Blickling Park and the Upper Bure Valley

Preferring the hills and mountains of the Peaks and Lake District or the Dales of Yorkshire, this walk is not one that I expected to enjoy that much. It was just going to be one of those 'weekend' strolls through the flat Norfolk countryside. But no! After repeating the walk a third time in 2 weeks I felt the need to share it, both here and on EveryTrail.

Of course it helped that each time I did the walk, the weather was glorious and being Spring there were lots of flowers and much bird activity along the way. Also..... it was mid-week so I had the whole walk to myself. The solitude was bliss - despite the frequent 'near heart attacks' I experienced, each time I disturbed a ground feeding Pheasant!!!

The walk starts at the Blickling Hall National Trust Car Park. Regardless of which exit you take turn left and follow the road until you reach the gates of the park.

The Ancient Turnstile at the Park Gates
Beyond the gates - thru the ancient turnstile on the right - bear left where the track divides and take a few moments to reflect on Humphrey Repton's carefully sculptured landscape. Then on to the Great Wood where recently there has been much logging activity.

The omnipresent Barn Owl
The first time I walked along this track a Barn Owl swooped down and flew directly in front of me and down the track. That experience endeared me to this walk and immediately raised my spirits.

At the end of the track there is another (small and less well used) car park. Leave it and turn left along a very quiet single track country lane towards Itteringham.

The second time I did this walk I witnessed the Barn Owl make a kill by the side of the lane. I stopped in my tracks, but he was aware of my presence and after completing the kill he flew off into the nearby woods to enjoy the fruits of his labour. Again his presence lifted my spirits.

Just before the road junction at Itteringham Common turn to the right at a signposted footpath. It may be a bit muddy here but not for long. Cross the dyke and river by a series of footbridges, then bear slightly to the left towards a long meadow with a stream to the left (and river beyond that). Proceed slowly and quietly to observe heron and egret by the edge of the stream.

Watch out for Heron and Egret along this stream
 At the top of the meadow follow the edge of the wood until you come to a track emerging from the wood on your left. Directly opposite the track look for a stile which takes the footpath uphill along the edge of a field. On the summit look back at the glorious view across hills and open fields - not a road or track in sight. The continue along the path for wonderful views across the Bure Valley.

The path eventually drops down to farm buildings, a cottage by a pond and the main farmhouse. Continue past the farmhouse (along a long drive) and eventually turn onto the start of a country lane. Keep to the lane (all the time keeping an eye out for Heron by the river, in fields to the right), until you meet another track to the left, just before Fring Wood Farm.

If you plan to stop for lunch at the lovely Saracen's Head (see below) then turn left along the track, otherwise spare yourself a fairly tedious, uninspiring walk by continuing past the past the farm for a short distance to rejoin the route at the next turn right.

The Saracen's Head meets you at the end of the track
After lunch and a beer at the Saracen's Head walk a short distance along the road (slightly busier than the lanes used so far), until you meet a signposted footpath uphill through a field to the edge of Calthorpe Hill Plantation - a private wood that in late spring is crammed full of bluebells. Keep to the footpath until you meet the road. Then turn right and continue until you meet another signposted footpath on the left, (just before the road meets Fring Wood Farm).

At the end of the track bear left onto a field edge path and keep a look out for a stile into the meadow on the right. Cross this and walk through the meadow, (at the right time of year - June - the meadow is full of yellow flag iris), to reach a footbridge over the River Bure.

From the footbridge over the River Bure - watch out for the Barn Owl
After the bridge cross a long wet meadow (a sturdy, wide, boardwalk has been constructed) to low lying woodland at the far end, where there is another footbridge. Eventually the path emerges onto a country lane. Turn right and almost immediately left, just before some cottages. Keep to right around the field until the path reaches Blickling Park. 

Follow the path to the left (or carry straight on to the Park gates and the ancient turnstile, if you want to bypass the Park and return directly to the car park) to The Lake.
The northern edge of The Lake in Blickling Park
 
 Follow the path along the lake edge until you meet the Hall and its walled gardens.

Blickling Hall at the southern edge of The Lake

Looking into the formal gardens from the footpath that surrounds them

Eventually the footpath emerges at the front of the imposing hall. The path then continues on to

Blickling Hall
the Buck' Arms Inn where you can reward yourself with good food and drink before returning to the car park located behind the Inn.



The Buck' Arms Inn

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