Walk: Wreningham and Ashwellthorpe woods
PUBLISHED: 10:39 31 January 2017 | UPDATED: 10:42 31 January 2017
Take a winter wander through two lovely woods at Wreningham and Ashwellthorpe with Peter James of Norfolk Ramblers
Distance: 5 miles or 3.75 miles
Start: Start at Long’s Wood car park TM148 990 NR16 1AT
Parking: The car park is on Wymondham Road. From the village take the road opposite the school, follow it, passing over the old railway bridge. Parking is around the corner on the right.
1. Leave the car park. Returning to the road, turn left, following the road to the corner. Take the track to the right (Old Rectory Lane) and pass through the enclosed path. Follow the field edge round to the left and you will come to a bridge and gate. Cross the field to a small wooded section and at the track turn right then left. Following the path to a bridge on your left, cross the bridge, turn right, follow the path to the corner of the woods. Turn left at the end of woods, turn right to the bridge, cross, then turn right to the next bridge. To your right is the entrance to Lower Wood; turn left, following the path to the road .
2. At this point you can take the shorter walk by turning left and following the pavement to the church (3). For the longer walk turn right; after 140 metres cross the road to the track between houses. At the end of the hedge turn right then left; at the junction of paths turn left then at the end turn right, following to a gap in the hedge. Turn left to a track, turn right then left, following the path to hedge. Turn right at the bottom of the field, pass through the gap turning left, then left following on the opposite side of the hedge you have just walked down. Follow to the road turn, cross road turning left; this will bring you to the church.
3. Enter the churchyard, taking the path to the right of the church. Cross the bridge; through the gap in the hedge at the field edge turn right, following the field edge permissive path. This will bring you to a track; by the paddocks turn right and follow to the stables. Pass through to the main drive leading out to the road. Turn left, follow the road to pass the school. At Wymondham Road turn left and after just over 300 metres take the path to the right between the houses. Follow to cross the bridge, turn left to the woods, follow paths through the woods. At this point you turn back on yourself - you can take the path above the old railway to the steps down then back up on your right, or follow the old railway. Taking the steps to the right, at the top turn left then right; this will bring you back to the car park.
Points of Interest
A. Longs Wood is a private wood with public access. It straddles both sides of the old railway and is crossed by public footpaths.
B. Norfolk Wildlife Trust Lower Wood, Ashwellthorpe, is a medium-sized ancient woodland which was recorded in the Domesday Book.
More recently, coppicing – a traditional form of woodland management that encourages growth by repeatedly cutting back young stems to near ground level – has been carried out extensively here. Bluebells carpet the understory in spring and wild garlic is also common. Other plants include wood anemone and wood spurge, the forebear of the Euphorbia perennials found in many gardens. NWT celebrates its 90th anniversary this year.
C. The church probably dates from the 13th century and consists of a square tower with quatrefoil sound holes, heavy buttresses and chequer work battlements .
There is a perpendicular porch with an 18th century Dutch gable and a holy water stoup with an ogee canopy.
There is priest’s chamber over the porch which is reached by a stone staircase.
The nave is perpendicular (very high for its length) with a chancel and side chapel.
The gem in this church is the alabaster tomb of Sir Edmund de Thorp and his wife Joan, which lies between the chancel and the side chapel. Sir Edmund was slain at the siege of Louviers castle in Normandy in 1417 fighting with Henry V. His body was brought back home from the battlefield to be buried in the chapel which Sir Edmund built for his own burial place and that of his successors. The church underwent major internal work in the 1990s when the rotting pews were removed and replaced with upholstered chairs. A brickwork floor was installed and stalls made in the chancel behind the replaced screen. An interesting feature of the church is its lower level chancel.