Churches on the Burlingham Woodland Walks
This article focuses on the circular walk via South Walsham. The route is approximately 5.5 miles long and the paths are well established and, due to the level terrain, easy to walk.
The routes start and finish in the free car park next to St Andrew’s Church, North Burlingham which is just off the A47 between Norwich and Great Yarmouth.
This is a grand church, with an imposing tower which dates from the 15th century. You enter the church through a lovely Romanesque south doorway and are greeted with one of the latest medieval roodscreens in the country, unfortunately the saint’s faces have been defaced but the work is still impressive. Once inside the church make sure to look up and take in the wonderful hammerbeam nave roof with angels.
In the tower arch there is a fine medieval screen which was transferred from nearby ruins of St Peter’s. There are also wall paintings of St Christopher and the martyrdom of Thomas Beckett.
Having visited St Andrew’s it is straight forward to follow paths that take you through Church Plantation and Drive Plantation. Once through the wood a 10-minute walk along the road takes you into Jary’s Wood containing Burlingham House. Adam’s Wood follows on directly and you emerge beside Hemblington Hall. Another short walk takes you to All Saints Church in Hemblington.
This is a beautiful little church with a round tower and, inside on the north wall, features wonderful wall paintings of St Christopher, the patron saint of travellers. There is also an impressively colourful and interesting font.
After the church it is back on the road to South Walsham, passing through Town Green Wood. Local amenities include a pub and Fairhaven Woodland and Water Garden which has a sensory garden and boat trips on South Walsham Broad.
Between the pub and Fairhaven Woodland and Water Garden keep an eye out for the unusual South Walsham churches.
This is an example of two churches sharing the same churchyard (St Mary’s and St Lawrence), being on the same piece of consecrated ground, probably the result of multiple manors within the village, each of which wanted its own church.
St Lawrence’s Church was severely damaged by fire in 1827. The church was reopened in 1832, with the two parishes combining in 1889. In 1971 the tower was struck by lightning, collapsing shortly afterwards as a result of a sonic boom from a passing aircraft.
St Lawrence’s Church has now been restored and is used by the parish for services and community use. The ruins of the tower are now surrounded by beautiful scented garden.
In contrast to St Lawrence’s, St Mary’s Church remains as a grand parish church, with 15th-century tower, clerestory aisles and porch making it look bigger than it is. There are also some fine examples of stained glass.
Having visited the churches, it is back on the trail, passing through Hare Fen Wood and Austin’s Wood before coming across Long Plantation, a thin wood approximately half a mile long. The next stage is a path in the field adjacent to the B1100.
The choice is then to turn east towards Belt Plantation and then Millennium Wood and back to the car park or turn west towards Acle.
If you do decide to visit Acle make sure to visit this pretty 12th-century round tower church with thatched roof. Inside there is a light and airy Nave and Chancel, a colourful font with a suspended cover and a complete roodscreen, roof and loft.
Having visited the church, you will need to retrace your steps and pass through Belt Plantation and Millennium Wood and back to the car park.
For a full walking map please visit Norfolk County Council website for the Burlingham Woodland Walks Map, guidebook and interactive map.