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Norfolk walk: 6.5 mile Castle Acre ramble

PUBLISHED: 10:48 02 July 2018 | UPDATED: 10:48 02 July 2018

Castle Acre Priory (photo: Steven Asker, citizenside.com)

Castle Acre Priory (photo: Steven Asker, citizenside.com)

(c) copyright citizenside.com

We’re out for a beautiful walk around one of the county’s most historic sites with Norfolk Ramblers

1. From the car park follow the hedge down on the grass to the bottom; turn right, pass through the gap in the hedge at the road turn left, then right on to Blind Lane. This is part of the Peddars Way long distance path. At the end turn left – on your left are good views of the priory – follow the road round, crossing the bridge at the ford, turn right at the fingerpost leaving the Peddars Way you will pass South Acre Church on the left.

2. Turn left onto Petticoat Drove. Beside South Acre Hall follow the track to a junction of tracks with a pond on the right. Turn right at the marker post, follow the track. Crossing the first track you will come to a large oak tree with a marker post; turn right here follow it down; at the road take the path straight on. This will bring you to the Nar Valley Way.

River Nar River Nar

3. Turn right – this part is on access land so you are free to follow any path if following the track. At the marker post bear left to the road, follow the marker post, cross the bridge over the river. The section between the bridges can be very wet after rain; we hope to fund a boardwalk for this section in the near future. Follow the boardwalk, taking the path through the woods, pass through the gate on to Castle Acre Common which is an SSSI. Go through the gate on to Common Road; at the tarmac road turn right then left. At the entrance to the priory turn left, following the road along the high street, passing the 13th century bailey gate at the corner. Follow the road past the village hall back to the start.

Points of interest

A. The castle was founded soon after the Norman conquest of 1066 by William de Warenne and was initially a stone ‘country house’. During the first half of the 12th-century, however, more disturbed conditions prompted its progressive conversion into a strong keep, further defended by stone walls and an immense system of ditched earthworks.

Map of the walk Map of the walk

Still impressively visible, these are perhaps the finest village earthworks in England.

Free entry, open all year.

B. Castle Acre Priory was inspired by the monastery at Cluny in France and was home to a community of monks until 1537, when Henry VIII disbanded all monastic houses. The priory’s ruins span seven centuries and include a beautiful 12th-century church with an elaborately decorated west front, still rising to its full height, a 15th-century gatehouse and a porch, and prior’s lodging still fit to live in.

The recreated herb garden situated next to the visitor centre grows herbs that the monks would have used for medicinal, strewing, culinary and decorative purposes.

Visit english-heritage.org.uk for opening times and prices.

C. Peddars Way follows a Roman road built along the line of an even older trackway. The name, Peddars Way, is said to be derived from the Latin ‘pedester’, which means ‘on foot’. The trail starts in the Brecks, a unique area of forest, heath and low river valleys, running north from Knettishall Heath in Suffolk, for 46 miles through changing countryside to the north Norfolk coast near Hunstanton.

D. Nar Valley Way is a 33-mile-long walking trail meandering through contrasting landscapes between the medieval town of King’s Lynn and the Farm and Workhouse museum 
in Gressenhall.

The route follows quiet tracks and lanes, crossing farmland and passing through woods, meadows and commons. The River Nar is never far away, with long stretches of riverside path 
to enjoy.

Open farmland around Mileham contrasts with the expansive lowland panoramas near King’s Lynn, and the intimate woodland glades found at West Acre and Narborough.

Get rambling

Norfolk Ramblers welcomes new members. If you are interested in walking in the company of like-minded people, visit norfolkra.org.uk or call 07505426750. For queries about this walk, phone 07905565740.

Norfolk Ramblers has established a footpath working group to do some path cutting and general maintenance. We try to make sure that all the paths in these walks are fit to walk, but if you encounter a problem please tell us.

Contact Peter James at pdjames.ramb@ntlworld.com; 07905565740

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