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Boudicca Way, Norfolk, England – Part 2

I recently walked the Boudicca Way in Norfolk, England. See here for Boudicca Way, Norfolk, England – Part 1

Day 2 – Saxlingham Green to Gissing – 28km (17.4miles)

After a night in a tent and a B&B style breakfast, I packed up and headed out. I had planned for today to be the longest day of this walk, so thought it best I get started early. The trail went quickly through a field to a small lane then onto a major road for a hundred metres or so before diving back onto cropland.

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I started to see horses in paddocks as I walked and chatted to several as I went past, some coming to the fence to check me out. As I cut around a small copse of trees, I began to hear the highway ahead. I crossed another paddock and over the road where I could. I then walked between a pair of fields with horses and ponies roaming around before onto a small lane that again led to a rural road. I followed this to a small village before turning left and along for fifteen minutes to the large village of Tadburgh.

There is a pub on the far side of the township, and I was keen for a coffee, so I walked along the major road to it. It was closed. It seemed pretty standard for Norfolk not to find anywhere open that sold food. I sat on an outside seat and ate some trail mix before heading off again.

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I walked on again along tight country roads for some time, standing aside for the occasional car that came by. I turned right and headed onto farmland again along permissive lands provided for my walk. I crossed more wild trails fending off nettles with my walking poles. Over a major road,  I walked into more fields, passing some trees called, ‘Devil’s Wood’ then along a path to the village of Fritton. As I walked, I wished for a seat, and when I got to the corner there was one waiting near a phone box. I sat down and ate more of my trail mix. Again, like the other villages, there was no place to stop to buy any food, not even a corner shop to grab a snack.

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After a rest, I headed south with the threat of rain looming in the sky. It spat a little as I walked under a row of trees, but nothing more. Then it was back into farmland and across more wheat fields before heading south into Tyrell’s Wood, the first I was allowed to walk through. It seemed popular with dog walkers. When I got to the carpark, I took another rest, taking off my boots. Today my boots have been hard on my feet and ankles, and I could start to feel some strain on my Achilles’ tendons. So when I put the boots on again, I made sure to keep them loose.

Rain threatened again as I headed off again along country lanes. After ten minutes the rain finally came down. I was prepared for it and had brought a small umbrella with me. With it open, I stood under a large tree while a heavy barrage of rain came down for 30 minutes or so.

When it stopped, I headed off again and five minutes later had to cross a wheat field with a path cut through it. It was a little slippery, but the wet dirt had yet to turn to mud although my boots and legs got wet from the wet plants.

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I eventually made it to Pulham Market, a larger village with a pair of pubs close together. But time was getting on, and I estimated I still had another 2 hours to walk, so I didn’t want to stop for too long. I had no idea how far I had walked since leaving camp nearly 8 hours earlier, but my legs were growing sore and seized up each time I stopped. So I pushed on. My left Achilles tendon was still sore, so I tried to go easy on it, adjusting my boots again to give some comfort.

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I pushed on south along the road and then a country road that led onto more fields. I again cut across wheat fields and along grass verges hiding nettles until I reached another major highway. It was here I was to leave the trail to get to my accommodation another 5 miles away.

I walked through more country lanes, past houses and farms, through the village of Tivetshall St Mary to the remains of St Mary’s Church where I stopped for my final rest. I was just about to leave again when it again began to pour.

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Once it had finished, I set off but was again stiff. I crossed a railway bridge then followed a muddy trail across yet another wheat field and a grass paddock. One more road and I arrived at my B&B. My legs were sore, and I was knackered after a 10 and half hour day, nine of them walking. I looked forward to a shower and a walk to the pub for dinner.

After my shower, I could barely walk. Then because a local fete had been on that day, I discovered the pub was not serving food and delivery from Diss was going to cost me a fortune, so I resigned myself to eating trail mix again. But again, my host offered to cook me dinner. It was amazing. Afterwards, I watched some TV before collapsing into a comfortable bed.

Day 3 – Gissing to Diss – 10km (6.2miles)

Rain rain rain, all night long. It would be a short walk today to my end point where I was catching a train late in the day. My hosts told me I could stay as long as I liked, and I made a plan for when the rain stopped.

My host dropped me off back on the trail, and I waited in a pub for the rain to stop, but alas, it did not. The pub did not serve food on Mondays but could heat up a sausage roll for me. I eventually gave up waiting for the rain to stop and caught a bus to the train station in Diss where I hung out for several hours waiting for the train. Not the way I wanted to end the walk, but neither would be getting rained on and having to cross muddy fields.

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Overall
Honestly, while it was an interesting walk along roads and through paths across farms, there was not that much to the Boudicca Way. It was good exercise and got me used to a heavy pack again, but there were very few scenic views or places of interest. The difficulty finding accommodations and there being practically nowhere to eat made it a rather annoying trip. I’m glad I walked on this side of the country, but next, I will be off on what I hope will be a more decent hike, Cheshire’s Sandstone Trail.

The Lone Trail Wanderer

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Boudicca Way, Norfolk, England – Part 1

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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At Armishall I headed back onto a road and then along the wide stretch of grass between fields.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Boudicca Way, Norfolk, England – Part 2

The Lone Trail Wanderer