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To Potter Heigham from Oby

Walked by Sally, Richard and Chris, Sunday 15th August 2010

Approximately 5 miles including 2 miles on Weavers' Way and 2 miles on an official diversion. Richard's return leg to the car was about 3.5 miles.

We walked this attractive short leg of the Weavers' Way with my sister Chris who was staying with us for the weekend. As on the previous leg (walking from Stalham to Potter Heigham) we were diverted away from the banks of the River Thurne by flood defence works, but today it didn't really matter - we still saw the river and the diversion provided variety (though it wasn't particularly well signposted; it was a good job we had a map). It was windy and overcast for much of the day but it stayed dry; a pleasant change after a very wet week.

We drove by way of the A47, A1064 and B1152 then took a minor road on the left to Clippesby, parking at the 'car park with walks' marked on the map near Hall Farm (at 420144). Note that this is just a small layby vaguelly in the middle of nowhere, with a board advertising a circular walk using the concessionary path that emerges at the layby. We didn't take this path (though it may be useful in the future) but rather continued along the road, past Manor Farm Cottages. Where the road turned sharp right we continued straight ahead on a footpath, to Harrison's Farm. Here Michelle Daniels, a 'studio potter' was just setting up shop for the day. She invited us to look at her pottery on display in a tent and in doing this we saw the two green oil drums in the garden, both obviously very hot - one is a kiln and the other contains sawdust. In addition to more conventional pottery (I bought a mug) she makes 'Raku ware' with a characteristic black on white 'cracked' appearance caused by removing items from the kiln while they are still hot (rapid cooling causes the glaze - and sometimes the whole pot - to crack) and putting them into sawdust which catches fire (producing black carbon).

We walked a short distance down the lane towards South Oby Dyke, but turned right onto the Weavers' Way before getting there. This took us behind New House Farm and then across fields to the beautiful thatched 13th/14th Century Thurne Church, dedicated to St Edmund, King and Martyr.

Across another field and we reached the lane down to Thurne Village and Staithe. It's a bustling place; with sailing boats just mooring (presumably stopping for lunch at the Lion Inn), Thurne Dyke Drainage Mill, and St Benet's Level Drainage Mill visible a short distance downstream. We ate our lunch at a conveniently placed bench overlooking Thurne Dyke.

Notices indicated that the path along the River Thurne between Thurne and Repps was closed (this may or may not have actually been the case, but we didn't want to take the risk; a later check of the Norfolk County Council  'newsroom' indicated that the closure order on this stretch of path has been extended to October 2010). The diversion we followed (part official, part our own invention) took us up the road past the Lion Inn. We were following a couple carrying a canoe and I was puzzled about where they were going with it - they eventually turned into a caravan park. The road became a track and then a grassy lane, and turned to the right, passing an attractive small campsite. We entered woodland above Shallam Dyke and twisted to the left to avoid Abbey Farm, now on a footpath which was quite overgrown in places. Eventually the path took a turning to the left, emerged from the woodland, and crossed the fields to Repps. We turned left at the road and walked down to Repps Staithe to rejoin the official route of the Weavers' Way.

Repps Staithe is quite different from Thurne, with the river lined by holiday chalets, each with its own mooring. The path went behind the chalets (though we still had a reasonable view of the river, through the gardens). There was a brief gap without buildings before we reached Repps Drainage Mill (in the process of being renovated) and the chalets and boatyards on the approach to Potter Heigham Bridge.

Richard went (by way of Repps Church and Ashby) to fetch the car whilst Chris and I had a cup of tea at the Riverside Cafe and generally watched the world go by at Potter Heigham Bridge. There was less human activity (and in particular fewer boats trying to negotiate the bridge's low clearance) than there had been on our previous visit just over a week ago, but plenty of action from the swans!

Following leg of path