In 60AD, Boudicca (bow-de-see-ya) was a warrior queen of an ancient Celtic tribe in the region now known as East Anglia. After her husband’s death, her lands were usurped by the Roman emperor Nero, she was flogged, and her daughters raped. From this, she was chosen to lead an uprising against the Roman army, which left 80 thousand Roman soldiers dead and laid waste to three cities including Londinium, which would eventually become London.
The Boudicca Way is a three day, 58km/36-mile hike that crosses the area where Boudicca lived, Iceni. It starts in the city of Norwich, England’s second largest city until the Industrial Revolution, to the market town of Diss.
Day 1 – Norwich to Saxlingham Green – 22.75km (14.1miles)
It was an early start in London to get ready. I’d packed the night before, so I just needed to have breakfast and get to Liverpool Street Station for my train to Norwich.
After three hours I arrived and spent some time getting water and repacking. Then I headed out along the path following the app I’d downloaded, which would prove invaluable during my trip.
The first hour of the hike was spent getting out of the city, crossing rivers and walking streets with endless cars everywhere. Finally, I passed through Trouse Newton and along a street that grew steadily thinner as I went. Towards the end of that road, I crossed a paddock where a henge had been. It’s now empty but for a circle of cleared ground.
I followed another road and after crossing the A47 highway the trail went rural. I followed it through cropland freshly sprinkled with rain from earlier that morning.
On the far side of the field, my feet were soaked from the wet plants. The worst was yet to come, as the trail lead alongside wheat fields it was thickly scattered with nettles, prickles and thorn bushes. Perhaps I should rethink always wearing shorts and would recommend anyone doing this walk to wear long pants. The sting of nettles goes away fairly quickly, but the scratches from the thorn bushes don’t. Trophies of hiking I guess.
At Armishall I headed back onto a road and then along the wide stretch of grass between fields.
I came to a T-intersection after being on the road for a mile and followed a side path to the site of the ancient Roman town of Venta Icenorum. The site is now just an empty field that had been dug up by archaeologists. I spent some time walking around it and reading the boards explaining how the Romans of 200-300AD lived.
I then headed back along the roads to the crossing and went the other way for four miles, passing small wooded areas and more crops.
I stopped at Shotesham for a Cider at the local pub only to find out I was too early for dinner. This was a stroke of bad luck as there had been no other food places along the way. This was also the closest food place to my accommodation, which was still three miles away. After a long day on the trail, I did not relish the idea of walking 3 miles each way to get dinner, so I resigned myself to simply dining on my trail mix in my tent.
I walked on through fields of corn and wheat, past more woods to finally come out at my accommodation, the wild camp site. It turns out it was actually a B&B that was trialling wild camping in their extensive back field. I would get the use of a cottage’s bathroom and kitchen while only sleeping in my tent. Sheer luxury for a campsite. When my hosts discovered I’d missed dinner at the pub, they insisted on cooking me some scrambled eggs. A touch of the East Anglian hospitality I was to see more of during the walk.
I chatted with my hosts and drank a glass of wine. They were lovely and interesting people. But after my long day walking I was looking forward to a shower, to get my tent pitched, and head to bed.
The Lone Trail Wanderer