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

Saturday, 29 December 2018

Boudicca Way - Norwich to Shotesham

Shotesham Common

A 12 mile walk roughly following Norfolk's Boudicca Way

This walk uses the Boudicca Way to navigate from Norwich to Shotesham, with an excursion away from the official route to the ruins of the Roman town Venta Icenorum. Shotesham forms the furtherest reaches of the Boudicca Way on this route, from where country lanes cuts across country to the A140 where there is a frequent bus service back into Norwich.

Boudicca Way - Norwich to Shotesham - Essential Information

Walk Statistics:

Start point
Norwich View in OS Map | View in Google Map
End Point
Swainsthorpe View in OS Map | View in Google Map
Total Walk distance
12 miles
Walk difficulty
Footpaths and country lanes
The main A140 is a pig to cross to get to the bus stop


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)


Details of public transport that is required for the walk

First Group - Bus Service
Service Details
38 - First Group Norwich buses Purple Line route linking Norwich and Long Stratton

Walk Data

Date of Walk
Walk Time
10:30 to 15:30
Griffmonster, Paul H
Weather Conditions
Starting grey but with increasing brightness

Walk Notes

The Boudicca Way is a 36 mile path that links Norwich and Diss. This little ramble forms the first section and provides a convenient route across to the A140 where there is a regular bus service to return to the start. The route can be extended down to Tasburgh but with the limited light of a winters day, this would have been pushing things before the light died. The Boudicca Way does have an extension down to the ruins of the Roman town of Venta Icenorum but this walk provides a linear route incorporating the ruins that does not require backtracking along the same route.

The walk starts with a urban wander out of Norwich. This city has greatly expanded in recent decades and looks like enveloping even more ancient Norfolk villages in its ever increasing plunder of the surrounding countryside. Fortunately the expansion has been stifled on the southern side of the city by the River Yare. The route follows the road straight down Brackendale hill into the village of Trowse on what used to be the main road to Lowestoft. Trowse, these days, is cut off as a through route by what is locally known as the A47 Southern Bypass, a modern highway that skirts the southern side of the city that was completed in 1992, ploughing its course across the landscape regardless of what stood before it. Modern transportation has a lot to answer for in my humble opinion. Gone also is the village station and the old water mill, one of the largest in Norfolk, which has now been redeveloped as luxury homes. Progress marches on but one must remember that Trowse itself was the result of progress having been created by the Coleman company, famous for its Mustard, to house its employees in the 19th century. The name of Trowse is interesting in the fact that it is said to have been derived from the word trouse which describes the gate that is raised to allow waters out from a dam, an item which was once located upstream from the mill in order to to feed the mill race. Such devices went up and down in a similar manner to a pair of leggings and, so some say, this is where the word trousers is allegedly derived from. Can you ever walk through Trowse again without thinking of trousers going up and down. I know I will never be able to.

The walk cuts across the meadow land around the River Yare, the noise of the traffic never far away. I have to admit the traffic through Norwich in the 80's before the southern bypass was built, was horrendous and always a deterrent from heading towards Yarmouth. However, the old adage that a newly built road soon fills up because it is there does appear true. After passing over the A47 and following the Boudicca Way cross country past a large chalk pit, it is time to part with the official path and head down to Caister St Edmund and the Roman Town of Venta Icenorum. This requires a little road walking but this is only a country lane and what little traffic trundles along it is at a Norfolk pace.

Venta Icenorum has the meaning of the place of the Iceni, a reference to the Britannic tribe from pre Roman times that had many conflicts with the Romans after their conquest of Britain. Boudicca was a queen of the Iceni and led an uprising against the Romans that resulted in her death sometime around AD 60. This is obviously fitting for this trail, although there is no suggestion that the battle was even in East Anglia, let alone Caistor St Edmund.

All that is left at Venta Icenorum are the remains of the outer walls. Back in the day there was baths, a forum, temples and even an amphitheatre. This was no mere fort but a whole thriving community that lies beneath the present day sod that covers the area. One can stand and wonder what the scene may have looked like some 2000 years ago, a bustling and thriving town. A church sits just within the ruined walls but this is certainly not Roman and dates some centuries after the Roman occupation. However there are suggestions that it may have been built on a former place of worship which could have dated back to Roman times.

From the ruins there is some more road walking, once again country lanes. This navigates up through Upper Stoke continuing onwards to Abbotts Farm. Just prior to this, on the right is Blackford Hall, nowadays this is two private houses but once was the site of a moated mansion known as Stoke Holy Cross Manor.

The route now cuts across country to Shotesham All Saints whose church dates from around 1000AD when it replaced an earlier church. The village also boasts a pub. Sadly it was a Monday, and like a lot of pubs across the country on Mondays, this one closed. We sat on the benches in front of the pub when the landlady came out. She was not going to open for our sake but did allow us to sit there and eat our sandwiches, chew on our crisps and drink our water all within vision of the Adnams Southwold Bitter pump! Such a tease.

