Norfolk Walk: Long Stratton, Tharston and Tasburgh
PUBLISHED: 09:02 29 March 2013 | UPDATED: 09:02 29 March 2013
Once away from the busy A140 road, this pleasant walk from Sue Aldis and Rod Webster is mainly along quiet country lanes and footpaths. For those interested, the walk passes by or goes close to four village churches, all open daily, and an ancient earthwork. The return leg uses a section of Boudica's Way.
LONG STRATTON, THARSTON AND TASBURGH
Start: Free car park in Swan Lane, Long Stratton.
Map: Explorer 237 G/R TM197927
Distance: 7.5 miles
Public Transport: Long Stratton is on a bus route from Norwich.
Timetables: 0871 2002233, www.travelineeastanglia.co.uk
St Mary’s at Tharston is in an intensely rural landscape. The church sits high and the lane leading up to it curves around the graveyard, a sign of an ancient site. It is built in the Perpendicular style and dates from the 13th to the 15th century. The tower, east and west sides feature flint flushwork. Inside the church are a number of fine 17th century monuments and a 15th century font carved with lions and flowers.
St Mary the Virgin at Tasburgh was built between 1050 and 1100 within an ancient earthwork. All that remains of the original building is the round tower, an external feature of which is the double row of blind arches and, internally, the tower arch and wall of the nave. The original nave was demolished in the late 1300’s and a larger one built. Opposite is a large earthwork, possibly an Iron Age hill fort, now owned by The Norfolk Archaeological Trust. The site, with information boards, is open to the public.
St Michael’s at Stratton St. Michael, a quiet simple country church, lies on a narrow country lane just off the A140. It has a slightly truncated tower with a jaunty little bell turret. Inside is a 15th century font.
St Mary’s in Long Stratton, also with a round tower, exhibits the famous Sexton’s Wheel displayed in a glass case near the back of the church. Made of iron, it revolves on a spindle. Its exact function is not entirely certain, but it seems to have been used to determine which day of the week parishioners would start a fast. There are only two of these wheels in the country.
There are several opportunities for refreshments in Long Stratton.
■ Leave the car park and turn right to the main road. Turn left and walk uphill along the pavement for about a quarter of a mile. Immediately before the allotments, turn left at the finger post onto a field edge path. Keep on this downhill path crossing two plank bridges and on to an enclosed green track. Continue ahead onto a concrete path through the sewage works. There was building work taking place but the pedestrian route was clearly signposted. Keep on this path to reach a lane (Picton Road) and turn right. Turn right again at the next junction into Hall Road. Then turn left into Hall Lane opposite Tharston Hall (which dates back to the1590’s and is built in the Jacobean style). Walk uphill to Tharston Church.
■ Then keep ahead along the lane past the junction with Church Road on the left. At the next junction keep right along Parkes Lane. There are lovely views in all directions along this road. The lane goes gently downhill for about three-quarters of a mile towards Low Tharston. Turn right onto a muddy bridleway opposite ‘High View’. After a few hundred metres turn left at the marker post along a wooded track to reach a road (B1135). Turn right along the road, and then turn left at the junction opposite Hall Farm (signed to Lower Tasburgh). Cross the ford and soon turn right at the junction. Walk uphill to Tasburgh Church with the earthwork opposite.
■ Keep ahead to the junction and turn right, now joining Boudica’s Way. Keep along this road through Upper Tasburgh to reach the A140 road. Cross carefully and turn right, then turn left into Fairstead Lane. After a long quarter of a mile, turn right opposite Lime Tree Farm onto a track (signed to Fairstead Farm). Just before the farmhouse bear right, keeping on the track for a short distance. By a ‘Private’ sign, climb the stile on the right.
■ Walk over the crest of the meadow and go downhill to a marker post by a wide bridge over a stream. Cross the bridge and go through the gate. Cross the water meadow keeping close to the left-hand boundary and over a small brick and earth bridge. At the marker post keep leftwards across the meadow to the track. Turn left and keep on the track to the road (B1135). Turn right and walk along the road for about 200m. Then turn left at the finger post along a field edge track which eventually becomes a green lane. At the lane (Church Lane), leave Boudica’s Way and turn right to reach Stratton St Michael Church.
■ Turn left into the churchyard and leave through a metal gate behind the church. Cross the meadow to a stile opposite. Turn left along the field edge to reach a lane. Turn right along the lane, crossing Rhees Green, to the junction with Edge’s Lane. Turn left then immediately right along Mill Lane. Go over the stile on the right and along the right meadow edge to another stile with a plank bridge. Turn left and cross another plank bridge. Turn right along the field edge path with the ditch on the right. Continue ahead into a muddy green lane which becomes a tarmac footpath (Star Lane). Keep ahead to the main road in Long Stratton. To visit St Mary’s Church, turn left along the pavement. Otherwise, cross the A140 road into Swan Lane back to the car park.
JOIN THE RAMBLERS
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: www.ramblers.org.uk