Fine City Walks: Discovering Norwich one step at a time
We’ve all been strolling for miles during lockdown and discovering new things along the way. Here Simon Cass describes one of his favourite walks, starting off in NR3.

I frequently take Charlie out on walks around our end of the city, Silver Road in NR3. We are creatures of habit and have a few favourite circular walks. This is one and is about four and a half kilometres in total.

We start at Kofra coffee at the junction between Sprowston Road and Bell Road. Good coffee and cakes are available here, or on the other side of the road is The Fat Cat Brewery Tap.

Going along Bell Road we come out on Silver Road and go uphill as far as Branford Road where we cross and carry on the pedestrian part of Branford Road. There is a brick pillar marking the corner of George White school, this has a small mason’s mark in it, an arrow with a horizontal datum.

Turning right at the top onto Crome Road we pass some new flats on the left that have incorporated the main doorway from a now demolished shoe factory, we go past the back of the school that still has it’s Victorian wrought iron railings and some nice London Plane trees. Carrying on, crossing Churchill Road we pass the back of St Mary Magdalene church and the Soviet looking county hall is visible in the distance.

Crossing Mousehold Avenue the path descends steeply which can be treacherous in icy weather to the corner of Morley Street and Balfour Street. A nice view of the cathedral opens up here. A solitary old cottage sits behind hedges that must pre-date all the Victorian terraces in the area. Turning left along Balfour street we pass the popular Kett’s Cave Park which has a fenced off childrens’ play area and a hard basketball court. Emerging onto Mousehold Street we turn left and then right at the Robin Hood pub onto Anchor Street which becomes Cavalry Ride. So named because the Norfolk regiment used to exercise their horses here when it was just heathland. Britannia Barracks not being far away as well as the now demolished Nelson Barracks. These had stables below and the soldiers’ accommodation above. Turning right onto St James Close and then left onto Barrack Street, named after the now absent Nelson barracks.

We cross Barrack Street at the crossing and continue uphill, turning off at Zaks American Restaurant. The footway drops to the river and gives a nice view of Cow Tower. There was once a mast from a Norfolk Wherry here but I think it must have rotted because it’s now cut off and only a stump. Sometimes there are swans, ducks, geese and anglers along here. I can let Charlie out on his lead and he enjoys the smells, splashing happily in the muddy puddles where I hop, skip and jump around them. A little further on gives a nice low level view of the three arches of Bishop’s Bridge.

As the path ascends there are concrete steps that take us up to Riverside Road. I more often than not encounter people of the streets here, where the ven diagrammes of my world and theirs cross. They never give me any bother and are usually so pre-occupied with themselves that they barely notice us. If they do say anything at all they are pretty much always polite and enquire about Charlie. If you want to avoid this stretch don’t turn off at Zaks but continue up the roundabout and then right along Riverside Road.

Charlie enjoys poking his head through the little arches that form the balustrade here just to see if there’s anything interesting below. Which so far there hasn’t been. We cross Bishop’s Bridge, nice views up and down stream of the river. The bridge slopes and can be slippery when it’s frosty. Then we turn left along the Riverside Walk. As we go along here there’s a modern wall on the right that has decorative bricks, presumably made by the Norwich school pupils and what I think is the Norwich school canoe or rowing club on the left, sometimes noises of boats being maintained are heard. The fine view across the playing field to the cathedral starts to hint at its vast size. The path continues under a large poplar leaning steeply, presumably pushed over by a storm and we arrive at Pull’s Ferry.

The path continues along the river through a small archway but we turn right into the Cathedral Close. We go past what look like old coach houses or stables.  Before we come out in the close proper with all its picturesque variety of old houses, we pass a bay fronted house that has a rocking horse in the window, which has  been there as long as I can remember. Going past the grassy area in the centre we turn right towards the cathedral, passing some ancient ruins on the left of the monastery infirmary dating from the twelfth century. In more normal times there is a good cafe here, toilets as well. As we approach the cathedral it’s epic scale becomes apparent and when it was started a thousand years ago it must have been like a spaceship had landed. We carry on past the East end of the Cathedral where round Norman arches can be seen alongside later Gothic ones. Edith Cavell’s grave is also here. We exit the Close at some iron gates and turn left towards the Adam and Eve Pub.

As the road bends sharply we turn right towards the Adam and Eve, then through the car park to the river where we cross on the modern corten steel foot bridge. Turning back on ourselves we go down some steps to the river once more and head upstream, right. I keep a keen lookout for the otters that have been seen along this stretch but so far have not been rewarded. We pass the new development and the older building generally known as Jarrold’s mill, mostly because it belongs, or did, to the Jarrold family and looks like one of the cotton mills found in northern England. I like it along here the mill is covered with ivy and there’s weeping willows hanging over the riverbank.

As we emerge onto Whitefriars there is a small medieval arch with a plaque saying that in the 15th century Lady Eleanor Talbot was buried there and a stone memorial saying that the arch itself is all that’s left of a 13th century Anchorite house. We continue right along Whitefriars towards the roundabout that has the Norwich Puppet Theatre on it where we cross the main road to Cowgate. Crossing Bull Close Road we pass The Welcome Chinese takeaway onto Steward Street and turn left onto Silver Street. At the end a hard right onto Spencer Street and up the hill passing The Marlborough Arms before dropping down to the old Branford Arms Stores, now converted into flats. A short distance along Sprowston road brings us back to Kofra coffee, or the Fat Cat where loaded chips, Motherchips, can be had in more normal times.

About the Author

Simon Cass

Simon Cass was born in Leicester and moved to Norwich as a young boy. He has lived in the north of the city for over 50 years and describes himself as ‘very nearly a native.’