The Peddars Way is a long distance footpath in Norfolk, England. It is 46 miles (74 km) long and follows the route of a Roman road.
A footpath I’ve always been intrigued by. It makes a popular walking holiday – usually undertaken over the course of several days. Or if you are daft enough you suggest giving it a go over the weekend. I really never do learn…
The start of our walk, eventful. Well what else did you expect?
Narrowly escaping burning fuel stations and just missing major road closures en route. A slight navigational hiccup. Yes; working out I’m in the wrong flipping place as our lift drives off down the road. Thinking on our feet we quickly work out a renewed plan of attack. Only to set off and discover a short section of the path ahead is closed for maintenance, with an epic diversion via the freaking moon.
*Bangs head on nearest tree.*
Feeling somewhat apprehensive we decided to roll with it. Press ahead and try and tweak the diversion a little, that’s what maps are for right?
A short, pleasant stroll through the forest until we hit the Path closed sign. We push our luck a little, how closed does it mean exactly?
Turns out it means no path in any way, shape or form.
Exasperated we resign ourselves to the dreaded diversion.
However a passing local takes pity on us and suggests a slightly modified route. Armed with directions we set off on our new route until once again I bump into sodding Gandalf.
He grunts. ‘You ain’t going that way. Path’s closed.’
We must have misinterpreted the directions.
Turning around we follow the course of the river which we desperately need to cross. Checking my GPS we are wandering further and further in the wrong direction and I’m not finding a suitable alternative route.
Finally we can stand the frustration no more. Should we ignore Gandalf and try again? Maybe he’s up for negotiation…
Retracing our steps once more along the riverbank, reaching the same spot and this time Gandalf takes the form of a photo taking woman.
‘The path’s closed, you won’t get through there.’
‘Well just how closed is it?’ we enquire.
We are informed a fence is up, the path has gone, certain doom awaits.
You know what Gandalf, we’re a bit hot and bothered and fed up with all this faffing about – we accept your challenge.
Sometimes you’ve just got to be a fence jumper, admittedly being on the short side I’m not a graceful one but I’ll give it my best shot.
With my friend leading the way and preparing to vault, without the merest hint of sarcasm 😉 I point out that she could just walk around the tree at the end of the fence. :p
Turns out the bridge was perfectly fine and the path on the other side of it a lovely, shiny new boardwalk.
We follow the path, navigating the edge of the forest until we reach the section we have been dreading. Crossing The A11, a pretty busy dual carriageway.
Scary stuff, and a few minutes spent on the central reservation is more than enough to set your pulse racing. Phew.
Once across the pace became much gentler, the heat of the day grew as we passed a mixture of forest and farming land.
A stint past military training grounds, and a fence even I wouldn’t consider jumping.
People few and far between but each person we meet keen to chat. We are instantly recognisable as walkers doing the Peddars way, clearly we must look far more the professional outfit than we actually are. 😉
With the heat of the day continually building, (Seriously?! It’s Flipping early April, our planned intention to avoid walking in the heat.) and a long gruelling section alongside roads and country lanes. Nothing to look at except hedges. It’s tough.
We should have stopped, drank water, eaten food. However when the going gets tough we both instinctively need to get the hell out of there, head down, plod on.
We dream of a pub and start hallucinating about bottles of crisp, ice cold cider.
A brief distraction as caching friends get in touch, needing help with a cache near home. The string of heat stroke inspired, deluded bollocks they get in response probably not quite what they were expecting.
*Bangs head on glass of cider.*
**Oh wait, there’s not actually one there…
Eventually (about 20 miles in.) we reach a small village, my friend desperate for a water refill and we are both in need of a sock change. We stop a passing local who graciously attempts to not be alarmed at our state. She confesses she has been on the Baileys and is feeling a bit squiffy. We instantly adore her.
She explains there is no local shop, but after giving us a quick once over takes pity on us and invites us back to hers for a cuppa and a lift.
Hell Yes. We politely decline but explain we need water. In true guardian angel fashion she dashes into her friend’s house to fetch water and points us to a bench down the road.
Best. Bench. In. The. World. Ever.
I mean look at that sign!
We love that bench.
We patch our feet, change our socks, eat, drink and even find a geocache. I told you it was a good bench.
Feeling more positive we set off on our next stretch of the day, onwards to Castle Acre where we are staying the night.
However it’s the return of the long, straight, not much to look at, monotony.
Scrolling ahead on my GPS to see how much further we have to go, I excitedly spot a McDonald’s on my map up ahead, even better on the route we take. It’s more than I can hope for, bearing in mind I’ve been talking utter crap and banging my head on imaginary drinks…
Each time we reach a road to cross a real sense of achievement of another section ticked off, progress being made.
Then Finally the excited cries as my friend spots those iconic Golden Arches of McDonald’s, finer than any desert oasis.
We instantly divert, fence jump (obvs.) and order the coldest, sweetest things on the menu.
Never mind the bench; Best. Mcflurry. Ever.
The boost enough to push us onwards on the final leg of the day. Supercharged we press on to reach Castle Acre for dusk. I’m Thrilled to be back after a fabulous visit to the area last year.
Even more so to spot the stunning priory in the setting sun.
The euphoria that we’ve actually bloody done it.
We’ve made the first section (Well over half way.) and have reached our base for the night. Albeit it’s safe to say, fairly broken.
As locals turn up for dinner at the Inn we are staying in, dressed in their Saturday night finery we join the crowd looking like a delirious pair of hiking hobos.
Shower, food, cider (hurrah!) and sleep awaits.