Making my Pledge for Paths to help and protect the places that I love to walk

Norwich Cathedral view across the pond

I peek out from behind the sofa, hoping that the paths haven't come to call in my pledge yet. I have yet to complete all of my path quests. But this is not Game of Paths. I think I can complete this in my own time, in my own way, with no threat from dragons, royalty or the bank of Braavos. Which is just as well, as I have completed one of my pledges, with three more to go.

The Pledge for Paths is a call out by The Ramblers, for people all over the United Kingdoms to help and protect the places that they love to walk by promising just four things....

1) I will report path problems through the Pathwatch app    
2) I will walk my favourite path    
3) I will explore new paths in my area    
4) I will ask my friends to support this campaign  

I have completed pledge number 2 by walking my favourite path in Norwich, down by the riverside and hopefully encompassing pledge 4 by sharing this pledge and asking my friends to join in and support the campaign by making their own pledges.

Norwich Riverside Walk

There are lots of points to join or exit the riverside path. I usually start my walk either from the University College of the Arts around to the Cathedral grounds or vice versa.

Starting at the archway at Norwich University of the Arts, you need to find the entrance through the grounds. 

Norwich University of the Arts. Entrance to the courtyard
Norwich University of the Arts- Entrance to the courtyard

Ruins of Blackfriar's Monastery in Norwich University of the Arts courtyard
Ruins of Blackfriar's Monastery in NUA courtyard
I think many people may pass this by, as they do not realise that it is accessible to the public.
The path turns left towards the river through some flint remains of a building.  It took a lot of Saturday afternoon, searching to find out what they were. Google isn’t what it used to be. I eventually managed to discover that they are the remaining ruins of Blackfriar’s Monastery.

The initial parts of the path aren’t so green and pleasant, but it does get better so stick with it.  Although if you head right out of the carpark, instead of carrying on by the river, the carpark exit leads onto Elm Hill, which is the prettiest little street in the city, with a cobbled road leading though a row of old Tudor buildings, housing unique little stores.

Public art on Quay Side in Norwich
Public art on Quay Side in Norwich

Following the river takes you beside the Ribs of Beef pub and across the road to Quay side. Lined with modern apartments now, the Quay Side used to be a busy, bustling area of the city and would have had barges pulling up alongside to offload their wares. There are no merchant vessels on the Quay Side nowadays but you will find many wooden bales littering the walkway. Each emblazoned with a thick, metal band featuring the names of businesses and individuals that have traded alongside that stretch of the river Wensum over the years.

I don’t know why those with the power to shape Norwich chose to ensure that most of Norwich riverside consists of a lovely shade of concrete grey, but crossing the next road and section of river and this is where things start to get pretty. The huge willow trees that line the riverside conveniently hides the office blocks on the other side of the bank. The path begins to open up and there is finally a real riverside with trees and flowers.  There are numerous benches scattered along this section of the river, offering walkers plenty of spots to just sit and watch the world go by, without getting a wet grassy bottom.

Jarrolds Building on Riverside
Jarrolds Building on Riverside

There is usually a fisherman or two sitting along this side of the river. I’m not surprised. I’m not sure what type of fish they were, (fish would not be my specialised subject on mastermind) but the river was teeming with them on my most recent walk in August. They drew my attention by the numerous undulating rings forming on the surface of the water. I even saw one fish take a leap out of the water. Why do they do that?

There is a relatively new bridge crossing the river along this stretch of water.  It does not appear to lead anywhere even vaguely interesting if you cross it, so I can only assume that it was built to give the office workers on the other side a quick route over to the Adam and Eve pub at lunch time.  The Adam and Eve pub is widely quoted as being the oldest pub in Norwich with references to it having been in use as far back as when Norwich Cathedral was being built in 1249.

There is a small wooden bridge along the path and over the entrance to The Swan Pit, which is the last remaining of its kind in England. Water flows into the sluice gate when the river Wensum is at high tide, into the pit in the grounds of The Great Hospital. Swans used to be raised there to end up on the table as food for Royalty. Thankfully, it's no longer used for that purpose. Although nobody seems to have told the swans that. There are coincidentally, by far, many more swans way downriver near Carrow Road, than stray anywhere near the Swan Pit.

The river makes a sharp turn to the right. Cow Tower, funnily enough, towers over the bend in the river. An old 14th century artillery tower. We used to be able to get inside as children, but there is a gate in the doorway preventing anyone from getting inside now.

Pond with Norwich Cathedral in the background
Pond with Norwich Cathedral in the background

It would be easy to get drawn to the tower and not look the other way and miss the pond. A wooden walkway lines the edge but you can also walk behind it. You can see the Cathedral in the distance between the purple flowers and trees and almost forget for a moment that you are looking towards the centre of the city.

View of Norwich Cathedral across the playing fields
View of Norwich Cathedral across the playing fields
The path meanders though grass and trees to Bishopsgate bridge and The Red Lion pub, continuing on the other side of the road. There are views across the playing fields to the Cathedral. I can hear bonging as I pass by, which amuses me because Norwich Cathedral apparently is one of only three Cathedrals in the country that doesn’t have bells, so I have no idea where the ringing emanates from. The school maybe?

Pull's Ferry in Norwich
Pull's Ferry
Once the path reaches Pulls Ferry I usually turn right, although the path does continue, through the gate, all the way up to Foundry bridge and Norwich Train Station if you keep heading straight.  But I’m usually heading into the city, not away from it, so I turn towards the Cathedral, passed all the old blue-doored, lock-up buildings and through the picturesque Cathedral Quarter, with quaint little houses and a green. It's like a little village in the centre of the city. Sometimes, there is a viewing station down near the green where people can spot the local Peregrine falcons that nest on the Cathedral. 

Norwich Cathedral entrance
Norwich Cathedral entrance
The old doorway, that has been incorporated into the new section of building by the side of the Cathedral, leads through into the cloisters and also to the Refectory cafe. I usually grab a coffee and a homemade sausage roll from there and I sit outside on the grass-covered green at the front of the Cathedral. A beautiful oasis to sit, in relative peace, away from busy Norwich streets, especially on a hot summer’s day. 

Take the pledge,download the app and take a walk.  You don't have to drive miles out of the city to find a nice place to walk.

It's a lovely walk down by Norwich riverside and there are plenty of places to stop and just sit down, or grab a drink on the way, and you are never more than a stone's throw from the city centre or a bit of history if you decide to explore 💗


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