Peddars Way

5: Swaffham to Castle Acre

16 May 2010

The first section of today's walk along the Peddars Way is along Procession Lane, officially a public road, but clearly sees relatively little traffic and is closer to a dirt road - pretty unusual for a public road in England.

Crossing the line of the railway from Swaffham to Dereham

Now officially only a bridleway, but hardly any worse than the road. After the first kilometre or so along Procession Road, we have lost the historic route of the Roman road, which we won't regain until after Castle Acre.

The dips and hollows in this field are the remains of the village of Great Palgrave which has disappeared like so many in Norfolk and Suffolk.

Looking across fields to Castle Acre, with the remains of the Priory on the left.

Today's walk was almost entirely along roads, albeit some verge walking, so it was good to see an "unsuitable for motors" sign, which is always an indication that, while this may be legally a road, we are unlikely to see much traffic. A ford is always fun, too.

The first section to Church Farm, here, was good enough, but after that it got rather narrow.

Approaching that ford - it looks jolly wet.


Ah, that looks much easier.

From the conveniently located bench on the other side of the River Nar, a good view to the Priory. The prior is thought to have been founded in 1089 by William de Warenne, the son the 1st Earl of Surrey. Originally the priory was sited within the walls of Castle Acre Castle, but this proved too small and inconvenient for the monks, hence the priory was relocated to the present site the next year. Various additions to the buildings continued until the priory was dissolved in 1537 under Henry VIII.

Coming into Castle Acre, which proved to be a delightful village

"Jokers" appears to be the name of the house!

The Bailey Gate, the only remaining gate of the fortified town.

The pleasant scene on the other side.

George on the banks of Castle Acre Castle

It's quite an impressive construction, and great fun to wander round. As Lucy was by now on her way to pick us up, I decided to go no further as this was such a splendid climax to the walk, and we explored the place at our leisure..

The castle was founded soon after the Norman Conquest of 1066 by William de Warenne, the first Earl of Surrey, as his most important estate in Norfolk. Because it was here that the Peddars Way crossed the River Nar, it was of some strategic importance. The motte-and-bailey construction can be seen here, with the bailey centre picture beyond the bridge, and the high motte on the right surrounded by curtain walls.

Looking across the bridge to the motte with its fortified residence inside.

From near the south end of the bailey, looking across the valley of the River Nar.

Across the bailey to the motte. The bailey was where most of the buildings were located, including living quarters, stores and workshops - only in the event of a fierce attack would the withdrawal be made to the motte.

Inside the motte, the remains of the fortifed keep - its walls were strengthened for protection in the 1139-53 Civil War, but after that it fell into disuse and the buildings in the bailey were enhanced to offer more sumptuous accommodation for the Warenne Earls.

Total along the Peddars Way 8.1 km in 2 hours 5 mins - plus another 1 km around the castle.

Despite the large amounts of road-walking, enough to command interest and a lovely walk in the sunshine. We're 57% of the way to the sea!



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