Once again we depart from the official Boudicca way and cut across country lanes to the A140. This starts off with a wander across the ancient Shotesham Common, passing over a ford via a small footbridge. This area does have a feel of being a very old landscape. Country lanes are then followed down to Shotisham Mill, a magnificent area with a large mill pond that flows out across a broad ford with a series of footways to allow pedestrians passage across the waters. Cars get across the ford but it looks a distinctly dubious task to undertake and I am sure there has been many a motorist left stranded after heavy rains. Unfortunately the 18th century mill is long gone, having been demolished in 1949 after is was badly damaged by flood water. This is most unfortunate as it was described as The little gem of Norfolk scenery

Shotesham mill pond
Shotesham mill pond


The route roughly follows the Boudicca Way with extensions to Venta Icenorum and Shotesham Mill

From Norwich bus station, leave via the steps onto Queens road, turn left and follow the road ignoring all turn offs. After half a mile the road starts to descend down Bracendale. Keep on the left side of the road. Go straight over at the junction with the traffic lights then continue straight ahead at the roundabout. Proceed over the railway bridge and continue in Trowse village. At the church bear to the right. Soon after, on the right is a park area. Diagonally cut across this to join the road follows the perimeter. Keep to this road, under the flyover and then beyond the substation. There is a footpath waymarker on the right to cut across the meadow which emerges onto Stoke Road. Turn left and follow the road to the bridge over the A47 dual carriageway. Immediately after take the turning on the left then follow the footpath sign on the right. This leads across the fields and the skirts around a chalk pit bordered with trees. Follow the path until it turns left along a field boundary. This is where we diverge from the official route and instead turn right and follow a footpath down to the road. Turn left onto the road and follow this through Caister St Edmund. As the road bears round to the left, the ruins of Venta Icenorum are on the right.

Leave the ruins by the church where there is a small car park. Cross the road and once again the route joins the Boudicca Way. Turn left at the first junction and continue up the road for 1.3 miles. There is a sharp bend to the right and the road meets the Upper Stoke crossroads. go straight ahead and continue for 1 mile until Abbotts Farm is on the right. Take the track through the farm and follow this around a double bend. Take the left where another track leads across the fields. This emerges onto a track known as Naidens Lane. Turn right and follow this down to the road. Turn left to vist Shotesham All Saints. The pub is on the left and the church straight ahead.

Return back the way one came into the village and at the first junction turn left. Keep straight ahead following the lead of the road. A junction comes in fromt he left, then the road bends around to the right and meets another road. Continue straight ahead. At the first junction bear round to the left. At the next junction turn left then take the road immediately on the right. At the next junction turn right and this road takes one down to Shotesham Mill and the broad ford. There is a walkway across the river and the road rises out of the valley and up to the A140. Turn right and continue along the road. On the right will be the Sugar Beet pub and just beyond is the bus stop. Note that this is a very busy throughfare and care should be taken in crossing this.

Remaining wall of Venta Icenorum
Remaining wall of Venta Icenorum


The Globe, Shotesham All Saints View in OS Map | View in Google Map

Image of pub
The Street, Shotesham All Saints
01508 550475

It is uncertain when this village pub dates from although records do show a landlord in 1836. There is an interesting story on the Norfolk Pubs website which is worth reiterating. The story, dated as 30th November 1866, concerns a court case involving a Isaac Abbs, the landlord of the globe, who was owed money for drinks accrued by local plumber George Boyce. This man acknowledgedly drank between two and 21 glasses of ale and porter a day, drank until he was drunk and would also pay other drinkers to keep him company. Abbs accused the man as being a regular drunk which he refuted, stating that there were many times that he had been sober. When requested to name such a day he specifically stated 17th October.

The pub has two rooms, beams, has a garden and serves food. It has one regular ale which is Adnams Southwold. it does not open on Monday lunchtimes.


The pub is closed on Monday lunchtimes and as fate would have it, this walk was undertaken on a Monday. The landlady, however allowed us to sit on the pub benches and eat our sandwiches whilst being teased by the sight of the beer pub through the window.

Sugar Beat Eating House, Swainsthorpe View in OS Map | View in Google Map

Image of pub
Norwich Road, Swainsthorpe
01508 471611

16th century pub formerly known as the Dun Cow with a brief flirtation with the name of The Wig and Dickle in the early 1990s. In 2014 it was completely renovated and opened as the Sugar Beat Eating House which is primarily focused on food although still retains a traditional bar area.


This is without a doubt a food venue although the staff had no aversion to us just having a pint of beer. The brew was Lacons and this is a brewery that I rate very highly.

Communications mass at Tacolneston
Communications mass at Tacolneston


NaidensView in OS Map | View in Google Map

The track that leads down into the northern side of the village of Shotesham All Saints is commonly known as Naidens Lane and this also provides the name to the cottage at the end of the track, a plain and simple Naidens Cottage. This timber framed house was once three separate cottages and dates back to the early 16th century so is a piece of history in this landscape.

On the Ordnance Survey maps from the late 19th century it is obvious that the lane was then called Maidens Lane, and this is attested by the Shotesham website where they offer two alternative theories as to its derivation. The obvious explanation is that it was an alternative name for a Lovers Lane whereas a more obscure idea is that the maidens of the village partook their Sunday stroll along the track after church. Even as late as 1946 it was still being depicted as Maidens Lane on OS maps so this suggests that Naidens is very much a modern name. It is therefore a bit of a mystery as to why the cottage has taken on this name and what it was known as prior to modern times. It does appear curious that both a thoroughfare and a cottage changed names. Could it just be a mapping misrepresentation, a presumption that it was called Maidens? Perhaps not. In the 1841 register of electors it records a Maye Hubbard living at Meidens Lane. So was this a spelling mistake?

Whatever the derivation of this lanes name, there is reputedly a ghostly figure that wanders it, said to be seen close to the clay pits although the tale provides nothing in relation to the location of the said clay pits which are clearly no longer there. One would assume these must have been marl pits which have since been filled back in.

Shotesham All Saints
Shotesham All Saints


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: 2018-12-29

2017-11-19 : Initial publication
2018-12-29 : General website updates


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