A Taste of England’s Rich History: The Norfolk Adventure
North Norfolk feels like the part of England Blake’s Jerusalem talks of with the lyric ‘England’s green and pleasant lands’. Although serious flaws have been highlighted with the lyrics of the song itself, this particular line seems accurate enough. The county is vastly untouched by business and grotesque concrete sculptures which seem to dominate our cities. This quaint and rural part of our country should be savoured, a last bastion of an older era of England.
Towns and villages have curious names. Little Walsingham is, in fact, larger than Great Walsingham and has more religious significance of the two villages. The only explanation I can find for this linguistic quirk is that Great Walsingham is the older village.
The sleepy village of Great Snoring, as well as raising a smile amongst visitors, is home to a library encased in a red phone box. After being decommissioned in 2011, the phone box was restored and reopened with a new and unique purpose in 2013. As with many buildings in the area, the phone box is a listed building; the listed status of many buildings in this area of Norfolk has helped preserve its traditional old-world appearance.
A View Overhead
When I visited Walsingham in late August this year, the skies overhead were clear. Out in the countryside the air is free of the pollution found in inner-city areas. At night, the skies filled with hundreds of stars. A field between the deceptively large Little Walsingham and Houghton St Giles gave the best vantage point to watch shooting stars pass overhead. I was awestruck.
The constellations that filled the skies over Norfolk were spectacular; I could make out Orion and watched in amazement as shooting stars crossed in the blackness. Over the course of four clear nights, I was treated to several spectacular displays from the night sky and saw more shooting stars than in the whole of the rest of my life.
Getting some miles in
The clear skies result from the unpolluted air which has another obvious benefit. Walking miles through the Norfolk countryside left me feeling invigorated, in no small part due to the fresher, cleaner air. I ran from Little Walsingham, out toward Houghton St Giles before returning to Walsingham down the ‘Holy Mile’ – so called due to the pilgrimage leading to the shrine. In thirty minutes of running, I saw just a handful of vehicles and gained an appreciation for just how tranquil a place this really is.
With the Bury 10k just a few weeks away, I was keen to run and walk as much as possible. Wearing a pedometer for much of the time, I clocked up well over 23,000 steps on the Saturday of my long weekend, much more than I manage on an average day at home. Why would you take the car when walking gives you time to drink in the gorgeous surroundings?
Why would you take the car when walking gives you time to drink in such gorgeous surroundings?