walks through time
Whitlingham Park, just two miles from Norwich features the ruin of a monk's manor house, evidence of Palaeolithic flint-knapping and has the first broad to be created in the area for centuries.
Start Point: Whitlingham Country Park
Park Ranger's Office: 01603 610734
Ordnance Survey: Landranger 134: Map ref - 254078
Distance of nature walk: approx. 3.5km (2.2 miles)
Distance of history walk: approx. 4.2km (2.8 miles)
Time: approx. 1.5 hours
Paths are of varying width and a mix of tarmac, compacted earth/stone that can become muddy after rain and woodland path. The history walk is not suitable for wheelchair access through Whitlingham Wood, but the lime kiln can still be reach by wheelchair via access from the road.
From the Little Broad car park, facing the car park entrance, leave the car park in the far left corner, walk through the kissing gate and down the lime avenue.
The lime avenue was created in the Victorian era as a garden feature stretching from Crown Point Manor down towards Trowse Newton Hall (now a ruin).
through the kissing gate at the bottom of the lime avenue and turn right.
Follow the road and after passing the slipway take the first path on the
left along the edge of the Great Broad until the first bridge you come to.
The Great Broad at Whitlingham Park has been created through the process of gravel extraction. Gravel from the broad has been used to build projects in Norwich including the Castle Mall and The Forum. The bridge at stop number two crosses a small dyke. Dykes have been a key feature of Broadland over the last few centuries.
the Great Broad pathway taking the small footpath to the road. Turn left
and follow the road until it corners around to the right. Turn right onto
a footpath leading through the woods, there is a yellow footpath way marker
on the fence rail.
Whitlingham Wood is situated at the lower end of the country park. This area has a history of mining, including flint-knapping from 4000BC up to the 18th century.
Whitlingham Wood you will enter a traditional Norfolk meadow. Walk through
the meadow and turn right on to a hard surfaced path, there is a bench here
for a rest before climbing up the slope which follows.
The wildflower meadow is maintained by taking a hay cut around the end of July. The chalky bank beneath the meadow makes it a superb habitat for wildlife. The wildflower meadow is a really rare habitat. Nearly 98% of Norfolk's meadowland has been lost since around the time of WWII, so it's vital the area is maintained in this way.
on the hand surfaced path and follow it through Whitlingham Wood.
As the path sweeps through the wood, to the left you will see a sheer drop. This is the top of a chalk pit, which was worked until around the 1920s. As you continue on the woodland path you will see another chalk pit area on your left. The chalk ground base makes an ideal climate for trees like Ewe and Birch, but just a few metres to the right, you have Scots Pine and Silver Birch which require a really sandy soil in which to live.
Follow the woodland path down a small flight of steps cut into the floor and turn right along a short pathway. It is signed for the lime kiln.
The lime kiln is one of the best examples remaining in Norfolk. The lime from this pit would have been taken to the riverside, drawn by ponies along a tramway. From here it would have been transported by wherry along the River Yare to the cement works at Berney Arms and Burgh Castle. The kiln itself is built in a style unique to East Anglia and is now a winter hibernaculum for a variety of bat species.
the lime kiln, walk back along the pathway and go through the kissing gate.
Follow the road, go across the car park and you will see a path leading
from it between the trees, take this path. At the end of the path go through
the kissing gate and the path leads into the base of the chalk pit.
The final stop on our history walk. What is now the footpath into the basin of the former chalk pit is where the tramline would have been that allowed chalk, mined from the pit, to be taken down to the River Yare for transport. This is a relatively recent mine, worked right up until the late 1920s. Evidence has been found in the area of a Neolithic flint axe factory, including unfinished axes and waste flakes - discarded some 4000 years ago.
|Head back out of the chalk pit the way you came and turn left, walking past the white house, along the road. After the white house take the grass path heading across the meadow, back through the trees where stop three is and then back onto the road. Follow along the road and then back along the side of the Great Broad, back to the Little Broad car park.|
Start the nature walk from the Great Broad car park. Leave the car park by heading down towards the water's edge and the concrete slipway. Be careful as you cross the road. This is stop number one.
The Great Broad at Whitlingham Park has been created through the process of gravel extraction. The work began in 1995 with the quarry removing around 220,000 tonnes of material a year. For the quarry to extract the material they had three large electric pumps, pumping out 200 litres a second of water, working 24 hour a day.
When the quarrying had finished they turned off the pumps and the water filled up due to the natural ground water level. Nature has quickly reclaimed the area to create a new wildlife habitat in this part of Norfolk with a high concentration of insects, wildflowers and bird life
the road and after passing the slipway take the first path on the left along
the edge of the Great Broad until the first bridge you come to.
The bridge at stop number two crosses a small dyke. Dykes have been a key feature of Broadland over the last few centuries both in terms of land management and as a source of generating income from the sale of reed and sedge to the thatching industry.
the wooden bridge, continue along the foot path and it leads you to the
far eastern end of the Great Broad.
The Great Broad is almost a mile in length, making it one of the largest broads in the area, with some 82 acres of water. It's the first broad (shallow lake) to have been created in the area for centuries. In addition to walking and cycling in the park, thousands of people enjoy recreational time afloat on the broad throughout much of the year.
the path around the northern shore. After about five minutes you will come
to the conservation area and a path leading off to the left which leads
to a bird screen.
The conservation area forms a horseshoe of water around a small wooded island. The water in this part of the broad is much shallower, this makes it ideal for waders and the wildfowl wanting to use the area. You'll see a great deal of Greater Reed Base along the northern side of the broad which provides excellent cover for the birdlife. You'll see coots, mallards, the mute swan and Egyptian and Canadian geese in the parkland.
after the path to the bird screen you will walk past a bank of buddleia
lining the path. After continuing a short distance you will see a grass
path leading to a platform on the edge of the Great Broad.
The northern shore of the broad features a patch of broadland that represents a lot of the land use in this part of the world for the last few hundred years. If you take the path to the platform at the edge of the water, depending on the time of year you visit, you'll see a myriad of plantlife including the yellow flag iris. Reed and sedge were hugely important to the Norfolk economy as a supply of materials for the thatching industry, but now it provides an important wildlife habitat for many of the iconic species of the area such as the swallowtail butterfly and bittern.
As you return to the main path, turn left and follow the pathway around the water's edge. After some distance you will reach a crossroads of paths. Turning right would lead you to the River Yare and the river bus platform. Turn left and follow the path between the Little and Great Broads.
Where the path forks take the left hand fork, this brings you to a small grassy area where this is a bench if you need a rest. Once at the road turn left, then take the second right and you are back in the Great Broad car park.
Visit the interactive video tour at Whitlingham Country Park at bbc.co.uk/norfolk