About Peddars Way
Peddars Way is one half of the National Trail that includes the Norfolk Coast Path.
The whole trail is 93 miles long, but the Peddars Way section is, officially, just under 50 miles in length. It runs in a straight line from the southern border of Norfolk all the way to Holme on the coast, where it takes a short westward deviation along the shoreline to Hunstanton.
The path follows ancient tracks and Roman Roads, and so is steeped in history. It runs through a mixture of open agricultural countryside and forested areas.
Starting point of Peddars Way
The starting point for Peddars Way is roughly 3 miles east of Thetford, at a small car park by Knettishall Heath . Three long distance trails converge here – the Icknield Way, the Angles Way and Peddars.
Getting to the start
There is no bus service to Knettishall Heath and there are no direct public footpaths from Thetford to the start of the walk either. So you need to either walk along roads from Thetford, take a taxi, or drive to the car park.
I arrived at Thetford by train and took a taxi to Knettishall. (You would be advised to arrange a taxi in advance. My train came in just before 9am and all the taxis were booked out.)
Overview of the walk
The first part of the walk is narrow and passes through trees. You cross the marshy area by the river Thet along wooden walkways. It’s easy and very pleasant walking. Later the path follows wide forestry tracks, but you are never far from trees.
At one point I dived into the woods and startled a small red deer, before stopping for a snack and rest on a handy fallen trunk.
Farther on, after crossing a road and a railway line, you arrive at the small village of Stonebridge, where there is a pub. Sadly I arrived there rather too early for lunch, so kept going.
You begin to walk past MOD property. The path is now a wide track, muddy from farm or military vehicles and full of pot holes. The fences on either side are flimsy, but warning signs proclaim this is a military firing range. Keep Out.
I was glad to leave this section behind. The mud was unpleasant, I felt imprisoned by fences, and there wasn’t even a narrow grass verge to stop for a rest.
After escaping unscathed from MOD country, Peddars Way continues, through a mixture of woodland and farmland. Although much of the agriculture is screened by vegetation or hidden behind fencing, you will certainly notice the unmistakable whiff of poultry – possibly famous Norfolk turkeys? You will also pass fields of sheep and free range pigs.
And along this section of Peddars Way you will pass two Songline sculptures, each carved with words of poetry. A lovely idea and these make interesting and unusual waymarks as you continue along the route.
End of first section
I stopped at the Hare and Barrel Hotel in Watton for the night. It was more pub than hotel, but clean and cheap, with good food.
The official guide suggests you stop at Little Cressingham, which is a mile or so further along and on the trail itself, but I was unable to find an open B&B on the Internet.
A good walker could easily continue much farther, but I walked this on the 18th December and the daylight was fading by 3:30 pm.
Overview and distance covered
The official National Trail site claims the section from Knettishall to Little Cressingham is 14.5 miles. With the deviation to Watton, my Garmin recorded 14.9 miles.
Overall impression: an excellent walk, well signposted and with an easy surface. It was only spoilt by the fenced-in section with the wide and very muddy track. I was worried because the route looked very straight on the map and this can make for a boring walk. But there were enough gentle twists and curves in the path to make it an interesting day. The Songline sculptures were an added bonus.
My walk along Peddars Way
Peddars Way, Stage 1: Knettishall to Watton (15 miles)
Peddars Way, Stage 2: Watton to Castle Acre (16 miles)
Peddars Way, Stage 3: Castle Acre to Sedgeford (16 miles)
Peddars Way, Stage 4: Sedgeford to Hunstanton (9 miles)
Useful links for Peddars Way
Peddars Way on the Long Distance Walkers Association site.