REVIEW: 27 October, 2020
Paths Less Traveled Walk

Just before the latest lockdown, we were able to enjoy our ‘Path less traveled' (sic, LINK) walk: a collection of routes which for various reasons are not often included in our itineraries. In spite of an adverse weather forecast, all 12 who had booked set off from The Neatherd in light rain, which, against predictions, soon stopped and then held off until the last few yards some 2½ hours later.
Neatherd Moor
Notwithstanding the walk’s theme, the initial part of the walk took us along the familiar territory of Shillings Lane, on to Restricted Byway 28, then to pass north of Etling Green and on along the section beyond Rookery Farm and down to Gooch’s Cottages. This section was, until a few years ago, all but impassable by the Farm, subject to considerable overgrowth, and ‘enjoying’ shoulder high nettles just before it emerged on to Mowles Road. Following a Sunday morning session with a chain saw and other complementary equipment, the route has been open ever since, though most years needing attention to keep the nettles down. Apart from this growth, another reason why it has been little used is because Mowles Road is a fast (derestricted) and bendy road without a footway, so is not an enticing walk (there is a field edge which offers a safe passage, but there is no right to use it).

So we retraced our steps beyond the Farm, then to diverge across the field to Etling Green - a route made most welcoming by the perfect actions of the landholder in making a clear path through his field.
Crossing field
At the end of the field, we followed the path through the garden of Number 3 to come out on Etling Green. We have been asking Norfolk County Council to put some waymarks up here to assure walkers that they have the right to follow the path through the garden (a route known and accepted by the householder).

We crossed the northern part of the Green - the path there doesn’t manage to follow the legal line, but as it’s open space, that isn’t a problem.
Etling Green
Then we made our way around the edge of the southern part of the Green, on the far side of what used to be the A47 before the bypass was built. Our path then took us up and across the current A47 - here a dual carriageway, but with a break in the central reservation barriers which allowed us to cross safely in two groups of 6.

On the other side, a cross field path had not been re‑established after ploughing, so made for rather soft and sticky going, though fortunately there hadn’t been enough recent rain to make it really difficult (though we were all an extra inch taller when we reached the road!).

Continuing south, we crossed further fields to reach one of the more recently established Restricted Byways, the course of the former Cherry Lane; here we turned east. Had we, as we were legally entitled to do, followed Restricted Byway 3, it would have taken us across a field to reach the track connecting Dumpling Green with Mattishall Road. But the byway has long (and unlawfully) been ploughed out, and we continue to press Norfolk County Council to reinstate it or establish an acceptable diversion. We took an unofficial diversion down to the track, then headed back towards Dumpling Green,
Muddy track
turning north up Footpath 25 (Green Lane) and on to the bridge across the A47.

From here, we followed the Restricted Byway that runs west parallel to the A47. It’s not the most pleasant route, receiving lots of litter from the layby on the dual carriageway: we have tried to persuade Highways England and the other authorities to take action to stop this, but without success so far. This track reaches the Greens Road Industrial Estate, which we left along the shared cycle track and footway to Greenfield Road.

We passed the building site for the new estate being constructed, but focused our attention on the Windmill: we walked through the grounds, out on to Cherry Lane, across Norwich Road, up the side of the High School and back to The Neatherd: satisfying collection of rarely used paths.

Walk promotion flyer (pdf, opens in new tab).

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