Walk: stroll around Holt Country Park and Baconsthorpe Castle
- Credit: Archant
Peter James of Norfolk Ramblers, takes us for a walk near the pretty town of Holt
Where: olt Country Park and Baconsthorpe Castle
Distance: 8.5 miles.
Reference: TG0812 3759
Post code: NR25 6SP
1. Park on the main car park, accessed from the B1149, where there is a visitor centre and toilets. Start with your back to the visitor centre and walk across the car park to find a large wooden post with the circular walks waymark arrows on and a carving of mushrooms at the top. Follow the blue arrows along the path through the woods.
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When the path gets close to a pond, bear round to the left following the blue arrow and fork right at the next junction along a broad straight path. Go through a gap between gate posts (gate missing) and cross a track; continue ahead and at the next T-junction turn right, then bend round to the left with the path, cross another track with a metal gate on your right. Continue ahead, turn right and out onto the Hempstead Road. Carry on along the road, over a stream and pass two old flint buildings on your left, a former mill. As the road rises, pass Hawksmere on your left; at the top of the hill as the road bends round to the left, turn right onto a signed track along a field edge.
At a junction of fields bear a little to the right then to the left, just before going under power lines. Walk down the left edge of the field with the power lines on your right. Follow the path towards Hempstead Hall past a pond on your left and over a stile and continue towards farm buildings.
Follow a track to the left then to the right, passing the entrance of Hempstead Hall. Keep to the driveway; ignore a path on the left just past a house, then, opposite a bungalow with a long leylandii hedge, turn right over a footbridge to a field path. As it approaches some trees cross a ditch to the right, continue ahead for a short distance, bear round to the right along the field edge and then bend left to All Saints Church, Hempstead.
This delightful little church has its origins in the 11th century and every century up to the 20th has made some alteration or addition. The tower, no taller than the rest of the church, is just attached by one corner. Continue (either inside or outside the churchyard) to a road and turn left.
2. As the road curves to the left, and just beyond a terrace of very attractive cottages, turn right through a gap beside a field gate. Continue to a road, cross into a field and turn right along the field edge adjacent to the road.
As the water tower comes into view, at a crossing field boundary turn left along the field edge with the hedge on your right; continue along the field edge to a corner. Go through a gap and turn right along a hedged path, then a field edge to a tarmac lane with Strawberry Patch on your left and further over to the left Beckett’s Farm.
Cross the track and continue ahead along a hedged lane. Turn left along Hall Lane to Hall Farm and Baconsthorpe Castle. Turn right, then left through the car park and into the castle. With a moat on three sides and a mere on the eastern side, the setting is idyllic for this fortified manor house, built in the 15th century by the Heydon family. Within 200 years financial difficulties forced its partial demolition and sale of the stone for building materials. The ruins are now in the care of English Heritage and it is open at all reasonable times and there are informative display panels outlining the history.
3. Emerging from the castle turn left out of the car park along the access track. Just before a bend and a cattle grid turn right over a footbridge, and then go ahead bearing a little to the left. In a corner go over a footbridge and continue following field edges to the right and left and out to a road in Baconsthorpe. Turn briefly right, then left along a minor road, Long Lane, with the old Post Office on your left and a post box, and telephone box on the right.
Turn right at a road T-junction by a water tower. Continue for just over half a mile, ignoring a road junction on the right and a crossing footpath to a junction with a track marked as a private road and two rights of way. Turn half right across an open field heading for the lower end of Back Lane where you will find wooden steps down the bank to the lane. Go down the steps (backwards with care) into Back Lane.
4. Turn left and at the junction with a minor road turn right along the minor road. Continue to the road T-junction of Marlpit Lane and Pond Hills Road. Go straight across into a track with Church Farm in front of you to the right. Beyond a short section along the track the path goes ahead across an open field; a gap is visible ahead. Go through and over a stile, turn right and soon left to follow field edges. At a large square barn turn left and at the end of the barn turn right to follow Mill House Lane.
As the lane descends into a meadow, turn left at the bottom of the hill, and keep to the main path as it turns to the right to cross the River Glaven. At the top of the hill keep ahead and as the path meets the road bear a little to the right to keep more or less parallel with the road.
At junctions, when in doubt go to the left in order to keep close to the road. On re-entering the country park the route is straight wider and very clear and eventually meets the entrance to the car park where you turn right back towards the visitor centre.
Holt Country Park
Holt Country Park is only a short distance south of Holt. It has several waymarked trails including a sculpture trail and on its own is well worth of a visit. An attractive informative leaflet is available free, direct from Norfolk County Council (phone 01603 222769) or for a small charge from tourist information centres etc. It shows all the trails, a walkers’ route from Holt town centre and additional walks in the wider countryside which overlap with this one – inevitably when devising walks from the same footpath network similar routes arise, although several variations are possible through the Park. This walk could easily be divided into two, both via Hempstead, the eastern segment starting from Baconsthorpe Castle - also well worth a visit, even without the walk.