Walsingham circular walk is a perfect excuse to go and see the wonderful Walsingham Priory, visit this most historic and religious village, follow in the footsteps of the famous pilgrims, and also view some of Norfolk’s wonderful rural countryside in the most peaceful surroundings.
I love being able to take a walk in the vicinity of something of interest. Felbrigg Hall and Blickling Hall are excellent examples of this, as is the Castle Acre circular walk. And this one is no different. It gives you time to visit these historic buildings and grounds, to take a relaxed walk and see the surrounding area, and often end up in the tea rooms or pubs for well-deserved refreshments!
Length: 5.8 miles or 4.3 miles
Ease of walk: some inclines and can be muddy
What you’ll see: Walsingham Priory, countryside, flint villages, Houghton-St Giles, The Slipper Chapel, part of the pilgrims route, a ford, farmland, woodland, amazing views from the top of the valley
OS Map: 251 (advisable)
The Walsingham circular walk starts in the village car park, the Old Mill Car Park, easily distinguished by the chimney of an old mill, and also home to Holt Antiques. Walk from the car park towards the village and turn immediately right to wander through the middle of the High Street. This is a wonderfully old historic village with many timbered buildings as well as the Norman arch of the Priory which you’ll walk right past.
Walk to the bottom of this road and take the first left, Church Street which will bring you face to face with the large village church with its splendid flint stone wall. Follow the road round to the left until you arrive at a metal gate on your left with the Priory in view, and a tarmac farm track on your right. Go a short distance along this farm track, following the wrought iron fence until you reach a couple of houses on your right.
Once you’ve reached these houses, you’ll see a gate in the fence with a footpath (this isn’t signposted) which takes you up the hill, keeping the wood on your right. Walk all the way up to the brow of the hill, where you’ll then come across a stile.
Climb over the stile and keep heading in the same direction, veering slightly towards the right hand corner. Eventually you’ll reach a hedge and another stile in the corner of the field. This comes out onto a small lane.
Turn right onto the road and continue up to the brow of the hill and beyond. Eventually you’ll come across a muddy track on your right. This track is very obviously used by farm machinery, and has a line of trees to the left of it. It’s also just before you would walk down the hill to Great Snoring, if you were going to take this route. Walk along this track to the end of this field and you’ll join another track (again very obvious).
Turn right here and continue on down the muddy and grassy path all the way to another lane. You feel as if you’re in no-man’s land here, peace and tranquillity really do abound.
You'll arrive at the road running from Walsingham to Houghton St Gilest Turn left. This is the most precarious bit of the walk, and I did end up jumping onto the verge more than once! However, the view to the right is lovely, with the River Stiffkey winding its way towards Walsingham, and once you reach the small tranquil village of Houghton St Giles, you'll forget all about it.
The pretty flint stone village is famous for the Slipper Chapel where the Roman Catholic Shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham sits. You are now about to join the Pilgrims route on this Walsingham circular walk which is walked by thousands of Christians of every denomination every year.
Don’t take the first cross roads in the village, continue on past the church and turn right down a small lane which has a “Ford” sign. Continue over the ford and you’ll reach a T Junction which is where the Slipper Chapel is.
Continuing on the Walsingham circular walk, cross straight over this road up a short way on the tarmac road, and then turn right along the old railway line which is now part of the pilgrims route. This is the stretch that is supposed to have been walked barefoot, I think it may have been very uncomfortable! Continue along here until you reach a wooden bridge, and at the other side of the bridge are some steps, down to yet another path.
NOTE: if you want the slightly shorter walk of 4.3 miles, then just continue along this disused railway until you get to the old railway station where you turn right and walk down the hill heading back towards the car park.
On reaching this path, turn right and continue along here until you reach three old metal silos where you turn right (signposted). Walk up the hill keeping the wood on your left. Here you want to turn round for some wonderful views.
Once at the top of the hill, go through the gap in the hedge, heading in the same direction, and at the end of that field you'll reach the mud track of Waterden Road. Turn right and continue past some derelict farm buildings. This is the best view on the Walsingham circular walk, miles and miles of Norfolk countryside stretching in front of you.
Continue on straight ahead through the narrow path with trees either side until you reach a tarmac road. Turn right and then turn right again almost immediately, heading down towards Walsingham village where you’ll arrive at the old railway station which is now the Orthodox Church. The platform is still visible and you’ll also see that it’s the end of the old railway line pilgrimage route that you were on before you took the detour down the steps by the wooden bridge.
Cross over this road and head on down between the houses. Take the first left and you’ll end up at the back of the car park with the chimney clearly visible.
There are so many interesting and historical things to see on this Walsingham circular walk. It’s very pretty countryside, just a few miles from the coast and, in the main, is an incredibly peaceful walk.
Other walks of interest that you might like where you can see historical ruins or buildings are the Felbrigg Hall walks and the Castle Acre circular walk.