Council looks for permanent alternative route for closed section of Wherryman’s Way

The section of the Wherryman's Way in Chedgrave which has been closed.

The section of the Wherryman's Way in Chedgrave which has been closed. - Credit: Nick Butcher

An alternative route is being sought for a stretch of the Wherryman’s Way footpath following its closure last year.

The area around Hardley Flood - between Loddon, Chedgrave and Hardley - which forms part of the 35-mile footpath between Norwich and Great Yarmouth, was closed by Norfolk County Council at the end of last year due to the erosion of two bridges and the path becoming unstable.

Around 100 people attended an open meeting in Loddon last Thursday to discuss the closure, where a presentation was given by Russell Wilson, senior trails officer for the county council, supported by Adrian Clarke from the Broads Authority.

The council representatives said that they did not have any responsibility to maintain the bank on which the footpath rests and that it would cost around £280,000 to repair the damaged bridges and up to £2m for the whole bank.

Four options were presented at the meeting, with the latter being to extinguish that part of the footpath.

Chedgrave resident Andrew Milner, who attended the meeting and has been walking the route for the past 25 years, said: “They proposed to extinguish the path from the weir at the Chedgrave end of Hardley Flood to Hardley Hall Road - this is the entire length of Hardley Flood.

“If it is extinguished, a valued and much-loved local walk will be lost and what is generally seen as the best part of the entire Wherryman’s Way. The diversion onto a road is a poor substitute.”

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A spokesman for Norfolk County Council said the Wherryman’s Way trail remains open but on a different route than before because of the instability of the bank.

They added: “With no statutory body responsible for the maintenance of the riverbank and an estimated cost of £1.5m to £2m to repair it, we don’t believe there is any other option than to seek a permanent alternative route.

“We are looking at options for the future and there is a signed diversion route, using existing Public Rights of Way where possible, to bypass the affected section for the time being.”

Loddon parish councillors have been campaigning for work to be started to reopen the route, along with Colin Gould, South Norfolk councillor for the Loddon ward.

Parish clerk Christine Smith said the council was disappointed that there had not been more progress on reopening the section.

There were also concerns from boatyard owners who are worried that by not maintaining the bank it will slip into the river, damaging their own and other businesses in Loddon that are reliant on boat-based tourism.

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