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You are in: Norfolk » A Sense Of Place

28 August 2002 1617 BST
Norfolk walks: Stroll from timeless village
ostrich pub
Start at the Ostrich pub
Castle Acre is four miles north of Swaffham, just left of the A1065, travelling towards Fakenham. This walk starts at the Ostrich pub in the centre of the village, by the green.

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DISTANCE: 3.5 miles

MAP: OS Landranger 132 (GR 816152)

PARKING: In the pub car park, through the archway to the left of the building.

In its ancient hilltop setting above the gently flowing River Nar, Castle Acre is one of Norfolk's most attractive villages whose centre still has a timeless quality to it.

Its key position as a river crossing point on the Peddars Way dates back to Roman times, and the picturesque ruins of its Cluniac priory and castle who its later importance as both an ecclesiastical and military stronghold.

The walk starts in the village centre, which has several specialist shops, and then takes in green lanes and paths on both sides of the river.

It also touches on a large area of pleasant sheep meadow opened up to the public under a countryside access scheme.

A distant view of the recently-built wind turbine at Swaffham - the tallest in the country -seems appropriate as a new slant on ancient technology.


Turn left out of the pub and right through the 13th century Bailey Gate.

Turn left just before the Methodist church to the castle, founded soon after the Norman conquest of 1066. It now stands in ruins but the earthworks are among Britain's most impressive.

There is a fine view over the Nar to Swaffham, with its wind turbine on the skyline.

Skirt the castle, crossing a wooden bridge, up steps and turning right down steps. Just before a road, climb a stile to the right following a footpath fingerpost.

Pass a row of cottages on the left, go over a stile and follow the path round to the left and another stile.

At the road turn right and after 200 yards left into a lane, following byroad and Nar Valley Way signs.

The road becomes a track heading straight uphill; at a fork, bear right, over a stile and between overhanging hedges.

Turn right when the path meets a lane, and shortly, at Newton Mill, go over the bridge and immediately left on a track to the main road.

Cross the busy A1065 and turn sharp right on the "dead" bed of the old road. Earth has been piled in a gateway to keep out cars, but walk round it and ahead for 200 yards.

Turn left on a track which soon bends left and right then ahead through a gate following a yellow arrow. After 300 yards pass through a gap in a tall hedge. Turn right, still following a footpath sign, up Winchester Hill with pleasant views over the valley.

Follow the track downhill, passing Manor House on the right, and turn right at a lane to the main road.

Turn left past the George and Dragon and right after 100 yards down a lane signed Castle Acre. Cross the Nar and where the byroad turns right, go left over a stile into open access land, there is no clearly-defined path but head diagonally uphill across the meadow and then retrace your steps back to the castle and pub.

From Pub Strolls in Norfolk by Will Martin, published by Countryside Books, price £7.95.

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