Walking Guide: Castle Acre Priory and Castle Circular Walk
Beginning at the rare survival of a Norman castle in the village of Castle Acre, this walk follows roads and tracks through the picturesque Nar Valley in Norfolk.
|DISTANCE||6 miles (10km). Allow four hours including visits to the castle and priory.|
|TERRAIN||A gentle walk on established footpaths, crossing a wooded river valley and open fields|
|TRANSPORT||Small free car park available via Pye's Lane. Castle postcode PE32 2XB.|
|FOOD & DRINK||Pubs and cafes can be found in Castle Acre village. Hot drinks and snacks available from the priory, and picnics are welcome.|
|ACCESS & DOGS||Dogs are welcome on leads. Priory accessible via smooth grass and tarmac paths. Access from castle car park is via steps.|
|MAP REFERENCE||OS Explorer 236|
Before you start...Visit the Norman Castle
The trail starts near the Norman castle. This free-to-visit site was founded soon after the Battle of Hastings by the first William de Warenne, a close associate of William the Conqueror. It is a superb and well-preserved example of a motte-and-bailey castle, and remains one of the most impressive Norman earthworks in the country.
After your visit, begin by following the footpath waymarked Nar Valley Way until you reach a pond.
1kmSouth Acre & the Priory
Turn left and walk through the kissing gate along the waymarked trail. Head southwest towards the small village of South Acre, keeping the River Nar to your left and crossing it by a ford. At this point, there is an excellent view of the ruins of the Cluniac priory just to the north.
2.5kmWoods and Roman Road
Follow the waymarking through a wood and on until you crest a hill at a crossroads.
The trail leads through a couple more crossroads on to an ancient drove road that was used in Roman times, passing Bartholomew’s Hills Plantation on your right.
This next section is waymarked as the Peddars Way. From South Acre, pass the village’s church and South Acre Hall before following tracks through pastoral farmland above the Knar valley to arrive just east of West Acre.
9.5kmCastle Acre Common
At West Acre head east along the Nar Valley Way back towards the village of Castle Acre. The route passes through Castle Acre Common, designated an Site of Special Scientific Interest.
10kmBack to the village
Beyond Castle Acre Common, the route passes north of the entrance to the Cluniac priory just before entering Castle Acre village. Then, after skirting 12th-century St James’ Church, the track peters out into a grassy path that skirts the 13th-century stone Bailey Gate.
FinishIn castle acre village
Turn left and walk along the lane, past the old castle gate, to the village green for refreshments in the village.
Remember to allow time to visit Castle Acre Priory, one of the largest and best preserved monastic sites in England and dating back to 1090.
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