About 9 miles
Walked by Sally and Richard with Kate and Rob Gordon, 31st May 2009
We'd been due to go to Kate and Rob's for lunch today, but Kate had rung yesterday to suggest a walk instead. This seemed like a good idea, and the weather was glorious. We drove to Brandon Station and eventually found the station car park. There had been quite a lot of traffic on the road but we had the car park completely to ourselves. Kate and Rob only arrived just in time for the train (they too had had difficulty in finding the station car park) but fortunately we were able to buy tickets on the train. We caught the 11.20 for the short journey to Thetford. From Thetford Station we walked into the town centre and along the river (the Little Ouse) across pretty bridges.
There was a refreshment kiosk by 'Coffee Mill' but it was only 11.45 so we walked across Nuns Bridge then to the earthworks of the Motte and Bailey. Richard and Rob climbed to the top of the hill but it was too steep for me. We went back to the refreshment kiosk by the river for a ploughman's lunch.
After lunch we set off along the river (mostly following the northern bank) out of Thetford - we were soon walking through attractive mixed forest (right). We were initially close to the river, but didn't see the path that would keep us by the river, and Kate was concerned that we would end up on the wrong side of the 'works' i.e. having to walk along the road for longer than necessary. However we easily found the path behind the factory/power station, right next to the river. We emerged into a field in which model helicopters were being flown, passed under the railway, and had a very short walk along the verge of the A134, opposite the Two Mile Bottom car park.
We took a track through more open countryside, back under the railway, and emerged at the pretty little St Mary's Church at Santon Downham - and the big car park. Suddenly there were people everywhere, especially cooking food on barbeques and messing about on the river. We crossed the river by a footbridge and walked up to the village on an attractive track. There's another pretty Church in the village and it had the advantage of serving refreshments on summer Sunday afternoons - so we stopped for a cup of tea.
We then walked along the road back to the river, crossed it, and turned left along a footpath back to Brandon. It was a much narrower path - never entirely overgrown, but with quite high vegetation on both sides, and it meandered its way alongside the river for several miles. But it was beautifully peaceful, with butterflies and dragonflies, and passed through very attractive woodland.
Eventually we emerged in Brandon and walked along the road to the station, then over the railway bridge and back to the waiting cars.