National Walking Month in Norwich & Norfolk

30 April 2024

National Walking Month in Norwich & Norfolk

Did you know? May is National Walking Month! Combined with the fact that few places offer walks as varied and scenic as Norwich & Norfolk, you’ve got the perfect reason to get outside, enjoy some fresh air, and feel better in both body and mind while doing it! We’re a city and county best explored by foot, after all!

From winding cobbled streets to riverside walks, exploring iconic buildings and grounds to countryside escapes, we truly have it all. Want to find out more? Read on for our top suggestions for walks around the City of Stories and beyond!

Norwich Cathedral Grounds

Where better to start than with this iconic Norwich landmark? Set in 44 acres of beautiful grounds and known locally as the ‘village within the city’, Norwich Cathedral is the perfect place to find some peace away from the hustle and bustle of the city centre, and it’s just minutes away from our famous Tombland!

The Cathedral is truly gorgeous, whether you’re exploring the ins and outs of the spectacular architecture, magnificent art, or its fascinating history. It has the second-tallest spire and the largest monastic cloisters in England, so you can imagine just how breathtaking it is. Take in the open grounds too, with stunning town houses, riverside views, and historic landmarks like Pulls Ferry and Cow Tower!

A Cathedral stands out among a city

Norwich Cathedral is the perfect escape from the hustle and bustle of the city centre.

Elm Hill

The perfect continuation from Norwich Cathedral (or even worth saving to explore for another day!), this beautiful, cobbled icon is the most complete medieval street in Norwich, lined with merchants’ houses, gorgeous homes, and shops that will take you back in time. It dates back to 1507!

It’s no wonder that with so much magic, Elm Hill has featured in multiple Hollywood blockbusters like ‘Stardust’ and Netflix’s ‘Jingle Jangle’ (with John Legend). It’s a wonderful visit any time of year, with Elm Hill’s personality changing throughout the seasons.

Be sure to stop off at the thatched Britons Arms, one of five thatched buildings in Norwich, for a coffee, afternoon tea (available for £15.99 for one or £28 for two), or a tasty evening meal on weekends. It’s a must-visit for any trip to Elm Hill!

A thatched building on the side of a cobbled street.

The Britons Arms on Elm Hill is the perfect stop while taking in the sights!

The Norwich Book Bench Trail

Norwich is a city founded on literary heritage, so much so, we were the first city in England to be named a UNESCO City of Literature! And with such a rich history of authors and their stories, it’s only right that it’s celebrated across the city in the very places that inspired them. That’s why we have our new Norwich Book Benches!

Dotted around the city, these eight benches (with a bonus ninth bench at the UEA) are all individually designed and inspired by, you guessed it, books. Some are open as if marking the place to pick up next, some are piles of books engraved with authors from our county, others are on shelves, on their spines, and so much more.

You can see all of these gorgeous book benches as part of one trail, which will take you around 1 hour 15 minutes across 5.7km, and it’s fully accessible! It’s a lovely way to spend your afternoon walk, stopping off at the shops, cafés, and restaurants on the way. Find out more about the Norwich Book Benches and the trail here!

And if you’re looking for an additional way to enjoy this literature-themed trail, you can pair it up with the National Centre for Writing’s ‘Wandering Words’ trail. Across the city, you’ll find 15 QR codes to scan to hear an immersive audio recording of a poem, as well as sounds of the people and the settings that inspired each writer’s work. It’s a brilliant trail, and has two new locations and poems being added in May in celebration of the City of Literature Weekend at Norfolk & Norwich Festival 2024. Read more about Wandering Words on the National Centre for Writing’s website, and find the trail map here!

Three people sit with books in hand on benches shaped as books made from stone.

The Norwich Book Benches are a fantastic new trail here in the City of Stories.

Plantation Garden

For locals and visitors alike, a visit to Plantation Garden should top your list of walks. Often referred to as Norwich’s ‘secret garden’, this 3-acre, Grade-II, English Heritage registered garden is tucked away right here in the city centre, so much so it even eludes those who have lived in the City of Stories their whole lives!

