City to County

James and fam­ily en­joy a day of un­fil­tered Nor­folk-ness

EDP Norfolk - - Inside - James Matthews

James en­joys a clas­sic Nor­folk fam­ily day out

I THINK I’ve just ex­pe­ri­enced our most ‘Nor­folk’ day ever.

Granted, my wife and I did de­cide to take our son for a mooch around the vil­lage of Ran­worth on the Nor­folk Broads so I was ask­ing for it, but it was only when I got home and re­flected on our won­der­ful af­ter­noon that I re­alised just how, well, Nor­folk it had been.

Ten min­utes into our jour­ney to the Broads we turned off the main road and onto a coun­try lane to be met by the back of a rather large and rather slow trac­tor. Bounc­ing atop, the farmer seemed to be tak­ing a very laid-back ap­proach to his Sun­day drive. When I first moved to our fine county I used to find be­ing stuck be­hind a va­ri­ety of agri­cul­tural ma­chin­ery de­light­fully an­noy­ing – a sign of the ru­ral life I’d need to em­brace. Now I spend the painful min­utes pray­ing that the next dirt track will be the turn off that leads to the driver’s des­ti­na­tion. Alas, on this oc­ca­sion we, along with a cav­al­cade of other mo­torists, fol­lowed our farmer friend all the way to Ran­worth.

We be­gan our ex­plo­ration of Ran­worth by fol­low­ing the Nor­folk Wildlife Trust’s sus­pended board­walk into the grass­lands on the edge of the vil­lage’s vast, open broad, stop­ping to read in­for­ma­tion about the wildlife hid­ing in the reedbeds around us.

Hav­ing failed to spot a Nor­folk Hawker dragonfly or Swal­low­tail but­ter­fly (or in fact any of the other na­tive wildlife we’d stud­ied) we strolled up to St He­len’s church. Not only is it an ar­che­typal me­di­ae­val Nor­folk church, its af­fec­tion­ately known as the ‘Cathe­dral of the Broads’ since it forms a part of most views from the North­ern wa­ter­ways. And if you can face climb­ing the steep stone steps and rick­ety lad­ders of its 100ft bell tower you can see that won­der­ful view in re­verse.

Af­ter a cau­tious climb back down the church bell tower we headed to the vil­lage green and sat on the grass out­side old malt houses that once stored the malt trans­ported by the wherry boats of the Broads. And right on cue, as we watched plea­sure boats mo­tor­ing back and forth, an old Nor­folk wherry sailed into view and be­gan travers­ing the broad in front of us.

I took it as a sign I should swap my cup of tea for some­thing a lit­tle more fit­ting for our lo­ca­tion. We re­treated a few yards to the front gar­den of the ap­pro­pri­ately named Malt­sters pub to en­joy a pint of Wherry ale. Sat­is­fied that the shape of the Wherry boat etched on my glass matched the gen­uine ar­ti­cle in the dis­tance, we de­cided the day couldn’t pos­si­bly get any more Nor­folk and we should be on our way.

As we walked out of the pub and across the road three horses trot­ted past. The rid­ers dis­mounted and tied them up in front of the green to com­plete the near-per­fect Nor­folk pic­ture in front of us.

We were met by the same three horses trot­ting up the road as we turned out of the car park. The rid­ers pulled over and waved us by with a smile. Re­lieved it hadn’t been a trac­tor we headed home.

The most Nor­folk day ever? I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to do bet­ter.

Above: Nor­folk Wherry Trust’s Al­bion ar­riv­ing at Ran­worth Staithe

Left: Ran­worth. Nor­folk Wildlife Trust Ran­worth Broad na­ture re­serve.

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