes

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