Norfolk Walk: Mulbarton, Swardeston and Swainsthorpe

Norfolk Walk: Mulbarton, Swardeston and Swainsthorpe

Norfolk Walk: Mulbarton, Swardeston and Swainsthorpe - Credit: Archant

This walk from Malcolm Palmer and Susie Bloomfield explores the open countryside between three busy villages south of Norwich using mainly well-walked paths.


Start: Mulbarton Church

Map: Explorer 237 G/R TG194012

Distance: 5.75 miles

Public Transport: There is a frequent and regular bus service between Norwich and Mulbarton

Timetables: 0871 2002233,

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This walk from Malcolm Palmer and Susie Bloomfield explores the open countryside between three busy villages south of Norwich using mainly well-walked paths.

From Mulbarton Church, the route crosses the busy B1113 road (called'Ikeneild Street' on Faden's 1797 map) and soon swings north along a shallow, swampy valley, whose waters are bound for the River Yare. Then the route turns east and enters Swardeston village beside St. Mary the Virgin Church, which is famous for its links to Edith Cavell whose father was the Vicar of Swardeston for 46 years.

The B1113 is re-crossed and the quiet countryside soon regained. The walk then passes Gowthorpe Manor with its impressive 17th century barn and reaches a stretch of undulating land providing good views to the east and south. After visiting the final village, Swainsthorpe, the route passes a large building which, between 1836 and 1930, was the Henstead Union Workhouse.

Refreshments are available at the World's End Public House in Mulbarton.

? There is parking on the rough ground between the church and the village pond with its resident ducks. Leaving the church, cross the road and go onto the northern tip of the huge triangular common. Continue ahead a few metres to reach the main road (B1113) opposite a house with a large front garden. Cross and enter a footpath clearly signposted to the left of the property called Richmond Lodge. Go straight ahead with a hedge on the right for about 300m then turn right at the way-mark labelled 'Tas Valley Walk' and follow a line of oak trees across a field. Keep ahead into a second small field. Using the edges of this field with hedges on the right, go straight and then left at the way-mark to reach a low-lying area of trees and scrub. Turn right along its edge and shortly reach Catbridge Lane.

? Cross the lane, pass through a wooden gate, and continue along a pleasant path with tall straight trees on the left. After 250m the path meanders across an area known as 'The Carrs', crosses a footbridge and approaches a gentle hillside with mature oak trees. Ignore a path which goes off to the right and, instead, go ahead winding slightly leftwards past the oaks. Where the trees give way to a gently rising field on the right, continue for 90m then turn off to the right at an angle of roughly 45 degrees and cross a field. There is no way-mark and, currently, the line of the footpath has been ploughed out, but an alternative way is to continue a little further along the main Tas Valley path to the far left corner of the rising field then turn right and go up the field edge to the point where the correct path meets it.

? Both routes arrive at a hedge-line around a further field. Do not pass through but keep it on the left and walk along for 180m to arrive at a 'T' junction of footpaths and a post with faded way-marks. Turn left and follow the broad path which curves to the right around the boundaries of large houses, then narrows between tall hedges and arrives at an attractive small lake. Then fork right along a gravel drive. Swardeston Church tower comes into view on the left. Follow the driveway to the church gates and the war memorial which includes the name of Edith Cavell.

? From the church, go down the straight driveway to the main road. Cross carefully and enter Wood Lane opposite. Where the tarmac ends and the lane swings right, go left round the side of the last property and follow its boundary then a hedgerow for 275m with a large field to the right. Where the hedgerow turns sharply to the left, again without the help of a way-mark, strike off across the field at roughly a right angle following the well-trodden line. On reaching the hedge on the far side, turn left to emerge into Gowthorpe Lane opposite Hall Farm House. Turn right along the lane. Pass between Gowthorpe Manor, away to the left beyond a large pond, and Manor Cottages to the right.

? Further on, the lane bends right at Hall Green Cottages. Some 60m beyond the bend turn left into a broad byway (Hickling Lane) and enjoy the unfolding views. Pass a wood on the left then, having passed under electricity power lines, turn right into a field entrance where an illegible way-mark sign indicates the start of a bridleway going downhill towards distant houses. Keep the hedgerow on the left then, at the bottom of the hill, go straight ahead between houses into Church Road in Swainsthorpe. (To visit the attractive round-towered St.Peter's Church, turn left along the lane).

? Otherwise turn right and, taking advantage of the grass verges where possible, walk along the lane passing the distinctive one-time workhouse. Where the lane turns hard to the left, swing off to the right into a smaller lane then, almost immediately, take the sign-posted footpath on the left. This very wide, much-used path skirts the left edges of two large fields and is practically straight for a kilometre. Near the end is a low, broken stile, just beyond which the farm track curves to the left of a large barn. However, keep to the path which continues ahead down the right side of the barn, crosses a footbridge and enters the back of Mulbarton churchyard. Leave the churchyard via the stile or gate on the other side to complete the walk.


The Ramblers is Britain's walking charity which has been working to encourage more people to take up walking and to safeguard footpaths and the countryside for 75 years. Whether you're an old hand or a complete beginner, the organisation can help you get the best out of walking through its network of local groups.

The Norwich Group has been established for more than 35 years and was the first group in the Norfolk Area of the Ramblers Association.

Non-members are welcome to join all walks in national festivals and some special events and programmes. Most regular walks are intended for Ramblers members, but you are welcome to attend two or three walks on a try-out basis.

? For more information about the Ramblers' Association call 01508 538654 or visit: