Path Clearance by Norfolk Ramblers at Mulbarton and Bracon Ash

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Volunteers from Norfolk Ramblers have cleared FP3 (footpath 3) beside the Paddocks and FP4 from the road in Mulbarton. Much fun was had by those involved in what was another well organised event by Peter James, the area treasurer.

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Above is the FP3 path before clearance, and below is after clearance was completed.

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Opposite the common land area at Mulbarton the footpath FP4 has been completely blocked for over two years. The volunteers were able to clear many fallen branches and trees, with the brambles then cut back.

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The volunteers, not yet tired by their hard work, then moved on to Bracon Ash FP1 which had previously been completely blocked. The two photos above show this path before and after clearance. They were able to get halfway along this path and will return as soon as practical to finish off the clearance.

Anyone wanting to get involved in path clearance, please get in touch with Peter James, his contact details are at http://www.norfolkra.org.uk/, it’s a fun day out and the area Ramblers have invested in a range of equipment to make the task easier.

Boardwalk Improvement at Scarning Fen

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On a fine but frosty day, Peter James was out once again, but this time without path cutting equipment.  Instead, he was geared up with generator, compressor and staple gun to renew 50 metres of decaying wire mesh on the boardwalk at Scarning Fen in Dereham (Footpath 14a).

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Once the equipment had been carried on site (a small job in itself), Ken and Catherine Hawkins scraped off the old wire netting – and the frozen on leaves – and Peter followed up installing the new wire mesh.

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It was gratifying that a number of people using the path stopped by to say ‘thank you’ for the work being done.  Four hours later, and the mesh was down and ready for use.

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We’re always keen to get more volunteers for path clearance work, it’s good exercise, great for the local community and also fun! We have lots of equipment available to use, and we’re also keen to hear from anyone who has blocked paths near to where they live. Please do contact us (we love hearing from people!), our details are available at http://www.norfolkra.org.uk/.

Ramblers and Open Spaces Society Call for Norfolk County Council to Do More

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Norfolk Area Ramblers and the Open Spaces Society have today published a news release calling on Norfolk County Council to do more about the state of our county’s paths.

The release reads:

Little satisfaction with our public rights of way network

The Ramblers and Open Spaces Society have today called for Norfolk County Council to take action to improve on its poor reputation in maintaining and promoting its rights of way network.

Only a few weeks ago, the Council celebrated the opening of the latest stretch of the England Coast Path, from Hopton on Sea to Sea Palling. At the opening, the Chairman of the County Council, David Collis, joined Lord Gardiner (Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) and Andrews Sells (Chairman of Natural England) to tell the gathered audience about the great benefits that walking – and the availability of footpaths – brought to the whole community: individual benefits in physical and mental health, and economic benefits to the county.

The Ramblers – who agree entirely with this – wondered then why the same considerations did not apply to the rest of the county’s 2400 mile public rights of way network. We wrote to the Chairman to ask about this, pointing out that the Council as Highway Authority has a duty to assert and protect public rights of way in Norfolk. Since then, the results from the 2016 Highways and Transport Network Survey have been published .

The Council is rightly pleased that, for the third year in a row, it has been in the top 3 of 28 similar counties for Highways and Transport matters overall. But it overlooked the fact that, also for the third year in a row, it is in the bottom half dozen for ‘Satisfaction with public rights of way’ – this year being 25th out of 28.

The Ramblers and Open Spaces Society have therefore put a question to the meeting of the Council’s Environment, Development and Transport (EDT) Committee on 11 November, to ask: If Norfolk is serious in aspirations to promote itself as a preferred tourist destination, public satisfaction scores should be brought towards the top of the list. Will the Committee refer this as a significant concern to the LAF* and ask them to bring forward proposals, or does the Committee have other proposals to address this?

Norfolk has an amazing network of public rights of way, but fails to promote and maintain them, and thereby fails to secure the health and financial benefits that are there in return for modest investment and effort. We hope the EDT will take an initial step to change this. Ken Hawkins will be attending the meeting of the EDT at 1000 on Friday 11 November to hear the response.

For further information, please contact Ken Hawkins on 01362 691455 or 07505 426750.

*The LAF is the Local Access Forum, which represents a variety of countryside interests with regards to improving public access across our beautiful county, and provides independent strategic advice to the County Council and others where there are issues around public access – see https://www.norfolk.gov.uk/nlaf.

Going, Going Gone – Dereham Footpath Warden Unblocks Route!

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Julian White, from Hike Norfolk, led a walk around Dereham on Sunday which was attended by fifteen walkers. The interesting walk went past Borrow Hall, the former Jolly Farmers pub, Bishop Bonner’s Cottage and St. Nicholas Church.

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The walk was interesting and varied, but there was a fallen tree near to the Mattishall Road. The tree blocked the footpath, requiring a small jump to get past. In the above photo is Clive Manwaring showing how to do it   🙂

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Ken Hawkins, who had initially been behind the creation of the walks, is the Dereham Footpath Warden and Norfolk Ramblers Area Secretary and on hearing about the obstacle he promptly went to ensure that it was removed for anyone else wanting to walk the path. Thanks to Ken for such a fast response!

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Above is a photo of Hike Norfolk after the walk, which can be found at:

http://derehamtc.norfolkparishes.gov.uk/files/2015/08/Walk-2-Badley-Moor2.pdf

Norfolk Ramblers First Workshop on 2026 Proves to be a Success

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1 January 2026 is a legal cut-off date for adding historic paths to the definitive map – the official record of the public rights of way in an area. We need help from volunteers to ensure that these rights are protected and we have held our first workshop in Norfolk to provide guidance on how to do this.

