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King's Lynn to Downham Market

Walked by Sally and Richard, Saturday 5th May 2007

13 miles along the Fen Rivers Way

Helen walked the most northerly stretch of the Fen Rivers Way in late April 2007, with her friends from the Cambridge University Rambling Club, and Richard and I decided to follow in their footsteps the following weekend. This section of the Fen Rivers Way follows the eastern bank of the River Great Ouse from King's Lynn to Downham Market, mostly along the flood defence bank. Whether you find yourself walking alongside mud or a fast-flowing river depends largely on the state of the tide (the Great Ouse is tidal as far as Denver Sluice); on this occasion there was plenty of water.

We travelled to King's Lynn on the 10.04am train, having parked the car by Downham Market Health Centre.
We walked through a rather depressing part of King's Lynn to the car park at Boal Quay, then crossed rather tatty 'tidal land' to the start/end of the Fen Rivers Way, just past the point where the River Nar joins the Great Ouse. We were soon on a cycle way, so the walking was fast even if the surface was rather hard. We passed the power station then took a bridge over the sluice at the end of the Relief Channel, which runs parallel to the Great Ouse all the way from here to Denver Sluice and was built to relieve the river following devasting floods in 1947. From here, the Fen Rivers Way follows the Great Ouse's flood defence bank (so softer walking). We were overtaken by three lads on bikes and there was a couple with a dog on the opposite bank, but otherwise we saw almost no-one all day.

We reached Wiggenhall St Germans; it's a pretty place, with houses grouped close to the church,
and just as the church clock struck midday we stopped right next to it for lunch (declining to feed a black labrador, out for a walk with its elderly owner). We walked on to the ruined church Wiggenhall St Peter and then to Magdalen (Wiggenhall St Mary Magdalen), where we crossed the river in order to photograph
the church.

As we continued south, past a dismantled railway, the Relief Channel became closer and we had swans, sheep and geese for company. Past Stowbridge there were clear views to Heygates Mill in Downham Market, and to the higher land to the east. Several trains passed us and we reached Downham Market as the northbound train was leaving the station just after 3pm.

Following leg of path.