The Massingham Strollers is a walking group, arranging regular Sunday morning rambles around the many footpaths in the area. Anyone can join in, and visitors are most welcome. We usually meet at The Village Well on the green but details of the next walk are published in The Mallard, and on the Great Massingham.net website, each month.
Some of the walks are published as a guide, with map and route details. These may be downloaded and printed by clicking on the guide no.
A Cold Stroll
On a bitterly cold morning on Sunday 21st, January four strollers set off from the Village Well. We walked up Barracks Yard lane and made our way over the hard rutted path frequented by local dog walkers. At the top of the field, we turned right and joined the start of Green Gate lane. This took us past the radio masts and water tower where some major construction work was underway. When we reached Peddar’s Way the three old strugglers turned left to take a shorter and easier route to Drunken Drove and back into the village whereas the “weak and female” member of our group turned right and disappeared into the mist as she strode off to reach Harpley. Needless to say, she reached the Rose and Crown in Harpley before we had managed to get back to the Well.
With the aid of cars, we all managed to meet up at the Rose & Crown where we received a warm welcome and ate an excellent Sunday lunch.
Our next walk, weather, ‘flu and mobility permitting, will take place on Sunday 25th February. Route and venue to be decided.
A Frosty Christmas Stroll
The 17th December saw ten strollers set off from the Well for a short walk at 10.30 am. Our route took us up Mad Dog Lane, entirely suitable for our two canine friends, Bridgette and Reggie. Reaching Peddar’s Way it was decided to take the shorter route back to the village via Greengate Lane and the radio masts.
The weather was ideal for our Christmas walk with white, frosty fields and misty views over the hills. We arrived back in plenty of time for our Christmas lunch at the Dabbling Duck.
The quiz this year was “organised” by Robin. An almost impossible task with a table booked for fourteen now having to seat sixteen and most of us unable to hear/understand the questions. Robin introduced a new concept with the replacement of a Joker card by a Trump card the playing of which lost a team points. The losing team were then given a large picture of Donald Trump!
The walk, the lunch and the quiz were most enjoyable.
A Walk on the Wild Side!
On Sunday 22nd October the Foolish Five set off from the Well for their monthly walk. Storm Brian was making the headlines, but undeterred we braved the wind and struggled up Walcups Lane and then, quite appropriately, along Mad Dog Lane. Reaching Peddar’s Way, clearly signposted, we were faced with a choice of routes. Noticing gathering rain clouds to the west and realising turning to the east we would have the wind at our backs we turned left along Peddar’s Way.
With occasional sightings of a Red Kite or buzzard we continued until we came to the end of Greengate Lane which took us past the radio masts and water tower, recently secured to prevent public access. The three “old codgers” passed their time reminiscing about their boyhood adventures in the countryside and lamenting the lack of outdoor freedom for many children in today’s smart phone social media world.
We finished the day with an excellent Sunday lunch at the Dabbling Duck. Our next walk will probably be on Sunday 26th November.
More Talking than Walking!
On Sunday 30th June a select few strollers met at 10.30 am at the Well. Our route was to take us along Mad Dog Lane and then left at Little Massingham Road. We turned left onto Peddars Way and left again along Greengate Lane past the water tower and back down Walcups Road. You’ve got it – a short circular walk!
As our walk was fairly easy and there being no danger of getting lost most of our energy was spent talking. I hope you noticed the difference after we put the world to rights!
The weather held fine for us and we sat down to an excellent lunch at the Dabbling Duck as the rain began. How’s that for organisation?
Our next walk, which might be a little more adventurous, will be on Sunday 17th September.
Taking the Easy Way
On Sunday 21st May six strollers started their walk from Cross’s Grave to East Rudham. We had been taken to the cross roads by car thus avoiding the steep hill. It was pointed out that Cross’s Grave in no way related to Vic as he was still alive and kicking! If anybody can enlighten me as to the derivation of the name please do.
The narrow lane was, for the most part, quite peaceful until scores of cyclists streamed past. Apparently bicycle bells are no longer fashionable! With oak trees and ash trees on either side and lush verges bordering the lane it all seemed quite idyllic. We eventually arrived at Pockthorpe where we took advantage of the picnic table by the pond (see picture). Here one of our number returned with her dog to collect her car.
After handing over some litter collected on route to a local resident, we continued our stroll past the village hall and primary school. We noticed that, although the village hall was new, the gates were locked and there was no sign of life. How different to our own village hall which may need some TLC but is always busy!
We arrived at our destination, The Crown Inn, where we were joined by three non-walkers and enjoyed a relaxing drink and a good Sunday lunch.
The next Strollers will be on Sunday 18th June; the route to be decided later.
