Walk: Gentle stroll around historic Houghton Hall

The handsome Palladian house, Houghton Hall

The handsome Palladian house, Houghton Hall - Credit: Archant

We take a stroll around one of Norfolk's most famous stately homes with Peter James of Norfolk Rambers

The walk starts at a triangle of grass where the Peddars Way crosses the road 

Anmer Road 

Grid Reference TF 7578 2852 

Nearest postcode PE31 6UD 

What3words ///garden.vanilla.allowable 

The post code will not take you to the start as the nearest house is some distance away; the best way in is from the B1153 Lynn Road  

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4.7 miles 7.5km 

Houghton walk map

Houghton walk map - Credit: O/S

1 At the start of the walk, with the Peddars Way fingerpost that has a concrete post beside it behind you on the other side of the road, walk along the Peddars Way to find a new kissing gate on your left-hand side. Go through the gate and head across the field towards the far side where there is another new kissing gate*. Go through this and cross the road and take the track between wood stacks. Follow this track as it bears right and then left to emerge out of the woodland through a gate into an open meadow. Now head across the meadow towards a gate, which is just to the right of a very distinctive house with tall chimneys. Go through the gate and turn right onto a track. Follow this track as it bends left at a large barn and then bears right to a road. With the white gates of the lodge to Houghton Hall in front of you, turn right along the road with woodland on either side of the road. The woodland consists of various types of trees, chestnut, beech, pine and sycamore. 

The local landscape is littered with earth mounds from the Bronze Age

The local landscape is littered with earth mounds from the Bronze Age - Credit: Peter James

2 If visiting the hall turn left at the triangle and walk down the road to the main gate, returning the same way. For the main walk; at the next junction carry straight on alongside a large triangle of grass on your left, follow the road as it goes ahead slightly rightwards. Go past a road junction with a road on your right. At the next road junction, turn right onto a track and follow this to a bend in another road where you turn left onto a signed bridleway and walk with the hedge on your left along the well-defined path as it enters a wood. The path bends round to the right to emerge out of the wood and turn left down to a road. 

3 Go straight across the road and follow the path as it turns a short left and right to continue in the same direction. When this path meets the signed Peddars Way crossing in front of you turn right along Peddars Way back to the starting point. 

One of the new kissing gates installed by the King's Lynn Ramblers

One of the new kissing gates installed by the King's Lynn Ramblers - Credit: Peter James

*The kissing gates were funded by King’s Lynn Ramblers to replace two stiles that where broken working with the Houghton estate as this is a permissive path. 

Point of interest

HOUGHTON HALL

The hall is celebrating its 300th anniversary this year. When Sir Robert Walpole, Britain’s first Prime Minister, began construction he considered that the existing village was too close to the new building, so he has it moved. Today the new village of Houghton consists of two rows of white cottages that line The Street on the approach to the south gate. 

Walpole built the hall to impress, with no expense spared. The mansion’s Aislaby Stone cladding was quarried in Yorkshire and shipped to Norfolk. Today Houghton Hall is known as one of the finest Palladian houses in England. Walpole, however, was not the first to have an impact on the look of the local landscape. 

The estate and countryside surrounding Houghton Hall is peppered with prehistoric earthworks, Bronze Age burial mounds dating back 3,300 to 3,500 years. Many are not immediately obvious and their abundance only becomes clear on maps. Some appear as islands of isolated scrubby woodland. Others stand proud of the surrounding ground. The area is regarded as one of the most significant Bronze Age landscape sites in Norfolk. 

Traditional hedgerows still define the fields surrounding the estate. They are interrupted by numerous oak trees that grow along them at regular intervals. Houghton Hall offers an array of outdoor sculpture in its gorgeous gardens as well as indoor art exhibitions. 

Refresh yourself 

The Crown Inn, East Rudham 

Just three miles from Houghton Hall, this old country pub and restaurant is in the heart of the village, next to the large green. If you are an early bird, it has a breakfast menu, and if you are just looking for a sandwich to keep you going you can find it here.  

The Rose & Crown, Harpley 

Also not far from Houghton, the Rose & Crown is also a traditional pub with a good-looking menu and a two-for-one lunch club offer. Beer lovers will note that it is a former CAMRA West Norfolk Pub of the year winner and usually has five real ales to choose from, plus small batch craft lager.