There’s no better place to reconnect with nature in Norwich than Plantation Garden. It’s peaceful and full of pretty plant life. Expect to see flower beds, a huge gothic fountain, woodland walkways, Victorian-style greenhouses, and so much more. And in summer months, they even have a programme of live music, family shows, outdoor cinema, plus on summer Sunday afternoons, they even offer homemade afternoon teas!

A group sit on the grass in front of an Italianate terrace, enjoying a picnic, at The Plantation Garden

The Plantation Garden is a wonderful visit, hidden away right here in Norwich.

The Sculpture Park at The Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts

If you’re looking for a truly unique walk, look no further than a visit to The Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts Sculpture Park (free). Surrounding their award-winning Norman Foster designed building at the UEA campus, you’ll find 350 acres of gorgeous parkland adorned with 20 magnificent sculptures to accompany your walk.

Featuring works by significant artists such as Henry Moore, Elisabeth Frink, Lynn Chadwick, Liliane Lijn, and Antony Gormley, you can choose to see all of these breathtaking sculptures in one bumper walk, or split them up with multiple visits across different paths because, trust us, you’ll be back.

And if you want to visit The Sainsbury Centre too, they have a universal ‘Pay If and What You Can’ ticket to enter. The first museum in the country to operate on this admission scheme, you can gain access to the Sainsbury Centre and all its exhibitions, at a price that totally suits you – even free! So, there’s really no reason to not visit.  

Sculpture at the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts

The Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts Sculpture Park is a visually stunning walking route!

Taverham Mill (About a 20-minute drive from Norwich)

One of Norfolk’s most serene nature reserves, Taverham Mill is an ideal location for an ‘outside the city’ walk. Across this 100-acre site, you’ll find spectacular views, four lakes, and old weir and mill pool, and a wonderful array of wildlife, including highland cows! Which alone should be enough to convince you to visit.

Walking through this reserve, you can take in the site’s gorgeous views across grassland, woodland, water meadow, and wildflower meadow. It’s truly wonderful. There’s also a visitor centre, toilets with baby changing facilities, a children’s play area, and well-marked paths for pushchairs or wheelchair users.

Access permits to Taverham Mill costs £5 per adult, £3 per child, and £15 for a family, with free car parking. You can buy the permits at the Taverham Mill Visitor Centre! For more information on the reserve, be sure to check out their website.

A highland cow stands in a field.

The Taverham Mill Reserve is full of wonderful wildlife!

Longer Walks

If you’re looking for a longer walk, you’re in the right place, Norwich and Norfolk have plenty of those on offer too. These next two routes are quite the adventure and may require overnight accommodation arrangements. As they also head out into the countryside, these routes may not be accessible!

Boudicca Way

Named after the legendary warrior, Boudicca Way runs for approximately 36 miles between Norwich and Diss, roughly alongside the old Roman ‘Pye’ Road that we now know as the A140.

This walk uses Public Rights of Way and quiet country roads to ensure that you’re left with nothing but the rural beauty of Norfolk’s countryside, where you’ll find unusual and rare wildlife and flora. It’s amazing!

Along your way, you’ll pass through Norfolk’s quaint villages of Shotesham, Saxlingham Nethergate, and Pulham Market, all of which are worth stopping and exploring! The area also has a strong history behind it, including Venta Icenorum, the Roman Town at Caistor St Edmunds, which was the Roman administrative centre for the area.

A group of people walk down a grass path.

Boudicca Way is the perfect long-distance walk!

Walsingham Walk

Inspired by the tradition of pilgrimage, this waymarked route is truly something special to Norwich and Norfolk. Weaving through the rural landscape that is the Wensum Valley, this 37-mile path comes from the pilgrimage routes that once saw pilgrims from Europe to North Norfolk’s ‘Shrine of Our Lady Walsingham’, which dates back to approximately 1061!

The route takes you through six villages; Ringland, Elsing, North Elmham, Great Ryburgh, Kettlestone, and, of course, Walsingham. It takes about three days to complete this walk, but it’s worth it for the sights along the way!

And those are just a few of our favourite walks around our fine city and county! For even more fantastic routes and relaxing green space recommendations in time for spring, be sure to check out our ‘walking and cycling in Norwich’ page here.