The Common Lot
On Sunday 23rd April eight strollers met at the Well for their monthly walk. The route took us down and up Sandy Lane crossing the B1145 and walking up onto Massingham Common. Songs of blackcaps, chaffinches and robins accompanied our walk and Greater Stichwort and Garlic Mustard (“Jack by the Hedge”), bordered the track.
Our group split into walkers and strugglers which resulted in some confusion but, with the aid of mobile phones, we all met up again at Shepherd’s Bush at the junction of the Castle Acre Road and Peddar’s Way. Here the two strugglers were collected and taxied back to Massingham while the rest continued down Peddar’s Way and back to Massingham via Drunken Drove.
We all eventually met up again at the Dabbling Duck for Sunday Lunch. For many of us the walk was touched with poignancy as we remembered Suzanne Butterworth who was a regular Stroller over many years before her recent death.
Our next walk will be on Sunday 21st May.
Strollers Put on the Stile!
On Sunday 26th February the Strollers met at the Well and then drove down to the Dogotel at Harpley Dams. From there we crossed the A148 without losing anyone and made our way up Peddars Way. This is a long climb which the less fit found quite a challenge. Our route involved climbing over two stiles which saw your writer ending ungraciously amongst the molehills.
With no lasting damage to report we crossed the Anmer road and entered the wood on the other side. This provided a pleasing contrast to the open views with the late winter sun breaking through the canopy above. Emerging from the trees we were greeted by the charming sight of “Gingerbread Cottage” as some called the small cottage facing us. We followed the track which led us out onto the Houghton/Bircham Road. At this point some of us were collected by “International Rescue” and driven back to Massingham. The rest of our crew continued walking to complete the circle back at Harpley Dams.
Eventually we all met up at the Rose and Crown for Sunday lunch , numbering fourteen, or was it thirteen, in all.
Our next walk will take place in April; the date and route to be decided later.
The Great Strollers New Year’s Walk & Quiz.
On 8th January 2017 fourteen strollers met at the Well for their first walk of 2017. The walk was quite short so we set off just after 10 am. The route took us round the airfield, up Mad Dog Lane, along Peddar’s Way to Drunken Drove and back into the village. At various points there were escape routes for those of us who needed it, but the majority completed the whole route in good time for lunch at the Dabbling Duck which had been booked for 12.30.
Our numbers increased to nineteen which caused some difficulty as I had miscounted and had only booked for seventeen. With some major furniture removal by the helpful staff we all settled down to a good lunch. In the ensuing shuffle I ended up sitting next to Ron, a visitor to the village, and discovered that he and his wife first set up home in the same small cul-de-sac in Reading where Rosemary and I began our married life a few years later. Ron was also impressed by the community spirit he had discovered evident in our village. This was certainly on show during the afternoon.
The Christmas Quiz, a Strollers tradition, re-enforced Ron’s opinion. Mike Jackson was our quizmaster and did a splendid job in the face of misunderstanding, misreading, inattention and mischief. All reminiscent of a bored class of fourteen year olds on a Friday afternoon! All was done with a sense of fun, however, and we went home happy for a well- earned snooze.
Our next walk will be on Sunday 19th February.
Walking with Rainbows
Sunday 27th November six strollers met at the Well for their walk over Massingham Heath to Gayton. As we walked, the sun broke through and we were treated to the vision of a rainbow over Grimston Heath as dark clouds and a fine drizzle encroached. Fortunately, after a slight shower, blue skies returned giving us excellent views over the valleys on either side.
We saw very little wildlife but paused to marvel at the splendid beech trees along the lane leading to Gayton Workhouse. We also did some much needed litter picking as we went along! The pot of gold at the end of our rainbow was the Crown Inn where we tucked into the hot Sunday buffet.
The next Strollers is on Sunday January 8th . It will be a short stroll of about four miles finishing at the Dabbling Duck for lunch and our traditional Strollers Quiz.
See you in 2017. Andrew Bickerton
To the Brink and Back
The 23rd October Strollers’ walk took us up Drunken Drove where we turned right onto Peddars Way. On reaching Lynn Lane we made our way to the green road across Massingham Heath.
We ascended the hill up to Jordan’s Wood where a deserted cottage hides among the trees. We then took the path leading south to Brink Hill and the tall radio masts which were originally part of the defences for RAF Massingham.
The sandy area is ideal for Vipers Bugloss to grow spectacularly in the summer and one bedraggled specimen still remained. We then made our way down the hill towards the B1145 admiring the view and the tranquility that this area provides as we walked along.
On our return journey, a Red Kite was spotted over West Heath Farm as we made our way to our final stop, at the Dabbling Duck, for a very welcome lunch.
