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The Wherryman's Way: A Guide to Norfolk's Long Distance Footpath by Steve Silk - published by Halsgrove (Price £14.99)

Review by Cameron Self
 

This is the first guidebook to feature Norfolk's newest long distance footpath: the Wherryman's Way. The route, which meanders its way from Norwich to Great Yarmouth, was officially unveiled in 2005 and runs through the heart of some of Norfolk's most beautiful (and overlooked) Broadland scenery.

 The Halvergate Marshes

On the Halvergate Marshes

The book, which is attractively illustrated, is divided into 13 sections: Norwich and the Wensum, Trowse, Whitlingham, Bramerton, Surlingham Rockland St. Mary, Claxton and Carleton, Langley and Hardley, Loddon and Chedgrave, Heckingham and Nogdam End, Reedham, Breydon Water and the Berney Arms and Great Yarmouth.

The prose is informative and lively and reflects Steve's background as a journalist. He's particularly good on the riverside watering-holes (such as the Ferry Boat Inn, Bramerton Wood's End and the wonderfully isolated Berney Arms) - but also provides extensive information about the old ferries, the various windmills (working and otherwise) and the ruined and standing churches.

There are also some nice character studies along the way of famous naturalists such as Ted Ellis (Wheatfen Broad) and Arthur Patterson (Breydon Water) - famous wildfowlers such as Old Scientific Fuller (Rockland Broad) - odd-balls such as Billy Bluelight and other present-day ferrymen, boat-yard owners and historians. The mix of information helps to convey a sense of the area's rich heritage and its continuation as a working landscape today.

The route itself is compromised somewhat by its inability to cross dykes and tributaries - hence the long meander inland to circumnavigate the River Chet at Loddon and the big schlep from Wheatfen Broad to Rockland Staithe. However, the trail and the book are well worth attempting as they both provide entry into the watery world of Norfolk's past.

I have two niggles with the book: 

1) There could have been a more detailed pull-out map; the book is rather too heavy to stow away in your rucksack.

2) The 12 additional circular walks are a distraction from the main event.

Otherwise, a highly enjoyable and well presented guide.

June 2010

 

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