Burlingham Woodland Walks pass through a gentle landscape of old and new woodland and orchards, with farmland interspersed by hedgerows.
Developed since the 1990s on land owned by Norfolk County Council, the walks use Public Rights of Way and permissive paths.
There are a variety of walks to suit all abilities, ranging from one mile to several miles, and this includes a number for wheelchair and mobility vehicles. Some of the routes can also be used by horses.
The walks are about seven miles east of Norwich and can be accessed at a number of start points, including from North Burlingham (parking off the A47 opposite St Andrews church at the west end of the village), Acle, Fairhaven Gardens and Lingwood (requires crossing A47 to join the main network of paths). At Acle, the walks link in with Weavers’ Way.
They are also easily reached by public transport, with train stations at Acle and Lingwood plus regular bus services to both. See Traveline East Anglia for more information on public transport.
A sculpture trail consisting of 15 bronze plaques has been installed by artist John Behm.
Listed below, each plaque represents a local scene or event and a rubbing can be taken from each.
1) Saint Andrew Angel
The extant church of North Burlingham is dedicated to Saint Andrew.
On this plaque we see the angel, holding the ‘Saltire’ cross of Saint Andrew, drawn from the angels supporting the roof inside the church.
2) Iceni Horse
The Iceni, a Britonic pre-Roman tribe, are the earliest recorded people of Norfolk. An Iceni coin was found locally and bears this image of a stallion, shown breathing fire. Of course this is how any warrior would want others to think of his horse.
The wheel is also a common motif of coins of this sort, as are pelleted decorations. The Celts are known to have worshipped the horse as a symbol of strength and fertility. There was still a blacksmith’s forge in the village within living memory about 250 yards from this post.
3) Woad Working
Blofield parish lies immediately west of North Burlingham. According to scholars it derives its name from the fact that woad was a major crop superseded by chemical dyes like Prussian blue.
The figures in this image have balls of woad at their feet, which they are stacking into the cask. In the background is a hand holding processed woad.
4) Lunar Crescents and Stars
This shows a pattern of three crescent moons wheeling through a starry sky, mimicking a stylized glade of wild flowers, or a bunch of mistletoe.
The design comes from a coin of the Iceni. Their coins, something to hold in the hand, can be our most immediate avenue of contact with them. The coins bear designs, which signify things that had symbolic meaning for their people. In Britain for the time of the Iceni, coins were not currency but were distributed as gifts by chiefs and kings.
5) Clouded Yellow
This fast-flying butterfly is a migratory species, occasionally having mass migrations and subsequent breeding. They congregate in flowery places.
6) The Oak
This ancient oak was once regularly pollarded. These beautiful trees are heritage sites as well as being valuable wildlife habitats.
7) First Edition OS
The first edition maps of the Ordnance Survey produced in the late 19th Century were some of the most beautiful and accurate maps ever produced. Every tree was marked and you can see how many trees there were at that time.
Bluebells capture the spirit of springtime. The intensely coloured carpets of colour are a sight to light the spirit. Nearly half of the bluebells in the world grow in Britain.
9) Tree Sitters
200 years ago the tenants and farm workers of Burlingham Hall Estate rose in protest, demanding better conditions.
The Estate’s owner called upon his neighbours to gather at the hall with their guns to repel the workers. In a field nearby, very close to where the halls once stood, ancient bullets are frequently found. In this bronze we see men sitting in a tree debating rights, from a 17th Century woodcut.
Cernunnos is the very powerful antlered god, or horned god, of the forest. He was worshipped across the realms of the Celts, including the Iceni who produced coins bearing his image, from one of which this design is drawn. The Romans effectively eradicated worship of the native gods by the Celts, replacing them with Roman gods like Mithras.
Throughout Britain, wolves were a living presence, the top predator, until hunted to extinction in about the 15th Century.
This plaque takes its design from a very small engraved Anglo-Saxon ornament, which is probably a piece of a mount from an early Anglian bishop’s crozier.
It is kept at Norwich Castle Museum. It illustrates something of the place the wolf had in the respect and imagination of its contemporaries – a powerful beast abroad in the land.
12) Open Field System
This was the common system of agriculture before the progress of enclosure. By the beginning of the 19th Century open fields had almost entirely disappeared.
13) Oak Branch and Nuthatch
As well as being such a presence in our countryside, oak trees are a diverse ‘microcountryside’. They are a habitat for hundreds of species of insects and larger wildlife.
Many of the smaller are hunted among the nooks and crannies by creatures we might not immediately think of as predators.
Among these is the nuthatch, which hunts for earwigs, beetles and small caterpillars. The nuthatch also wedges acorns and nuts in the crevices of bark to split open with its ‘hatchet’ beak. It is the only native bird that can regularly climb down trees head first.
14) Roman Helmet of The Saxon Shore
East Anglia’s coastline, known by the Romans as the “Saxon shore”, was once very different.
The rivers Bure, Yare and Waveney all flowed together in the ‘great estuary’, starting at Acle, where the Romans built landings. In their time there was not even land where Great Yarmouth stands now. The Roman forts of Burgh Castle and Caister-on-Sea faced each other across the mouth of the estuary.
They regulated shipping and stood guard against the probings of the Angles, Jutes, and other North-German peoples seeking new territories. This plaque depicts a helmet once worn by a Roman auxiliary who was a cavalryman of the Stablesi tribe in what is now Holland. It was found during excavations at Burgh Castle and is now in the Time and Tide Museum at Great Yarmouth. In this image, super-imposed on the helmet is a design of a Saxon ship, from an Anglo-Saxon penny now at Norwich Castle. It conveys what would have been on the minds of those Roman garrisons.
The brilliant, bright, plumage of the kingfisher makes it unmistakable. The back and tail are iridescent blue and the under parts and cheek a bright orange. They are often seen darting along the dyke.
Human Sundial at Jubilee Wood
In Jubilee Wood you will find a human analemmatic horizontal sundial.
Horizontal sundials became fashionable in the 16th Century as garden ornaments. They are simple to read and were used by their owners for the serious business of checking their household clocks and watches. The observer stands on a central date scale and their shadow will indicate the time in relation to the nearest hour mark.
The two semi-circles of hour markers give the time in Greenwich Mean Time (outer ring) and British Summer Time (inner ring).
Sundial at St Austin’s Wood
The sundial is installed in an elevated position in a wooded clearing at Austin’s wood, between Burlingham Green and South Walsham.
It is an impressive sight, some 2 feet square, with 5 faces, each of which carries a gnomon (which projects the shadow) and markings to show the time.
It was designed by David Payne, a self-taught sundial fanatic, and cut and carved out of granite by local stonemasons Abbey Memorials, taking 2 years from drawing board to installation to completion.
An area within Drive Plantation is used to display natural form artwork created by local students from Acle High School as part of their GCSEs.
Each year they create new sculptures using inspiration from nature and natural materials.
Projects have included decorating tree trunks with insect sculptures, willow hangings representing seed pods and plaster mushrooms.
As with most ‘land art’ they will change and decay with time.