An autumn walk with Peter James of Norfolk Ramblers
Ramble around Hempnall and Saxlingham Nethergate
The start is opposite the school. With the school on your right, follow the road to the war memorial. Bear left into Fairstead Lane, then turn right on to Pymars Lane. Follow the track through the farmyard and at the end of the buildings on your left take the track to the left.
At the corner, turn right and follow the path through to the T-junction. If doing the short walk turn right, follow to the road, turn right again then take the path on the right. At the fence turn right where you re-join the main walk at paragraph four.
For the other walk turn right, then left; at the end of the field turn left, follow the path to the gap. Turn right then left between the hedges, follow through to the track to the horse sanctuary. Turn right on Wash Lane then right. At the marker post on the right go on to the meadow; at the woods bear left. Off to the right is an entrance into the woods where you will find the remains of Saxlingham Thorpe Church. Pass through the ruins, follow the path through the woods, turn right then, at the fingerpost, turn left. Follow the path to the school on to the road. If doing the medium walk turn right, then cross the road at the corner, turn left on to Hall Lane. At the Boudica Way fingerpost turn right, follow to the road, turn left at the phone box, turn right, follow the track to the gates then follow the path between the fence and hedge to the bridge where you join main walk at paragraph four.
For the main walk cross the road; passing the village sign enter the churchyard. Follow the path to the left of the church. At the bottom go through the gate, follow the path. Before the stile turn right, following this path to the road. Turn left then right. Just before the wind turbine take the path on the right, follow it over the bridge then go through the gate.
Following the fence, at the end turn right on to the road, then left. Follow the track to the end. At the woods, turn right, pass through the kissing gate. Follow the path; passing the first path off to the left. At the second path cross the bridge on your left. Follow the path to the end, then take the cross-field path left to the corner of the hedge. Turn right, cross the bridge and follow to the second bridge. Follow the path with a hedge on your left; at the end of the field take the long cross-field path. Head towards the pole in the field then go straight on to a gap to an enclosed path. Follow, bearing left then right to the road. Turn right at the end of the road and you are back on the road you have parked on.
(A) Ruins of St Mary’s Church, Saxlingham Thorpe
he church that once stood here probably originated in the late Saxon period as shown by the design of the nave and the two Saxo-Norman phases visible in the chancel. Other features, like the tower and buttresses, date to around 1500.
Repairs to the building stopped in 1684 and by 1687 the building was ruined with materials being used to repair St Mary’s Church in Saxlingham Nethergate.
The church probably fell out of use as villagers migrated away from Saxlingham Thorpe to other more hospitable locations in the valley.
(B) St Mary’s Church, Saxlingham Nethergate
his church is set in a beautiful position, nestled between the Old Rectory and Old Hall. It traces its earliest origins to the late Saxon period but much of the architecture, including the grand tower with brick and flint battlements, dates to the 14th and 15th centuries.
The exterior was heavily restored in 1867 and the clock and sundial have been repaired more recently. Inside there is a fine collection of stained glass windows, with those in the south chancel being the earliest examples to be found in any Norfolk church. Visitors should also take note of the impressive 18th century memorial to John Baron and the chunky stone font decorated with roses and rather smug-looking lions!
Saxlingham Nethergate church