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Saturday, 22 October 2011

An Autumns Ramble to Witness the Yare Navigation Race


A 12 mile walk from Loddon to Reedham along the Wherrymans Way, returning along the same route.

I have wanted to walk the Wherrymans Way for some years now and this section is the starter for the rest of the route. This is the only section that does not have specific public transport and would need a journey to either Great Yarmouth or Norwich to get back to the start. Thus it was on this particular walk that we decided to treat it as a straight forward there and back walk, which was about 11 miles in total. To add to the interest, it was the day of the annual Yare Navigation Race, and although not a budding enthusiast for sailing craft, it nonetheless provided a topic for the day and added interest to the walk. The route is a mixture of footpaths and quiet country lanes passing the quaint little 12th century church of St Gregory at Hecklingham and the curiously named hamlet of Nogdam End before having to cross the River Yare on the Reedham Ferry, which was free for those having a drink at the Ferry Inn which necessitated us having to stop off for a pint of Ferrymans Ale. Its a tough life!

Loddon to Reedham Walk - Essential Information

Walk Statistics:

Start point
LoddonView in OS Map | View in Google Map
End Point
ReedhamView in OS Map | View in Google Map
Total Walk distance
6 miles
Walk difficulty

Walk Data

Date of Walk
Walk Time
10:30 to 16:30
Griffmonster, Kat
Weather Conditions
Sunny day end of summer day

Walk Notes

It was a lovely early autumn day with the hedgerows full of sloes and the acorns and horse chestnuts starting to drop from the trees. It was the Yare Navigation Race that really prompted us to do this walk as this then provided added reason to get to Reedham. The race has been an annual event along the river since 1976 and is organised by the Coldham Hall Sailing Club. It entails sail cruisers navigating the distance between Coldham Hall near Norwich and Breydon Water and back, a total distance of some 30 to 34 miles depending on the exact placement of the turning buoy on Breydon. This is a timed race with Skippers allowed to choose their own start time which leaves it up to their skill and judgement in getting the best out of the winds and tide. The perfect course would be to meet the turn of the tide at Breydon and thus have the tide with them for the whole route. The results are worked out on a local handicap with a percentage of each yacht's time being added or subtracted to their elapsed time to give the corrected time.

At Reedham, where the railway swing bridge presents a particular hazard, the yachts are timed out of the race whilst they negotiate the narrow bridge channel. This provides a perfect vantage point to view the race as the boats start to circle up and down the quay each time the swing bridge closes. This scene made a pleasant backdrop to lunch in the Ships pub garden that borders the river by the bridge.

Up to 72 entries are allowed in the race but not all complete the course. In 1980, only twenty eight boats finished when the wind died completely and a thick fog rolled in with one yacht, the Condor, being sunk after hitting an unseen channel marker on Breydon. In 1985, only twenty one completed the course because of near gale force winds which resulted in much damage to the yachts including one which lost four masts. During the last few years the number of finishers has been reduced by the wind falling off in the late afternoon. On this particular occasion the wind was enough to carry the boats swiftly downstream past Reedham. Looking at their website it would appear that all 50 of this years entries completed the race with the winner, number 369 Moonshadow skippered by a T Moore, achieving an adjusted time 5 hours 6 minutes and 58 seconds.

The walk also coincided with the Ferry Fest, a weekend music festival held on the grounds of the Reedham Ferry camp site. Acts included Scott Wright, Dumbfoundus, Tom Pearce, Lee Vann, Axel Loughrey, Killamonjambo, Crumbs for Comfort, James Veira, Solko and many more. Maybe another year we may spend the weekend at the event but thats for another blog post!

The Cockatrice

An interesting building worthy of note is the isolated white house at Norton Staithe which is located on the final stretch of road leading up to the Ferry and marked on the OS Map simply as Cockatrice. This unassuming building was a pub of the same name and part of the Norwich brewery's Steward and Patteson tied estate. It is said to have finally closed its doors in 1922, though there is some speculation that it remained open up until 1930 as related in Arthur Patterson's book Through Broadland by Sail and Motor where he describes a visit to the hostelry in that year, as well as indicating that it used to be the haunt of smugglers known as Breydon Pirates. The building dates from the early nineteenth century and it is not clear why it obtained such a name of Cockatrice which is most unusual and probably the only example in England. A cockatrice is a heraldic term for a small but dangerous mythical monster which has the head, upper body and legs of a cock and a lower body which tapers away to a reptilian, or dragons tail. It is said that its bite was venomous and that its eyes could kill a man simply by staring at him. The creature is said to hatch from an egg that is laid on a dunghill by an elderly cock rather than a hen, which is then hatched out by a snake or a toad. The only method to kill this monster was to make it see its own reflection either by placing a mirror at the entrance to its den or by wearing glass armour when going into battle against it.

Yare Navigation Race through Reedham SwingbridgeThe race heads down to Breydon Water
On the left Yare Navigation Race through Reedham Swingbridge; On the right The race heads down to Breydon Water


The Wherrymans Way is well marker out with the distinctive waymarkers.

