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The secret Little Switzerland hidden away in the Norfolk Broads

PUBLISHED: 11:36 04 January 2019 | UPDATED: 11:49 15 January 2019

An image showing the High and Low bridge at Little Switzerland, dated 1907. Photo: Museum of the Broads and the Marlpit Community Magazine

An image showing the High and Low bridge at Little Switzerland, dated 1907. Photo: Museum of the Broads and the Marlpit Community Magazine

Archant

They say Norfolk is one of the flattest counties in England.

The remains of the High and Low bridge. Photo: SubmittedThe remains of the High and Low bridge. Photo: Submitted

But nestled away in a woodland in the Broads is a hidden landscape named after one of the most mountainous countries in the word.

Located off Granny Bard’s Lane, near Belaugh, lies the remains of Little Switzerland - a once thriving hub of activity more than 100 years ago.

In its heyday, it featured a network of canals, a large bridge called the High and Low, and a pub situated on its entrance from the River Bure.

An entire mastodon skeleton was also found there in the 1800s.

The building you can see in this c1917 postcard is believed to be the old Groves End pub. Photo: Broadlandmemories.co.ukThe building you can see in this c1917 postcard is believed to be the old Groves End pub. Photo: Broadlandmemories.co.uk

But today, few know of Little Switzerland’s existence, let alone its location.

According to Norfolk County Council’s heritage website, the area got its name from the chalk pits that were in operation there in the 18th and 19th centuries.

Large heaps of earth were piled-up from the pits and created a small mountain-like landscape.

Today, the area is within a private estate and cannot be accessed by the public.

The High and Low bridge at Little Switzerland. A horse and cart can be seen above the bridge. Photo: Museum of the Broads and the Marlpit Community MagazineThe High and Low bridge at Little Switzerland. A horse and cart can be seen above the bridge. Photo: Museum of the Broads and the Marlpit Community Magazine

While the High and Low bridge still stands, it is not visible from outside the surrounding private woodland.

Photographs from over the summer show the structure almost completely covered in vegetation.

The council’s heritage explore website said: “The bridge is said to get its name from the fact that it had a high arch, but was set low as regards the approach on each side.

“Canals went right up to the working faces and wherries took the chalk to Acle Bridge Kiln, Limekiln Dyke at Barton Turf, and also Dilham, Reedham, Stalham and Great Yarmouth.”

The remains of the High and Low bridge. Photo: SubmittedThe remains of the High and Low bridge. Photo: Submitted

Along with the bridge, the remains of the canals are still visible, as are the steep banks of the chalk pits.

An Ordnance Survey map from between 1841 to 1952 reveals that a pub, called the Groves End, once stood on the entrance to the canals from the River Bure.

The tavern dates back to 1837, but is believed to have been destroyed by fire in the 1940s and was never rebuilt.

Meanwhile, Broads Authority records show the skeleton of a mastodon, which is an extinct relative of the elephant, was found somewhere within Little Switzerland in the 19th century.

The High and Low bridge at Little Switzerland. Photo: SubmittedThe High and Low bridge at Little Switzerland. Photo: Submitted

The same records show the chalk pit closed in 1877.

Do you know of another little-known historical site in Norfolk? Email luke.powell@archant.co.uk

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