A Walker’s Journal by Anthony Linick
Peddars Way and Norfolk Coast Path – even this language reveals that here we are really dealing with two quite specific entities. They have been conjoined for practical purposes (such as guidebooks, for instance) and they are both Norfolk routes. Additionally, the Peddars Way reaches its northern terminus at Holme-next-the-sea, though most walkers will want to complete the further two and a half miles into Hunstanton – where the Norfolk Coast Path begins its coastal journey to Cromer.
But in character as well as geography the Peddars Way is quite distinct from its coastal cousin. Following lines of an ancient Roman route it maintains an inland itinerary, using roads and trackways in an agricultural setting as it makes its way in a northerly direction from Knettishall Heath, near Thetford. Officially, the Peddars Way is 46 miles long; almost certainly you will walk additional miles in pursuit of evening accommodation – there are very few places offering beds on the route itself and, indeed, other places for restocking supplies or taking refreshment are few and far between. If you do not rely on a tour company to organize your walk for you (as we did in 2012) and you wish to do your own booking then perhaps the clues offered in my book on the walking enterprise may help you get started. A Walker’s Alphabet: Adventures on the Long-distance Footpaths of Great Britain was published in 2010 and is available from the publisher at www.authorhouse.co.uk or from www.authorhouse.com or from www.amazon.co.uk or from www.amazon.com.
We used the official national trail guide by Bruce Robinson, published by the Aurum Press and containing relevant sections of the Ordnance Survey maps. But because we often had to head off-route to our places of accommodation I also found it useful to have the relevant OS maps themselves. In the Explorer series these are 229 (Thetford Forest in The Brecks), 236 (King’s Lynn, Downham Market & Swaffham) and 250 (Norfolk Coast West).
We were looking for a route that would not be too challenging physically – and we found it in the Peddars Way. Norfolk is not completely flat but all of the gradients we walked were comparatively easy. Some would say that this makes for a boring activity, and it is true that the countryside, with its fields under cultivation and its green woodlands is unvarying to a fault. It was lovely, particularly in late May when we walked it, but it lacked dramatic variety and perhaps it relied on paved roadways a bit too much as well. Some walkers will find this exactly what they are looking for in a footpath and I would have no hesitation in recommending it therefore. You can always let me know how you got on by leaving a message on the Contact Page.
Our stages were as follows:
Day 1: Knettishall Heath to Thompson – 10.5 miles
Day 2: Thompson to Sporle – 12.5 miles
Day 3: Sporle to Harpley – 12.5 miles
Day 4: Harpley to Ringstead – 10.5 miles
Day 5: Ringstead to Hunstanton – 5 miles