The Wherrymans Way leaves Loddon through the church grounds continuing on along a footpath across the marshes. When this meets the road continue straight on along another footpath which meets a second road. Turn right, then left at the road junction. Follow the road past the track to Beech Grove Farm, then at the next track on the left the route cuts diagonally across the field. This is not very well defined and it is a case of heading over towards the opposite hedge where there is a style by the side of the cottages. On the lane turn left, then there is a waymarker by the opposite cottage which leads down a footpath behind the buildings and alongside a field before it heads down through a copse of trees and over a stream before coming out at Hecklingham Church. Take the lane from the church to the road, turn left and follow the road taking the next left fork and follow this all the way through to the ferry. Once across the river the path follows the river bank to Reedham village.

The statue of Aelfric Modercope on Farthing GreenHoly Trinity Church, Loddon
On the left The statue of Aelfric Modercope on Farthing Green; On the right Holy Trinity Church, Loddon


Reedham Ferry Inn View in OS Map | View in Google Map

Image of pub
Reedham Ferry Inn

Set beside the river by the ferry, the Reedham Ferry Inn offers local Norfolk ales and a wide choice of food from simple bar snacks to continental and British fayre made from fresh local produce including prime meats from the local butcher and hand picked fresh fish from Lowestoft market. There is a riverside patio area where there are also free moorings plus free showers for those who are dining!


This pub was included in the Woodfordes ale trail, but with this being the final weekend and only one stamp left to fill a line on the card we forsook the Wherry ale in preference for a pint of aptly named Ferryman Ale from Reedhams finest Humpty Dumpty brewery.

Ship Inn, Reedham View in OS Map | View in Google Map

Image of pub
Ship Inn, Reedham

Quay side pub next to Reedham swing bridge. Extensive garden on the riverside. Food and Woodfordes beers available.


Woodfordes Wherry was a perfect compliment to one of their ploughmans. On ordering and stamping our Ale Trail cards the landlord complimented us on how many pub visits we had achieved and we got into a conversation about the merits of this Woodfordes publicity stunt.

St Gregory's Church, Hecklingham
St Gregory's Church, Hecklingham


Aelfric ModercopeView in OS Map | View in Google Map

As the road leads out of Loddon, where the High Street meets the Beccles road, there is a half-life size statue standing in the centre of what is known as Farthing Green. This statue of a caped and helmeted figure with sword clinched in his left hand and is a depiction of the Saxon hero Aelfric Modercope. Below the statue is a wooden plinth states that includes a plaque inscribed with the words "Aelfric Modercope was the original Saxon lord of Loddon and gave the land to the abbey of st Edmund of bury in the reign of Edward the confessor 1042-1066".

The earliest written mention of Loddon is in the will of Aelfric Modercope written in 1042 or 1043 'before he went across the sea' where he died between 1051 and 1057. Aelfric is an English name and Modercope is a Danish nickname which suggests that there was a strong Anglo-Danish movement during these times. It has been suggested that due to Aelfric's role and status that he may well have been the dapifer (steward) to Emma of Normandy, who died in 1042. Queen Emma was a pivotal figure in English history. She was child bride to Aethelred the Unready and on his death and after the successful invasion by Cnut (Canute) she was married to the invader to help legitimise his claim to the throne. Two of her sons succeeded to the throne, Harthacnut who ruled from 1040 to 1042 and Edward the Confessor who ruled from 1042 to 1066. She was also the beginning of the connection that led to the Norman invasion of 1066.

St Gregory's Church, HecklinghamView in OS Map | View in Google Map

On a hillock overlooking the River Chet is a flint and limestone church with thatched roof by the name of St Gregory's in the parish of Hecklingham. The building dates from the 12th century with additions in the 13th century and the south porch carved with Norman motifs added in the 15th century. The curious unique tower at the west end of the church has a round base that is mounted with the hexagonal top. Inside the church is a small brass memorial tablet dated 1407 which can be found in the nave, and a Norman font set upon a four-legged base. The church is no longer used for regular worship and is in the care of the Churches Conservation Trust.


Holy Trinity Church, LoddonView in OS Map | View in Google Map

Legend states there has been a church on the site of Holy Trinity since 630AD which was built by St Felix, Bishop of East Anglia. The present building dates from 1490 and was built by Sir James Hobart who lived at Hales Hall, and was Attorney General to King Henry VII. This flint faced building contains a hammerbeam roof, Jacobean pulpit, early Edwardian pews with carved poppy-head ends, several table-top tombs, an ancient poor-box and a panel on the painted rood screen which shows William of Norwich, a boy martyr who is reputed to have been crucified in the 12th century. There is also a medieval baptismal font, though the original carved and painted stonework was defaced by Cromwell's forces during the 1600's.


Reedham Chain FerryView in OS Map | View in Google Map

There has been a crossing of the River Yare at Reedham since the early 17th Century and the current owners, the Archers, began their ferry operations three generations ago in 1949 when the chain ferry used a hand-wound mechanism. A motorised version was introduced in 1950 and the current chain ferry, which can carry three vehicles, dates from 1984 and was designed and built at Oulton Broad by the late Fred Newson and the present owner. This is the only crossing between Norwich and Great Yarmouth and saves a road journey of more than 30 miles. The Ferry operates throughout all seasons, starting at 7.30am with the end ferry at 10pm.

Reedham Chain Ferry
Reedham Chain Ferry


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

Click on an image below to view the Image Gallery


Below is the route depicted on the OpenStreetMap, Ordnance Survey Map and Google Map. Links to full page versions are found in the Essential Information

Summary of Document Changes

Last Updated: ... 2016-01-16

2012-11-25 : Add in details of The Cockatrice old pub at Norton Staithe


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