Walked by Sally and Richard, Monday 8th November 2010
About 10 miles of walking, 9 miles on Angles Way
We finished walking the Weavers’ Way
more than a month ago and I was keen to start the Angles Way. However tutorial visiting and other commitments meant that Saturdays were in short supply and the bus that we wanted to use to link the end of our first leg (Fritton) back to the beginning (Great Yarmouth) doesn’t run on Sundays. It was around the time that I decided to take a Monday off that the weather forecast decided to turn truly dreadful! However we decided to head east on 8th November whatever the weather (if it had been too bad we would have headed to Lowestoft for family history research) and although it was cold and windy, the rain held off until we were within sight of the car – and then chucked it down for the drive home! So we were very lucky, and we had an extremely enjoyable first day on the path. There were a few dog walkers about, but most of the time we had the path to ourselves.
We knew it would start to get dark around 4pm, so we made an early start, leaving home around 7.30am. We drove along the route that had become very familiar from the latter stages of the Weavers’ Way - along the A47 past Norwich to Acle. Today we continued on the A47 across the marshes towards Great Yarmouth, but we turned right on the A12 rather than going into the town centre. This took us across Breydon Bridge, then we turned right along the A143 to Fritton and right again to the car park on New Road (467007). The drive was slow - we got snarled up in rush hour traffic (the disadvantage of walking on a weekday) both on the approach to Norwich and the approach to Great Yarmouth. However the advantage of a weekday was that buses run every half hour or so until 10.30am, so it didn’t really matter.
We walked back to the bus stop by the Decoy Tavern on the busy A143, and had a quick look around, walking through the village to the point at which the Angles Walk turns south away from the A143 (the next leg). The bus would usually be the 581, but we caught the one 577 of the day, timetabled for 10.01 at Fritton and a few minutes late. The journey back to Great Yarmouth was slow too, as we meandered our way through Belton and the industrial outskirts of Yarmouth, past the docks in Southtown and around Tesco, being amused by the conversation between the driver and the elderly passengers, who clearly knew each other well.
We got off the bus on Hall Quay (by the town hall) and crossed Haven Bridge (Yarmouth’s older lifting bridge, built in 1930, which I remember we saw opening on our way to Pleasurewood Hills when the children were small). Since we had walked from the Three Ways Meeting Point at the end of the Weavers’ Way, and the Vauxhall Footbridge is closed in any case, we designated Haven Bridge the official Jordan starting point of the Angles Way. There’s a good view back to South Quay.
We turned right down Steam Mill Road then through a cut-through to Crittens Road. It’s a depressing area of town and the signposting isn’t great – and the boatyard which the guide says you pass is now closed. But it would be difficult to get completely lost since you are simply staying as close as possible to the waterfront and passing underneath the landmark of Breydon Bridge, Great Yarmouth’s modern lifting bridge (completed 1986).
From here you follow the southern shore of Breydon Water for several miles. It was high tide, cold and windy, which made it feel very atmospheric. The sun came out from time to time and the threatening clouds never delivered their content onto us. There were views across the water to the windmills we had passed on the northern shore (on the final leg of the Weavers’ Way) but no boats this time. The were also attractive views across the marshes, and back to towards Great Yarmouth (including the giant cranes at the outer port, which, it has been announced this week, is to close as a container port before it has opened!).
Berney Arms Mill was visible in the distance for a long time and eventually the shoreline we were following turned sharply to the left (note: the guidebook describes this as a right-hand turn!) and we could at last see the confluence of the rivers Waverney and Yare, with Berney Arms Mill on the opposite side of the Yare. We climbed uphill to Burgh Castle Church, then followed a path to the left of the Church along to the Roman Fort (owned by English Heritage, but open to the public all the time and free).
We stopped for lunch at a conveniently placed bench overlooking Burgh Castle Fort. Three of the stone sides of the fort remain, in remarkably good condition considering its age. In Roman times Burgh Castle was by the coast and, with another fort in Caister, guarded the great bay of Gariensis. There are now good views over the marshes.
We descended to the river bank and turned left to a pub, modern boatyard and harbour at Fisherman’s Rest. The path skirted the boatyard (complete with lifeboat, presumably here for repairs) and harbour, then followed the River Waveney briefly before turning inland again by a small pumping station and up to the village of Belton. We walked past rather boring houses for around ¾ mile, then turned right down Sandy Lane (more upmarket!). Past a little carpark, Sandy Lane turned to the right, became an attractive wooded track and climbed. We followed the track past the back-end of the ‘golfing community’ of Caldecott Hall, with golf course to our left and right. Eventually we turned down a footpath to our left which took us past the Redwings Shelter (closed for the winter). There was some more confusion of left and right from the guidebook, but the route was obvious and we emerged back onto the A143, by a garden centre, between the entrance to Caldecott Hall and the entrance to Fritton Country Park.
We crossed the road and walked a short distance to our right, then down the main drive of Fritton Country Park - forget the kissing gate described in the guidebook, but I’d agree with the guidebook that Fritton Church (clearly visible in front of us) is ‘one of the finest surviving Saxon churches in England'. It has a thatched roof and a pretty little apse (semicircular recess).
We walked through the village of Fritton, with views to Fritton Lake to our left, and turned right down New Lane to return to the car, the rain starting just as we reached the car park.Following leg of path