Saturday, 28 March 2015

Peddar's Way / Norfolk Coast Path

Castle Acre → Stonebridge

cressingham-library.jpg Distance: 21.76 miles
Ascent: 321 metres
Duration: 6 hours 5 minutes

Diverted by Churches
« Not walked | Not walked »

Today's walking wasn't as arrow-straight as yesterday's. The line of Peddars Way is lost in a number of places, so the route swings back and forth, all the while following the general direction of the Straight Line which it occasionally comes close enough to kiss.

I'd expected to walk fewer miles than yesterday, but three detours nudged my distance up. Each one was a diversion to look at a church. First, the ruins of Castle Acre Priory, which can be appreciated from the common land to its east. I didn't pay to go in, but a walk around the fence revealed the huge scale of the old complex.

bobs-church.jpgA tourist information sign by the side of the road promising "Historic Murals" diverted me half a mile to my second church: St Mary's, Houghton-on-the-Hill. Unfortunately the roadside sign hadn't revealed that the church is only open between 1200 and 1400 daily, so the best I could do was enjoy the tranquil setting and peer in through the heavily fortified windows. A notice outside revealed that the church has been lovingly restored over the years by "Bob", after finding the abandoned building being allegedly used by a group of satanists.

threxton-church.jpgOn the third occasion I was luckier. The round tower of All Saints, Threxton beckoned me off The Way, and a sign in the porch welcomingly declared "the door is never locked; stay as long as you like". Inside the pillars of the Nave leaned outwards like those in St David's cathedral. I couldn't help but kneel at the altar rail and pray.

Shortly afterwards I encountered the opposite sensation, and one that seems inevitable on any National Trail: a military firing range. The Way runs along the perimeter of the vast (120 km2) Stanford Training Area, a military site that in recent years seems to have been deliberately expanded rather than returned to the public. (It was first commandeered in 1942 at four weeks' notice; a petition to Parliament five years later requesting reinstatement apparently fell on deaf years.)

So another long walk, and thankfully the rain more-or-less held off. It's been a solitary day and I'm ready for a quiet evening in the pub at which I'm lodging. I think a part of me is still somewhere in those churches.

Posted by pab at 16:07 | Comments will be back one day. Please email me instead!