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Diss to the source of the River Waveney and return

Walked by Sally and Richard, 2nd July 2011
Approximately 15 miles - 7.4 miles along the Angles Way and return
We'd been hoping to walk from Earsham to Diss this weekend, with an overnight stay in Harleston, but we couldn't get accommodation so decided just to walk on Saturday and to continue our progress back from the end of the path. It was a warm sunny day, actually slightly too warm for walking, so probably just as well we hadn't tried the double leg. We parked in  a well-placed car park, on the A1066 right by the Mere in Diss (£3 for the day's parkiing). The Mere is thought to have formed following a collapse (possibly glacial) of the underlying chalk. It's very pretty.

The route of the Angles Way out of Diss varies depending on whether you look at old map, new map, the Ramblers' Association Guidebook, or the signposting on the ground.  We opted for the Ramblers' Association route (indeed the guidebook was useful on several occasions today - the path wasn't quite as well signposted as previously) and would recommend this - follow the A1066 for  a short distance, cross a roundabout then turn left into Denmark Street. This brings you to Fair Green (more parking here - and it's free). Take the right-hand track across the Green, which leads into Tottington Lane. Keep going straight ahead (joined by what appears to be the modern 'official' route) and eventually bear left along a lane marked 'Royden Fen (cul-de-sac)'. It's a pretty little lane, with cottages on one side and the fen on the other (if Richard appears to be walking the 'wrong way' in the photograph, that's because we took it on our return leg).

At the end of the lane, we skirted round a cottage, went through a copse and emerged onto fields grazed by horses, with the round-towered Roydon Church quite close to us on the right-hand side. After crossing several fields we went over a stile onto the strangely named Doit Lane. We turned left and followed the lane across a  bridge (so into Suffolk) to Wortham Ling. We crossed the Ling (the path officially follows the road, but there's no need to do that) to a small settlement. Here we took an overgrown path by a thatched cottage and then passed another thatched cottage which appeared to be in the middle of nowhere - it took us a while to work out whether they had vehicular access (I think they do, by way of a track across Wortham Ling). We followed a field edge, close to woodland, and crossed three slightlly overgrown (and so difficult to cross) stiles, each alongside a gate. We then cut across a field to Wortham Church. What an amazing place! It's got the largest round tower in the country (now collapsed), which may been built as a watch tower before the 12th Century nave was added - though apparently the most recent evidence points towards them being the same age.

We crossed fields of cereal crops, with the occasional sound of a steam train from nearby Bressingham. Then we walked along a (very) minor road, and turned right past Woodhouse Farm, spoilt slightly by the presence of yappy dogs. Then across more fields (one with a poppies round the margins on our outward journey, but they had been cut by the time we returned!) to Dashes Farm and another very minor road to Dashes Cottages. There were children playing in one of the gardens - what an idyllic place to live.

Just past Dashes Cottages we took another overgrown path down to and across the infant River Waveney. We turned left and followed the river for half a mile or so. We were walking on a path of mown grass, with the river occasionally visible through reads to our left, and we had butterflies and dragonflies for company. The river is surprisingly wide at this point, given you are within a mile or so of its source (presumably because it drains from fen) but it is  extremely slow-moving (presumably because of the low gradient, remembering that the river  is flowing in the valley formed by the Little Ouse before the most recent glacial retreat). I suppose that you could sum this up by saying that the Waveney is itself more like part of the fen than a river between here and its source.

We crossed back over the river and then walked around the edge of Redgrave and Lopham Fen, through extremely attractive woodland. We didn't see much standing water, presumably because this is hidden by reads, but we did see the Polish Konik ponies grazing, both by the path and out on the fen. For completeness, we left the nature reserve and walked along the road for a short distance to the B1113, to join up with the point we'd reached on 12th June.

As we re-entered the Redgrave and Lopham Fen nature reserve at the beginning of our walk back to Diss, we noticed water in the distance, probably the same stretch that we'd noticed from the B1113 on 12th June, right at the point on the map where the source of the Waveney is marked. We'd had the outward path just about to ourselves (and the fact that it was overgrown in places indicates that it is not much walked) but there were more people about on the return leg, including a group of walkers who we met several times (we were walking more quickly than them, but they took the direct route from Dashes Farm to Wortham Ling). Fortunately no-one was sitting on the one bench we'd noticed, so we had our lunch here, overlooking Redgrave Fen. We also stopped to look inside Wortham Church and back in Diss we had a welcome cup of tea at Diss Publishing Bookshop, sitting outside overlooking the Mere, before setting off for the drive home. It had been a lovely walk in new territory for us, despite the fact that Diss is only an hour's drive from home.

Following leg of Angles Way