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Thursday, 4 April 2019

The Poppy Line - Holt to Sheringham

Steam engine heading to Weybourne

A 6.5 mile walk following the Poppy Heritage Steam Railway Line between Holt and Sheringham

An easy ramble roughly following the Poppy Line from Holt to Sheringham. The varied landscape that this route navigated is heathland, woodland and coast with the ever present steam railway always in range either audibly or physically. A great way to see the engines in full steam with a return being hauled back on this iconic railway. The best place to watch the engines close up is the level crossing on Kelling Heath where the steam engines require a full head of steam to get their loads up the incline from Weybourne.

NOTE

This is a walk summary intended to provide the user with just the essential information in order to navigate the walk route. Fully detailed information notes, refreshment stops and walk features are not included in this. A full write up will be included in the near future.

The Poppy Line - Holt to Sheringham - Essential Information

Walk Statistics:

Start point
Holt View in OS Map | View in Google Map
End Point
Sheringham View in OS Map | View in Google Map
Total Walk distance
6.5 miles
Walk difficulty
Easy
Terrain
Footpaths, tracks and permissive paths
Obstacles
The route crosses the main coast road. This can be very busy, particularly during holiday periods. Caution should be taken in crossing this

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:

Cromer House Bed and Breakfast View in OS Map | View in Google Map
Website
Description
Just 50m from the sea front with its lovely sandy beach, we are an easy stroll away from the Pier and Town Centre with its many bars, restaurants, shops and other amenities. The comfortable rooms, Good Food Welcoming atmosphere This all adds up to a relaxing stay at Cromer House

Walk Data

Date of Walk
2017-04-22
Walk Time
09:00 to 13:00
Walkers
Griffmonster, Kat
Weather Conditions
Blustery day with some sunshine

Walk Notes

The railway line from Holt to Sheringham was constructed in 1887 and survived until Dr Beeching's scathing cuts to the British railway system in 1964. Even at this early stage plans were already afoot to create a preserved railway and with the acquisition of the trackbed from Weybourne to Sheringham in 1967 that ambition took a huge leap forward. It wasn't until 1975 that passenger trains began working the line again and with the acquisition of the route through to Holt a full passenger service began working in 1989.

Since these early days the North Norfolk Railway has gone from strength to strength with the reopening of the railway crossing at Sheringham in 2010, regular events such as steam galas, diesel galas, Dads army re-enactments and the hugely popular 40s weekend which overflows into the towns of Sheringham and Holt with all townsfolk joining the reliving of a time when the nation was brought together under a common cause.

A train journey on this line is a must for any new visitor to the area or the avid railway enthusiast who wants to boast of being hauled by an iconic guest locomotive. To capture the full glory of these beasts one really needs to both travel on them and view them in full steam hissing and puffing up the inclines from coast to heath. This is where this walk provides just that scene, tracing the route of the line back from Holt to Sheringham.

The first part of this walk from Holt Station diverges from the railway as unfortunately there is no path that keeps close to the route of the track. This therefore entails a short distance along the main road where, just before the path meets the road, in the garden of the house just before the shop is an old railway carriage, fully restored as a studio shed. The adjacent bungalow is aptly named The Old Railway Carriage and this is the base of artist Chris White. Soon after this little discovery, the route leads away from the main road then turns right onto a track known as Warren Road that leads down to Kelling Warren. The trains can be heard from this long straight lane, thundering through the distant woodland with trails of steam rising above the trees.

At the edge of the Kelling Warren there is a path on the left that leads down to a railway crossing and this presents the ideal opportunity to get photos of the trains in full steam heading up the tough 1 in 80 gradient of Kelling bank from Weybourne below. On gala days this location is abundant in railway enthusiasts, inquisitive walkers all armed with cameras, telephoto lenses and tripods of all sizes and shapes. Despite the popularity of this position, there is always room for one more face peering over the fence in anticipation of the next train heading to Holt.

The vantage point at Kelling Heath crossing where trains haul their loads up the Kelling Bank
The vantage point at Kelling Heath crossing where trains haul their loads up the Kelling Bank

The path now follows close to the route of the railway, which initially is hidden in the cutting some 40 feet below as the path heads up the hill. There is a short steep descent and ramble through the woodland to Kelling Halt station. An amazing panorama is beheld here with clear views from Weybourne village with its distinctive windmill round to Sheringham and the blue sea providing a fitting backdrop to such an idyllic scene.

A short walk leads past a small lake and ones attention is drawn away from the railway to this tranquil scene where the calm waters present themselves amid the hills and trees. It is known as the Bottom Pond or the Fishing Pond and there are five platforms for the avid angler to try their game in this well stocked water.

Continuing along the path as it follows the track, one comes to a large gulley where the springs issue to form Spring Beck, a watercourse that trickles down the hills to seep into the sea at Weybourne Hope. The path then follows around a domestic house with large lawns to the left and an embankment to the right. Above this embankment once stood the Weybourne Springs Hotel, an impressive construction with turreted columns. This residence was constructed in 1902 and forced the railway to accommodate it with building of Weybourne station where the rich and weatlhy could alight and spend time in the idyllic settings with views across the coast.

Unfortunately trade was not forthcoming and the hotel eventually became a home for the physically handicapped. This lasted until the start of WWII when the building came to the end of its days. It depends on who one speaks to as to how its met its end. Popular folklore states that it was blown up as it stood as a landmark to invasion forces out at sea. Probably a more true account is that the foundations to the building had become unstable in the soft sandy soils and the hotel was purposely demolished to prevent a catostrophic collapse.

Weybourne Springs where there are trackside views of trains heading out of Weybourne stations
Weybourne Springs where there are trackside views of trains heading out of Weybourne stations

Crossing the road there is a permissive path that runs alongside the station platform with access into the station and across the bridge. This provides a welcome refreshment point with a small cafe where one can purchase teas and coffees and then sit and watch the trains go by.

Continuing along the permissive path, the route diverges from the railway line to follow a course alongside the perimeter of Weybourne Wood and then around Cracking Hill to the entrance into Sheringham Park where one takes a left turn to follow the path alongside Oak Wood. Look out for the Gazebo, hidden away in the woodland but publicly accessible. The Gazebo is a viewing tower on the summit of a hill that reaches above the treetops and provides some amazing coastal views. It is quite an effort to climb, firstly following the steps up the hill to the foot of the gazebo and then climbing the six flights of stairs that are mounted around the metal tower to the platform at the top. It is well worth the exertion.

Beyond the Gazebo, as the path turns, there is a brick pillbox with a soldier lurking in a window and surveying the landscape through a pair of eyeglasses. Its a nice touch.

The path emerges onto the road where one needs to cross over to the opposite side and follow the path along the field side and onto the track down to the coast. This crosses over the railway with the line in a cutting and a brick bridge with a parapet that provides easy viewing of the line on both sides. This is a great location to watch the engines as they heave themselves out of Sheringham and up to Weybourne with a full head of steam. Acknowledgement of any spotters is usually rewarded with a bloast on the whistle and then steam exudes on either side of the bridge with the distinctive smell of steam engine covering ones face.

View from bridge crossing on the track to the coast
View from bridge crossing on the track to the coast

The final section of the walk follows the coast with a challenging climb over Skelding Hill and down into Sheringham. The line is in view for most of this section providing a view of a full train amidst the backdrop of the hills above.

Summary of Document Changes

Last Updated: 2019-04-04

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