Around Hardley Flood from Chedgrave
Head-high reeds rustle all around as you walk from Loddon between the River Chet and Hardley Flood.
If you are interested in hidden gems of architecture then Loddon is the place for you, with buildings ranging from a medieval church to some of the largest council houses built to house the London overspill after World War II.
Handsome Holy Trinity Church, on Church Plain, dates from the end of the 15th century – the height of Gothic Perpendicular – and is beautifully light and airy. Its showpiece is the two-storey porch with a spiral staircase and gorgeous carvings. The library, dating from the mid-19th century, was originally a school and was converted to its present use in the 1970s.
Attractive 17th- and 18th-century houses line the High Street, including one curiously called The Institute. Loddon House is perhaps the most ambitious building. It dates from 1711 and has five bays and a glorious collection of columns. It is not to be confused with Loddon Hall, which is located a mile (1.6km) southeast of the village.
Charming council homes
When Loddon became one of the many towns designated for new housing estates to help solve the post-war accommodation crisis, the Lowestoft architects Herbert Taylor and David Green were commissioned to design single-storey retirement homes. Those built in Davy Place are charming, and the 78 homes in Hobart Road, Crossway Terrace and Drury Lane are spacious and of interest. The architects of many other council estates have not been so sensitive, and maybe they should visit Loddon to see that council guidelines and limited finances need not always produce dull results. Loddon is famous for its watermill. This glorious building spans the River Chet and comprises a weather-boarded mill – dating mostly from the 18th century, although parts are older – with an early 19th-century house attached to it. It is not open to the public.
This walk takes you through some of Norfolk's most attractive countryside, giving a taste of the silent and mysterious Broads and peaceful farmland, as well as sampling the delights of watching the boats jostle and jangle on their moorings along the banks of the busy River Chet.
Turn right past the library on to Bridge Street and walk down the hill to cross the river into Chedgrave. At the White Horse go right, then look for the public footpath on your right immediately after the row of terraced houses, where there is a short length of railing along the kerb. Meet a residential street, cross it to the footpath which runs between hedges opposite, and continue to Chedgrave Church. Follow the footpath until you meet a lane.
Turn right, passing a meadow on your left before going through a small gate at the public footpath sign. Continue on the path along the north bank of the River Chet.
Continue along the river path. Depending on the growth of reeds, you may be able to see that you are on a causeway here, with the Chet on your right and the meres that comprise Hardley Flood on your left. It is well worth pausing here if you are interested in birding, since the Norfolk Wildlife Trust has erected nesting areas in the water, and there is a public hide on the footpath from which you can observe the abundant birdlife. Continue along this path until broad gives way to farmland and you can see Hardley Hall off to your left. The path then goes through a final gate to meet a wide farm track.
Turn left on the farm track. Go up a hill, passing Hill Cottage on your right-hand side, then Hardley Hall on your left. The farm track ends here at a lane. Continue straight ahead on a bridleway towards some woodland. Walk along this lane until you reach Lower Hardley Road and a sign pointing left to Loddon. (Don't be tempted to take the left-hand footpath further down the road, which heads to Chedgrave Common.) Ignore Pits Lane on the left, signed 'No Through Road', and continue walking to the gravelled drive on the left.
Take this turning, signposted to the church. When you reach the church, look for the grassy footpath to the right which leads back towards the road. Retrace your steps along the footpath, go left on the main road, across the river and walk up the hill to the car park.
Footpaths along waterways, farm tracks, paved roads
Reed-fringed riverside and lakeside, farmland
On lead, especially around Hardley Flood nature reserve
AA Walker's Map 22 The Norfolk Broads
Car park (pay-and-display) on Church Plain in Loddon (opposite Holy Trinity Church); or Loddon Staithe car park (pay-and-display) near river
At both car parks
Walking in safety
Read our tips to look after yourself and the environment when following this walk.
Also in the area
About the area
The North Norfolk Coast is designated an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and probably the finest of its kind in Europe. Here you’ll find a string of quaint villages and small towns – Holkham, Wells-next-the-Sea and Cley next the Sea are 21st-century favourites, while Sheringham and Cromer are classic examples of a good old-fashioned seaside resort where grand Victorian hotels look out to sea. Further round the coast you'll find Great Yarmouth, one of the most popular resorts in the UK and packed full of amusements, shops and seashore entertainment. And let's not forget Norwich, the region's only city.
Norfolk prides itself on its wealth of historic houses, the most famous being Sandringham, where Her Majesty the Queen and her family spend Christmas. Many of Norfolk’s towns have a particular charm and a strong sense of community. The quiet market towns of Fakenham and Swaffham are prime examples, as well as Thetford, with its popular museum focusing on the TV comedy series Dad’s Army which was filmed in the area.