Angles Way 3: Knettishall Heath to Thelnetham

22 January 2012

The Angles Way is a footpath which is branded "From Broads to Brecks", running from Great Yarmouth along the routes of the Rivers Yare, Waveney and Little Ouse (and thus broadly the Norfolk/Suffolk border) to Knettishall Heath, near where the Icknield Way Path and the Peddars Way meet: on its way it passes the start of the Mid-Suffolk Footpath. However, on the whole I prefer to walk from west to east, and although Knettishall Heath is a fine place, I thought that it would serve just as well as an inspiring start and The Broads (and, with a short extension, the sea) would be a good finale. Further, as the two long distance paths I've mentioned above meet on the western side of Knettishall Heath, it seemed to me that it was therefore much more satisfying for the Angles Way to connect with them rather than finishing on the eastern side of the Heath, and so I started with a short extension to the official route.

With Lucy visiting a friend in Norfolk for the afternoon, it made it easy for Stephen to take George and Hetty for a winter's afternoon walk.

So, having started in the car park at the end of the Icknield Way Path and crossed the road, for the next few metres we are walking along the Peddars Way, heading for the north Norfolk coast, but very shortly we turn off to the right and take the pleasant winding path through Knettishall Heath

Once a Country Park in the care of Suffolk County Council, the area should shortly come into the hands of the Suffolk Wildlife Trust as the council have decided as part of their cost-saving to do without country parks. As a contributor to overall wellbeing and long-term health, I would have thought country parks excellent value for the taxpayer, but it's a more politically palatable cut than something relating to people's immediate critical needs. I hope that as a wildlife trust they don't immediately start plastering the place with "keep dogs on leads" notices that seem to be becoming more prevalent.

At the eastern edge of the former country park, we reach the start of the Angles Way proper

A short bit of road-walking takes us over the Little Ouse...

...and on to this track

We soon pass the grounds of Riddlesworth Hall Preparatory School and St Peter's church - both once home to Diana Spencer, the future Princess of Wales.

...before we return to the track, which has become muddier. Fortunately this section was the worst of the walk and George, though he got a bit worse that in this photo, then improved as the mud dried and fell off.

Along the track we pass over an oil pipeline, part of the Government Pipelines and Storage System (GPSS), run by the Oil and Pipelines Agency for the Ministry of Defence. The network was built before World War II but is still used to supply fuel to the military. This is the line from Buxton via Hethersett to Saffron Walden. On last week's walk along the Mid-Suffolk Footpath we passed over another GPSS pipe, but heading from Thetford to Woodbridge & Tunstall.

After crossing the road at Gasthorpe, the next section is along a farm road which is also a public footpath, though you might not guess it from this potentially intimidating sign near its start.

We pass within sight of the ruined church of St Nicholas, Gasthorpe, in ruins by the mid-19th century

At the farm we turned off the access road, past some penned sheep and cross the Little Ouse once more

It's getting smaller, but still moderately substantial even though there is only 7 or 8 km to go till its source. The Angles Way doesn't cross it again: the next time we cross a river it will be the River Waveney which starts at the same point but flows east rather than west.

Sheep on the flood plain of the Little Ouse

The afternoon is drawing on, and communications start with Lucy to arrange where she will pick me up. I'm fairly flexible as I'm on a linear walk but remaining light will become a limiting factor eventually. We turn off the main track of Mill Lane here and head towards Hopton Fen

After skirting Hopton Fen, we cross fields towards Hopton.

Once through Hopton, we take to this bridleway towards Spring Farm. The camera is starting to struggle as the light begins to fade.

Passing Thelnetham Windmill

Some lovely colours in the sky

And a final blurry photo of Thelnetham Fen pushes my handheld camera to its dim-light limits before a short walk, aided by torch light, takes us into Thelnetham proper, where Lucy picks us up by the now closed White Horse pub.

Total walk was 10.8 km in 2 hours 24 mins (including 9.4 km along the official line of the Angles Way from the eastern end of Knettishall Heath).

Previous Angles Way walk, from Rymer Point to Knettishall HeathAngles Way walks Next Angles Way walk - onwards towards Diss


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Unless otherwise stated, all images copyright (c) Stephen and Lucy Dawson