Norfolk Walk: Bridgham Woods and West Harling Heath
- Credit: Archant
Norfolk Ramblers’ Peter James shows us a beautiful walk in Bridgham Woods and West Harling Heath
1. From the car park return to the West Harling Road, cross the road and walk along a clear track continuing your direction in front of you. When you come to a road turn right for about 200 yards then turn left on to a track along the inside edge of the forest skirting around a metal forestry barrier.
At a junction with a gate ahead, and a brown post with a yellow top and a line of pine trees off to your right, turn left along a sandy track called The Gallops. This broad, tree-lined avenue may have been part of a driveway to West Harling Hall, demolished in 1931, and is situated close to the present site of Berdewelle Hall Farm. You will pass a post with the number 79 on it pointing straight ahead; take that direction (number 78 goes off to the right). At the far end of a fenced-off open field you meet a crossing track where you turn right alongside its edge into woodland. (The open area was cleared from the forest to recreate the traditional Breckland landscape as it was before the forest was planted; it is grazed by sheep to encourage the heathland vegetation).
At the end of the open field with a gate on your right into the field, turn left into a broad sandy track. At the next crossing track turn right. (If you have a large dog, unable to manage stiles, instead of turning right continue straight ahead to the road, and follow the road to point 2).
As you exit the woodland at a crossing track, there is a green tank to your left (signed Half Moon Plantation), turn left into the track on the right-hand side of the tank, and continue to the end of the track, go around a metal barrier on to the road and turn right.
At the second curve in the road, (currently no fingerpost by the roadside) go sharply left heading to a gate and a stile; there is a waymark on the gate post. Follow the path between two hedge lines to another gate and stile. Go over the stile and continue your direction, along left field edges and over stiles to the road at Middle Harling. Turn left and continue until the road turns left.
2. As the road turns left go straight ahead along a driveway until the gateway to Berdewelle Hall Farm is reached; bear left on a signed path between wooden railings on one side and metal railings on the other side. Go across a track through a gate into a field towards All Saints Church, West Harling.
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The church has 13th century origins. Now lacking a village, it is in the care of the Historic Churches Trust, and open at weekends. From the church the path continues diagonally across the field, a waymark on the corner is visible. Cross a track, continuing on the same line towards a gap into the trees and follow the clear path through the forest to emerge at the Dower House Camp Site. The path continues ahead with the house on your left; it is then signed through the camp site, passing to the right of a small concrete building and briefly back into woodland. Cross a bridge, which at the time of writing was partially obstructed by a large fallen tree (but this did not cause undue difficulty).
The path then continues between fences across a field. At the far side go over a stile, with a dog gate, and turn right; soon at a corner go ahead on a footpath following left edges. The stiles have dog gates. The path bears gently left and eventually goes over stile into the bottom of a garden; bear a little to the right towards the remains of a stile to the left of a brick bridge.
3. Cross the stile and turn left along Bridgham Lane. Opposite the track from Stonehouse Farm turn right around a metal barrier onto a footpath along a field edge, (for a slightly shorter route back to the start you could continue along Bridgham Lane, but it does have occasional vehicular use). Follow the footpath then turn left on the first track.
Ignore the first junction of tracks with a fenced of paddock to your left, continue straight on to a junction of five tracks and turn left. At the end of fenced-off woodland turn right to walk along the fence line. At the end of the fenced-off area continue ahead across a track. At the next crossing track turn left and follow this back to the start of the walk and the parking area.
Bridgham Woods are a detached part of Thetford Forest and offer a variety of walking routes, long and short. These woods have long been open to the public and are now covered by the Access Land legislation so all the tracks, whether shown on the map or not, if within the Access boundaries, are generally available as footpaths and bridleways. The forest is a working environment and sections may sometimes be closed for safety reasons; usually it will be easy to find an alternative route.
Norfolk Ramblers welcomes new members. If you are interested in walking in the company of like-minded people, visit www.norfolkra.org.uk or call 07505 426750. For queries about this walk, phone 07905 565740.
Norfolk Ramblers has established a footpath working group to do some path cutting and general maintenance. We try to make sure that all the paths in these walks are fit to walk, but if you encounter a problem please tell us.
Contact Peter James at firstname.lastname@example.org; 07905 565740