Walkers up for a challenge are able to cross the entire length of Norfolk by foot, from port to port – Great Yarmouth to King’s Lynn – thanks to the Wensum Way
As part of the Norfolk Trails series, which traverses 1,200 miles of diverse and tranquil Norfolk countryside, the new 12-mile pathway has unlocked a landscape rarely trodden by the public. As well as this, the council have created a new website – www.norfolk.gov.uk/trails – where you can explore interactive maps, searching for any walk in Norfolk by length; time required, historical features, wildlife hotspots or location, as well as being able to download a print-friendly map of your chosen walk.
Keen explorers of all ages with access to a smartphone and GPS can also take part in the Norfolk Trails geocaching trail, a 21st century treasure hunt for all the family, finding containers (or caches) hidden along the Nar Valley Way between Castle Acre and West Acre. Visit www.geocaching.com for more information.
Connecting the Nar Valley Way at Gressenhall to the Marriott’s Way at Lenwade, the Wensum Way benefits from the high standard of surfaces, signposting and furniture seen across the UK’s prestigious National Trails.
Passing through the rolling Mid-Norfolk landscape, the trail passes under peaceful and vast open skies, skirting alongside the River Wensum for much of its journey. The
river, named after the Anglo Saxon word for ‘winding’, is a designated Special Area of Conservation (SAC) and Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and hosts a diverse array of rare and beautiful wildlife.
Anyone with a love of nature and the great outdoors will be spoilt for choice by the nearby 26 county wildlife areas and four Sites of Special Scientific Interest. Spot wading birds and waterfowl at one of these, Sparham Pools, the flooded former gravel pits north of the River Wensum that now serves as a Norfolk Wildlife Trust nature conservation area.
You’re guaranteed to see something new on each visit. As an area of great natural significance, the river valley is home to over 270 species, from plants, butterflies and moths, to otters, water voles and eight types of bat. Keen-eyed bird watchers can glimpse bitterns, the elusive marsh harrier and many more!
Not just a hotspot for protected wildlife, the Wensum valley is also rich in historical and archaeological sites. Explore Norfolk’s heritage at Gressenhall Farm and Workhouse, an outstanding rural life museum and working farm built as a ‘house of industry’ in response to the 19th century Poor Law Reform Acts.
History abounds at the picturesque village of Elsing, which is notable for Elsing Hall, St. Mary’s Church, the Rectory and the Guildhall, all exuding the village’s history, with buildings dating from the 1500s. You’ll also find evidence of watermills along the river, a vital part of Norfolk’s working past – spot two at Elsing and Lenwade, with traces of others along the way.
Wensum Way is proud to promote and support green tourism and aims, when applicable, for cars to be left at home. Supported by good transport links, all of Wensum Way’s main sites are connected by regular bus services between Norwich, Dereham, Swaffham and King’s Lynn, with a local bus service connecting the smaller villages.