The 37-mile Boudicca Way trail is in South Norfolk (our home county). It runs roughly parallel with the A140 (itself a Roman road) between Norwich and Diss. Boudicca was the warrior queen of the Iceni tribe who once lived here, and after learning about her at primary school, the two youngest children were keen to have a go at the trail. We used it as an opportunity to test the children’s gear (and the children) in poor weather. It would be easy to duck out and head home if things didn’t work out.
True to Webb family form, we decided to walk it in the opposite direction to most, heading north back towards Norwich (which was closer to home). It was also early November, and daylight was in short supply. As we only had two days for the walk, we started in Shimpling, a small village a few miles north-east of Diss. We left our car in Trowse Newton, a couple of miles south of Norwich. So in total we walked about 32 miles of the Boudicca Way.
Day 1: Shimpling to Saxlingham Green
The Boudicca Way is well sign-posted, and we easily picked up the trail in Shimpling. The going was muddy on the farm track given the recent heavy rain. However, with head-torches at the start it was relatively easy to miss the worst of the puddles. The track then soon turned into a quiet country lane, and by this time a murky dawn had arrived.
We made our first of many crossings of the main A140 road to head through a farm, and on to footpaths and quiet lanes to the beautiful village of Pulham Market. Our route then followed a river roughly northwards towards Cole’s Common.
Once past Cole’s Common the Boudicca Way took us through some lovely historic woodland known as Tyrell’s Wood. We were right at the end of autumn, and the trees still had some colour in them. It was wonderful to see it so well cared for by the Woodland Trust.
The Boudicca Way then took us on a mixture of quiet lanes and footpaths through Fritton Common. From here it was on towards the (roughly) half-way point of Tasburgh.
Stopping for food and a rest is tricky during colder and wetter walks. The need to keep warm can mean we end up walking further than we intended. We had been looking for somewhere to sit down and eat for a while, and the porch of St Mary’s Church in Tasburgh was perfect! Dry and out of the wind. The children appreciated the rest, as it had been a very early start and we hadn’t really stopped up to this point.
There was also some interesting Iron Age history here, in the site of an old fort.
From Tasburgh the trail skirts around the edge of Redwings, the UK’s largest horse sanctuary. Although this isn’t the visitor centre, the trail takes you right through their extensive field network. We enjoyed talking to the horses!
Once past Saxlingham Green we started looking out for somewhere to camp. This was a little tricky, given the amount of private land as well as the muddy conditions. Eventually we found a spot tucked away in the corner of the trail. You can read our wild camping rules here. It was a long night, given the short daylight hours at this time of year, but it was helped considerably by the fact Mark had carried a bladder of wine for the grown-ups to share!
Day 2: Saxlingham Green to Trowse
The next day was brighter and drier. After a hot breakfast made on the camping stove we headed off across farmland towards Shotesham.
The woods just before we emerged into Shotesham itself were lovely, with some interesting World War Two history on the way. There was also a river to play in!
The stretch from Shotesham to Upper Stoke was very pretty.
Once at Upper Stoke we took a detour off the main route of the Boudicca Way to Caistor St Edmunds, where there is the remains of a Roman town – Venta Icenorum. This was much more interesting and informative than I expected, with the town walls still clearly visible. The information boards were great too. This is well worth the detour off the route.
From Caistor St Edmund we re-joined the Boudicca Way. We walked across farmland and through the permissive footpaths of High Ash Farm, over the A47 and into Trowse Newton, where we had left our car.
This was a surprisingly enjoyable walk, even in the damp and grey conditions we experienced. There’s a good mix of history (particularly at Tasburgh and Caistor St Edmund). It was lovely to explore parts of our home county that we had never seen before. Walking in Norfolk is underrated, and this is a good, easy route to explore beautiful South Norfolk.
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