Page published 13 February 2021

Originally posted on what used to be "The Blog", this page records a walk undertaken on 8 May 2011.

The Walk

Following the encounter, this morning at the Stalham Boat Jumble Sale, with the guy who had bought the canoe kit, I suggested to Diana we take a walk along The Weavers Way. He and I had met in the North Walsham and Dilham Canal Trust tent. He lived in East Ruston and when built he was talking of launching the canoe in what would have once been the basin at the end of the East Ruston arm of the canal.

The weather was bright, but with a chilly breeze, and my idea was to start at the small car park on Chapel Road, East Ruston, and walk from there to the remains of Honing Staithe. It's only a few minutes drive from home, but taking the car meant that we could skip that part of the Weavers Way that we had done on our last walk.

The bridge over the canal

The older brick canal bridge has a majesty that the nearby railway bridge lacks. The water is only inches deep in much of the area around the bridge. There is much work to be done to restore navigation.

Starting in East Ruston also meant that we would miss the long straight section, as the old line leaves Stalham, and that much of the route would be within a wooded area and so we should be protected from the wind. From the car park our route would take a long gentle S-bend as far as Honing Bridge and the staithe. If we were feeling energetic we could go on another kilometre to the site of Honing Station or even the bridge beyond, where the line crosses the canal.

It was unfortunate that Diana hadn't brought with her the best shoes for walking. On the gravelly remains of the old track bed her feet probably took more punishment than was ideal in her shoes.

The first five hundred yards or so is well protected from the wind by trees and shrubs but then there's a longer stretch with only a single line of trees between the track and open fields. There we did feel the wind. There are indications of footpaths crossing the old railway line but it is certainly easier following the well defined railway line.

Upstream from Honing Staithe

The view upstream from The dyke leading to Honing Staithe. It's hard to imagine that craft as substantial as wherries once passed this way.

Once back in the trees, near Grove Farm, things were better. You come across a long set of stables and then further buildings where the maps tell me Lock Lane crosses the line. From there it is only another five hundred yards before we reach the intriguingly light-weight double span road bridge. The double span suggests that the engineers had planned for a twin track line. The lattice pillars that support the roadway above seem inadequate as you approach the bridge, given the heavy look of its slab sides, which although utilitarian, sport trefoil decorations. As you walk under it, you see that the roadway is supported on brick arched ridges, which again seem out of place within the steel structure of the bridge.

Once under the bridge you see the end of the canal arm that once formed Honing Staithe. In the dappled sunlight that we found ourselves it is an attractive area. Off the line the ground is soft and peaty in feel, with only the lightest ground cover vegetation. A well trodden path leads down beside the dyke to the canal a hundred yards to the south.

Honing Staithe

The view from the head of the staithe, adjacent to the old railway line, now Weavers Way.

As we approached the main line, we could see that there was a couple lying on the grassy bank lapping up the sunshine in this quiet and sheltered spot. Here out of the wind it felt warm. In amongst the outlines of shoes we could see plenty of deer and a few dog prints in the soft mud at the edge of the waterway.

I asked Diana if she felt like going the short distance further, but she wisely suggested that we return home. It was approaching five o'clock and had we gone further our meal would have mean unacceptably late. The journey back seemed a a lot less time than the outward stroll. I don't think we walked any faster. Nonetheless when the car came into view it was a welcome sight. Then it was home and our "Sunday Lunch" if you can call it that when it's taken so late in the day.

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