Peter James, of Norfolk Ramblers, takes us for a walk near the pretty town of Holt
This month we go to Holt Country Park
Park on the main car park, accessed from the B1149, where there is a visitor centre and toilets. Start with your back to the visitor centre and walk across the car park to find a large wooden post with the circular walks waymark arrows on and a carving of mushrooms at the top. Follow the blue arrows along the path through the woods.
When the path gets close to a pond, bear round to the left following the blue arrow and fork right at the next junction along a broad straight path. Go through a gap between gate posts (gate missing) and cross a track; continue ahead and at the next T-junction turn right, then bend round to the left with the path, cross another track with a metal gate on your right. Continue ahead, turn right and out onto the Hempstead Road. Carry on along the road, over a stream and pass two old flint buildings on your left, a former mill. As the road rises, pass Hawksmere on your left; at the top of the hill as the road bends round to the left, turn right onto a signed track along a field edge.
At a junction of fields bear a little to the right then to the left, just before going under power lines. Walk down the left edge of the field with the power lines on your right. Follow the path towards Hempstead Hall past a pond on your left and over a stile and continue towards farm buildings.
Follow a track to the left then to the right, passing the entrance of Hempstead Hall. Keep to the driveway; ignore a path on the left just past a house, then, opposite a bungalow with a long leylandii hedge, turn right over a footbridge to a field path. As it approaches some trees cross a ditch to the right, continue ahead for a short distance, bear round to the right along the field edge and then bend left to All Saints Church, Hempstead.
This delightful little church has its origins in the 11th century and every century up to the 20th has made some alteration or addition. The tower, no taller than the rest of the church, is just attached by one corner. Continue (either inside or outside the churchyard) to a road and turn left. 2 As the road curves to the left, and just beyond a terrace of very attractive cottages, turn right through a gap beside a field gate. Continue to a road, cross into a field and turn right along the field edge adjacent to the road.
As the water tower comes into view, at a crossing field boundary turn left along the field edge with the hedge on your right; continue along the field edge to a corner. Go through a gap and turn right along a hedged path, then a field edge to a tarmac lane with Strawberry Patch on your left and further over to the left Beckett’s Farm.
Cross the track and continue ahead along a hedged lane. Turn left along Hall Lane to Hall Farm and Baconsthorpe Castle. Turn right, then left through the car park and into the castle. With a moat on three sides and a mere on the eastern side, the setting is idyllic for this fortified manor house, built in the 15th century by the Heydon family. Within 200 years financial difficulties forced its partial demolition and sale of the stone for building materials. The ruins are now in the care of English Heritage and it is open at all reasonable times and there are informative display panels outlining the history.
Emerging from the castle turn left out of the car park along the access track. Just before a bend and a cattle grid turn right over a footbridge, and then go ahead
Above: Hempstead Hall
Bottom: Baconsthorpe Castle
Below: Totem pole, Holt Country Park