Up, Down & Round to Harpley
Our September walk was a circular walk from Massingham to Harpley, back to Harpley for lunch and then back again to Massingham. Our route took us up Mad Dog Lane but we saw no ‘Englishmen in the mid-day sun’.
We then walked down Peddar’s Way to ‘Cocky Hoop’. Here we took the path along the field edge to Low Road. Having paused briefly for refreshment we then climbed up the hill on the other side. When we eventually got to the top we paused to catch our breath and admire the views. We followed the path down into Harpley where three of us waited to be rescued.
The fitter and more determined continued up the hill to Harpley Mill and then back down to the Gate House, up again past the turkey farm and finally down into Massingham. Whoever said that Norfolk is flat!
Eventually we all met up at the Rose and Crown in Harpley where after a warm welcome we enjoyed an excellent Sunday lunch.
By the time you read this we will have completed our October stroll. Our next walk, however, takes place on Sunday 20th November, route and venue to be decided.
Old paths with new faces…
On Sunday 28th August nine strollers met at the Well for a short circular walk. The route was a familiar one up Greengate Lane, along Peddars Way to Nut Wood where we followed the path through Home Farm, Little Massingham and then back to Great Massingham via Mad Dog Lane, in all about 4 miles. Our party consisted of old friends and new as well as two dogs and being a relatively short walk we were all able to complete it.
The weather was kind and the only hazard was a huge puddle at the junction of Peddars Way and the Little Massingham road. We have had unfortunate experiences with this puddle in the past but we all managed to negotiate a muddy bank without incident. (I had my camera ready to record the disaster for inclusion in The Mallard and the website– perhaps next time).
We arrived back at the Dabbling Duck for lunch where we were joined by three non-walkers. It was the Family Fun Day at the pub but I managed to resist the pleasure of the Bouncy Castle!
Our next walk will be on Sunday 25th September when the plan is to walk round Harpley and dine at the Rose and Crown but you know what they say about plans…
Along the Nar Valley Way Again
Sunday 17th July saw eight Strollers assemble at the Well. Five were driven to the West Lexham turn to walk to Castle Acre via Newton and three us joined them later to walk from Castle Acre to West Acre. Here we were met by four non walkers to lunch at the Stag Inn.
The weather was ideal for a Sunday stroll with sunshine all the way and a cooling breeze. Our walk took us along the river side with reed beds scented by blossoms of Meadowsweet. Butterflies, dragonflies and electric blue damselflies added to our delight along with the tinkling songs of goldfinches feeding on the purple thistles. A special delight was the marsh orchids growing beside the path. With so much to see our progress was slow but “What is this life, if full of care, we have no time to stand and stare”.
After entering the shade of the woods we crossed the Nar where the ghosting trout were loitering. Unfortunately, all such delights have to end but not before we enjoyed the excellent lunch provided at The Stag washed down with a cool pint or two.
Our next stroll is, hopefully, on Sunday 22nd August. Everyone is welcome.
Strolling By Numbers
After seeing a wonderful production of ‘Don Quixote’ in Stratford I had the bright idea that our May walk should be around Bircham windmill. It was a very complicated process this time establishing who was walking, who was going to eat at the pub, how we were going to be transported to the King’s Head car park and so much more.
When the day of the walk dawned on the 22nd May, more by good luck than judgement, we all arrived at Great Bircham in good time. The weather was much better than had been forecast and twelve of us set off on our walk which took us through varied landscapes, including a few hills and lanes with banks of hedge parsley and hawthorn blossom.
The highlights were seeing an oystercatcher on a gate protecting its brood that was busy in the field behind and a large golden brown dragonfly sunning itself on a hedge. Three of us plus a dog were ‘rescued’ half way round and two of us then visited Bircham Windmill for a rest and a cool drink while the others steadfastly continued the longer than usual walk. Lunch was set for 12.45 and most of us arrived on time.
However, three of our group were missing and in fact had got lost. They eventually arrived and we could relax and enjoy an excellent well-deserved Sunday lunch.
Going to the Dogs!
On Sunday 24th April eight strollers set off for a circular walk down to the Dogotel and back. The weather forecast was discouraging with the typical English weather set to be typically untypical for late April. Undeterred we set off with Reggie in company up Walcups Lane and along Mad Dog Lane to join Peddar’s Way. Although the wind was cold there was no sign of rain and we had some bright moments of sun.
