The secret Little Switzerland hidden away in the Norfolk Broads
PUBLISHED: 11:36 04 January 2019 | UPDATED: 11:49 15 January 2019
They say Norfolk is one of the flattest counties in England.
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.
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.
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.”
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 same records show the chalk pit closed in 1877.
• Do you know of another little-known historical site in Norfolk? Email firstname.lastname@example.org