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Halvergate Marshes… On the Weaver’s Way…

Sunrise…

Is that jacket going to keep you warm enough?’ Mrs Waterland asks as I get out of the car.  ‘Once we get walking, I’ll be alright’ I reply with a shiver.  Glancing East, I point towards Mutton’s Mill…  ‘look, the sun is coming up already…’

The sun rises behind Mutton’s Mill on Halvergate marshes

Early morning is by far my favourite time of day.  Especially early mornings like this, when the air is crisp and the sky is full of colour.  There’s a gentle breeze that means there’s no mist, but it’s cold enough that the water on the marshes is mostly frozen.

Halvergate Marshes…

Ahead of us is the vast expanse of Halvergate marshes.  I have not been here before except just to check if there would be anywhere to park, which thankfully there is…

The water on the marshes has frozen overnight…

Leaving the car parked on Stone Road, we take the more south-easterly of two paths.  This one forms part of the Weavers Way, a 61 mile footpath that links Cromer on the North Norfolk coast to Great Yarmouth in the East.  We will just be walking a small portion from Halvergate to the Berney Arms Mill on the River Yare.

The Weaver’s way though Halvergate Marshes

Many watercourses crisscross the Halvergate Marshes…

Two swans begin a new day together

A ditch, dyke or stream? I don’t know, but it’s beautiful here…

The sun clears the horizon on Halvergate Marshes – A new day has come!

The vast and beautiful landscape of Halvergate Marshes

Four’s a Party…

And so we head on, we party of four, because apart from Mrs Waterland, of course our dogs Monty and Mabel would not want to miss this.  Into the wild expanse we go, fully awake now and into our stride.  To the South we see a huge flock of Geese wheel around the sky.  They fly directly overhead before settling into a new marshy habitat to the North.  Under a glorious rising sun, we cross a wooden footbridge and onwards, heading South East towards the Mill at Berney Arms, which stands before us in the distance.

Huge numbers of Grey Geese wheel over the marshes

Over a footbridge and onwards into the marshes

A River runs through it… (or a dyke, ditch or steam…)

You’ll have to jump, Monty..

Cold Feet…

I’m glad I’m wearing waterproof boots’  I shout across to Mrs Waterland, who has chosen a different route across this part of marsh.  ‘My feet have been completely submerged  but there’s no sign of water getting in. – ‘which is handy, because it’s FREEZING!’ I add.  ‘Oh good for you!’ comes the response.  ‘How are your feet doing?‘ I cautiously ask, sensing not all is well…  ‘Feet are thoroughly cold and wet!!‘ comes the terse response, followed by, ‘I didn’t pick a very good route across here.‘  Perhaps this isn’t the time to suggest new footwear…  I might end up having a waterlogged boot aimed where the sun isn’t shining!

Sometimes it is not easy to tell which way we are supposed to go in order to get across the many waterways but with the constant landmark of Berney Arms Mill getting ever closer, and with the occasional white post guiding our way, we are able to make good progress.

A Remarkable Place in the Marshes…

In time we come to a railway station, which serves the remote settlement of Berney Arms.  The settlement consists of a house, the Inn and the Mill.  Two trains a day will stop at this station if requested, but there is no road access here.  Once alighted, the only option is to walk across the marshes, either to Berney Arms, or to Halvergate.  Likewise, the Berney Arms Inn, which sits 600 yards away, on the bank of the River Yare, can only be accessed from this footpath across the marshes, or by boat.  Unfortunately this wonderful Inn closed recently due to lack of customers.  I had never been there when it was open but would love to visit if any of the attempts to re-open the Inn were to be successful.  I’m not aware of any other station or inn that are located in such a wonderfully remote spot.  ‘My kind of place‘ I grin at Mrs Waterland as we cross the railway line and enter the  Berney Marshes RSPB reserve, now so close to the Mill.  ‘Me too‘ she coos, ‘but with dry feet next time…’

The quite unique Berney Arms Station…

Nearly there: Berney Arms Mill…

Berney Arms…

And so we arrive on the banks of the River Yare, close to Breydon Water.  After admiring the Mill (which is one of the larger and better kept mills on the Broads) we follow the river up to the Inn, which is perhaps being lived in, but certainly not open to the public.  ‘It would have been be wonderful if it were open’ I muse.  ‘Yes, I could murder a cup of tea‘ Mrs Waterland adds with a sigh.  ‘Well, I can’t quite warm your feet up, but I can offer you some tea‘ I reply, pulling a flask out of my rucksack.  ‘Oh, yes!‘ she beams back at me.

Berney Arms Mill…

The River Yare, near Breydon Water

Berney Arms Inn on the bank of the River Yare

 

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