After about 500 yards we took the track to the left, walking along a field’s edge with fine views to the south and the songs of skylarks overhead. We next made our way to “Violet Lane”, a lovely shaded path but, unfortunately no violets. At the end of this path we stopped for a brief rest before descending the old Setch Road which leads to the rear of the Dogotel business. We were half-way down when a sharp hail shower hit us but as soon as it came it went and we were once more in sunshine. When we eventually reached our destination some of us decided to call in “International Rescue” in the form of a lift back to base while the rest of us trudged up Peddar’s Way, past Clark’s Farm to rejoin Mad Dog Lane, a very appropriate name in the circumstances.
Lunch was taken at the Dabbling Duck by the end of which the predicted rains arrived. Attached is a picture of some of the walkers including Reggie the dog who must have walked the equivalent of twenty miles on his little legs!
Our next walk will be on Sunday 26th June..
Easter Sunday, March 2016
Walking from Hel – Houghton and back.
Our walk on Easter Sunday was quite a challenge! There were no steep hills, raging blizzards or long distances but getting everyone in the right place and at the correct time was like herding cats in a sheep dog trials. Our venue was Sculthorpe Mill and we were to start our walk from Helhoughton. It being Easter Day, the pub was extremely busy and we had our lunch booked for 12 noon. We were meeting three “Lynnites” at Helhoughton so the Massingham Strollers were to assemble at the Well at 9.15 am in order to get over to Helhoughton in time to walk the four miles to Sculthorpe Mill. By 9.30 we were two members short. Had they remembered to put their clocks forward last night…? Eventually the prodigal two were collected and off we set.
The weather forecast was for strong winds and heavy rain around lunch time. Storm Katie was approaching! Would we make the Mill before it arrived? Fortunately, we were sheltered most of the way; the sun was shining and everywhere was full of the promise of spring. There are delightful walks in this part of Norfolk and we had the River Tatt to accompany us. I would recommend this area for a walk or a drive with charming churches and varied views and Raynham Park Station to surprise and delight. But do take a map! I had reconnoitred the route previously but still managed to make a wrong turn. If Pete, who knew the area very well, and Ken who had been born and brought up in Helhoughton hadn’t been with us we would have ended up on the main road to Fakenham.
We actually arrived on time and met up with our non-walkers at the Mill. Storm Katie hadn’t arrived; instead nice Katie, Peter and Carol’s grand-daughter, joined us with great grandson Jacob. We settled down to an excellent Sunday lunch just as the rain came down – perfect!
Our next walk will be on Sunday 24th April – route and venue to be decided. If you like a walk and enjoy good company with the prospect of Sunday lunch in one the many good hostelries, why not join us?
The First Stroll of 2016 On 21st February
Thirteen Strollers went on the first walk since December. The weather forecast was very uncertain so we kept the distance to 4.4 miles and our route took us on roads and lanes for easier walking. We left the Well at about 9.40 and made our way through the village to the Rudham junction. Here we were caught up by two of our members from the big city of Lynn and then we made our way up to the turkey farm and down the lane to the old railway gate house.
We decided to take the high road and climbed the hill to Cross’s Grave. Who said that Norfolk is flat! We then turned right walking down hill towards the other gate house, near the Grange farm entrance. This route by the gorse bushes and pines is reputedly where flocks of Goldcrests can be seen. (John M take note!) At the corner we stopped for a breather and then our party split into two groups, some cutting across to the Raynham Road and the rest of us turning right back to the first gatehouse and up to the turkey farm again. Here we all met up and walked back into Massingham, causing a few traffic hold-ups on the way.
The weather had been unseasonably mild and, although quite windy, there was no rain and the sun made a valiant effort to break through the cloud cover. Our walk was made more pleasurable by the songs of Song Thrushes, Robins and Dunnocks and we were also treated to the sight of a number of brown hares running and sparring over the fields. The hawthorn was also coming into leaf in places.
Our walk ended at the Rose and Crown, Harpley, where most of us feasted on the excellent roast lunches.
The next Strollers will probably be on Sunday 20th March but it could be on Easter Sunday.
“Walking Backwards to Christmas”
With a strong wind to face the Strollers, like The Goons, might have done better by walking backwards. But as the walk on Sunday 6th December was a short one we managed to complete the walk in good time without anyone being blown away. We were also spurred on by the thought of the roast dinner that awaited us at the Dabbling Duck.
Our walk took us up Drunken Drove, along Peddars Way until we reached Green Gate Road and then back into Massingham. Along the way one of our group found an abandoned crash helmet but we found no sign of the owner or his/her motor bike. It’s extraordinary what some people discard!
Having enjoyed our meal we then had the excitement of our annual Christmas Quiz. Some of us took it more seriously than others. For instance in answer to the question “Where is Shepherd’s Bush?” (the corner at the top of Castle Acre Hill), one of our number wrote “Down the shepherd’s pants”!
There will be no Strollers in January 2016