The need now is for volunteers to review records in a systematic fashion so that we capture every route in Norfolk which is a public right of way but not yet recorded as one (or is recorded for use at lower rights than it should be). The Area has set aside money to hold workshops for anyone (not just in The Ramblers) willing to spend some time on this, to show them just how this can be done. The first of these workshops, led by Helen Chester of the British Horse Society was held on 29 October, when 17 people attended and learned how to undertake this research.

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In the space of 3½ hours, Helen gave a detailed authoritative presentation about what evidence was available and how to track it down and present it. At the end of this tour de force, she received a spontaneous round of applause. We’re really grateful to everyone who took part, both in attending the event and also those who helped to organise it. This work is really important and although the deadline seems a long way in the future, there is much work that needs to take place now to protect our paths.

If you would like to take part in a future workshop, or just to know more, please contact Ken Hawkins ken-hawkins@tiscali.co.uk or 07505 426750.

Official Opening of Second Norfolk Stretch of English Coast Path

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The official opening of the second stretch of the county’s English Coast Path took place this week in Great Yarmouth, a path which stretches from Hopton-on-Sea to Sea Palling. The first stage of the path has already been opened and runs from Weybourne to Sea Palling.

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There was a formal event at St.Georges Theatre in Great Yarmouth, which was attended by Lord Gardiner (Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at DEFRA), David Collis (Chairman of Norfolk County Council) and Andrews Sells (chairman of Natural England). Alison Hallas, the Rambler’s policy and advocacy officer was also in attendance, with Ian Mitchell, Peter James, Catherine Hawkins and Ken Hawkins also representing Ramblers.

There were talks about how the opening of the path was of benefit to tourism in the area, as well as the benefits of walking which can improve physical and mental health. After the meeting there then followed a walk around the town.

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New signage has been added along the route which is an important additional element to the English coast path. This is an on-going project, supported by the Ramblers, which will open by 2020 allowing access around the entire coast-line of England. Further information about progress is available at http://www.nationaltrail.co.uk/england-coast-path.

Norfolk County Council – Walking Festival Taking Place from 22 to 30 October 2016

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At the end of October 2016, Norfolk County Council is holding its second Walking Festival which now also includes cycling.  The full event runs from 22 to 30 October, and incorporates the ‘official’ opening of the second Norfolk stretch of the England Coast Path (Hopton on Sea to Sea Palling) on Monday 24 October.  The Ramblers has, via Peter James, entered a walk along this stretch in two parts, on Sundays 23 and 30 October.  Our member Ken Hawkins has also entered walks for Dereham Walkers are Welcome on 23, 26 and 28 October.

Booking for all of the walks in the Festival is through the Festival website at http://www.norfolkwalkingfestival.co.uk/, and there are also good links from the Norfolk County Council home page https://www.norfolk.gov.uk/.

Ranworth to Panxworth Reinstated Path Now Open

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A walk took place on Sunday 18 September to mark the opening of the newly reinstated Ranworth to Panxworth footpaths. Members of the parish had in previous years been discouraged from using the routes by local landowners and the reinstatement of the paths was led by members of the local parish and the Ramblers.

The newly reinstated path allows access between the two villages which doesn’t involve walking along the road, and is a shorter and more direct route. The route had commonly been used by those from Ranworth who caught public transport into Norwich from Panxworth, and also by school-children from Panxworth to get to Ranworth school, before its closure.

As well as the reinstatement of the main route between the two villages, there is also a branch off which goes to the well kept churchyard of Panxworth church. The previously overgrown parts of the route have now been cut by Norfolk County Council, with new signage added.

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Members of the parish council were able to make an initial application to Norfolk County Council to open this route, with the support of the Ramblers. Members of the parish helped with completing user evidence forms, and with donations from several ramblers groups and an anonymous donor, money was raised to pay for a rights of way specialist to present the case at a public inquiry. Thanks to the work of everyone involved this meant that the Planning Inspector made a report in favour of securing the footpath as a public right of way.

Sue Hitchcock, the chair of Woodbastwick Parish Council, has been instrumental in getting behind the project, and she was present at the event.

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Richard May, the Norfolk Ramblers Area Chairman who was also present at the opening of the path, said:

“It’s been a really enjoyable walk and I enjoyed meeting members from the parish who I know will find the path useful. I’m sure that Ramblers groups from around the county, and beyond, will also make full use of the path in the coming years”.

Richard added:

“The Ramblers are really grateful to everyone in the parish who has worked to help ensure that this right of way has been protected. It shows that by parishes and the Ramblers working together we are able to achieve positive results”.

A more complete description of the walk will be featured in the Eastern Daily Press and Eastern Evening News next weekend (24-25 September 2016).

Below is a photo of the group at Panxworth church, a fascinating medieval church which was restored in the Victorian period. The congregation size wasn’t large enough to sustain it and the nave fell into disrepair in the late twentieth century, and was later demolished, leaving only the tower.

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Green Build Show at Felbrigg Hall

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Thanks to all those who helped at our stand at the Green Build stand at Felbrigg this weekend, and to everyone who came to visit us. We had a very successful weekend, with particularly good weather on the Sunday, and it was great to see so many people.

Thanks also to those who made purchases of our books, the money raised goes to help our path clearance fund. It’s always really positive to get such feedback about our work and hearing from everyone in the community about their experiences with their local footpaths and areas of public access.

Thanks to Sheringham group for helping to man the stand, and other areas officers for their support! We aim to be back at the 2017 event.