First published in: The Times Click here to view a map for this walk in a new window
Met Office – hang your head in shame! Whatever happened to those balmy spring zephyrs and that blue sky you promised for North Norfolk? Whoever sent a grey sea fret to blur the sky and a cutting north wind to chill a walker’s marrow, you let them slip under your guard.
Disappointed, but nothing daunted, we donned the fleeces and thick trousers and set out across the parkland of Felbrigg Hall. The old Jacobean house, flint-built and packed ground to roof with windows, stood foursquare beyond its ha-ha, a solid block of country house in a park of magnificent trees.
Old oaks stood bowed by the years, knee-deep in their own fractured and barkless limbs. We measured the girth of one giant – thirty feet around the waist, its top hamper splinted by storms and truncated by the tree surgeon’s saw, still gamely putting forth ten thousand leaves each new spring.
Handsome black and tan cattle browsed the pastures where tiny calves bumped heads and matched high kicks with their siblings. A gaggle of greylag geese guarded four fluffy goslings in the rushy, marshy tail of Felbrigg pond.
All nature was about its business in the woods and fields around Felbrigg. Bluebells nodded in the wind, horse chestnut candles bobbed on their laden branches, and a heron flew up from the path, leaving behind a still-breathing frog with a neat crimson stab-hole at the base of its head.
South of Felbrigg Park we followed a green lane whose banks were spattered pink and white with campion and stitchwort. Now enormous prairie fields opened towards the round tower of Sustead Church, a monotonous dull green sea of corn with never a wild flower in it. But the indomitable skylarks still flew up from their nests hidden in the crop, singing as though all were all right with the world.
An aspen grove hissed in the wind at Glen Farm, where we turned for home through damp meadows of lush grass and sandy ploughlands where brown hares galloped the furrows. We stopped in at Metton’s little church of roughly knapped flint, and threaded more vast cornfields before the final stretch among incurious ewes and lambs at ease under the oaks of Felbrigg Park.
Start: Felbrigg Hall NT car park, near Cromer, Norfolk NR11 8PR (TG 195394)
Getting there: Felbrigg is signed off A148 Cromer-Fakenham road, just west of Cromer. Car park £3/day, NT members free.
Walk (6¾ miles, easy, OS Explorer 252): Follow track past Felbrigg Hall and on through park. At cattle grid (191395), left and follow Weavers Way/WW. In ¾ mile, right at road (186386); in 50m, left (WW) along byway. In ½ mile, left at road (180380). In 200m, left off WW across field. 150m short of far side, left (185375) on path to cross road (185376). Right (fingerpost) along field edges for ½ mile to road (194373). Right; in 250m, left (193371, WW) up farm drive. In ½ mile pass Glen Farm; in another 300m, yellow arrow/YA and WW on post point right (198362), but go LEFT here up grass path, north along fields for ¾ miles to Metton (199373). Cross road by church; ahead (stiles, YAs) across fields to north edge of Metton Carrs wood (198381). Ahead across fields to lane (199386, fingerpost). Ahead; in 450m, left (199390) past church to car park.
Lunch: NT café, Felbrigg Hall
Accommodation: Gunton Arms, Gunton Park, Thorpe Market, Norfolk NR11 8TZ (01263-832010, theguntonarms.co.uk)
Felbrigg Hall: 01263-837444; nationaltrust.org.uk
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