Alma Mater - UEA and Norwich - Day Six & Seven


Photo 1: Bittern in Norwich Castle Museum (May 2024)

Day six was spent with our son & daughter-in-law in and around Norwich since this was their first experience of the city. The morning was spent in Norwich Castle Museum and Art Gallery. There is an admission charge (£7.80 per adult, with a rather measly £0.40 off for us oldies). It is an excellent museum - if we were Norwich residents then we would happily buy an annual pass (£44 for senior citizens) and visit every week!

One reason to come to Norfolk is the opportunity to spot a bittern in one of the many wetland reed beds that abound in the fens and broads. Notoriously shy, the booming call of the male is likely to be your only 'experience' of this bird. From disastrously low numbers in the 1990s, the bittern has staged a remarkable recovery thanks to nature conservancy and habitat restoration. Needless to say, despite a boat trip on the broads (see below), stuffed museum examples was the closest we got to seeing a bittern.

Due to ongoing work at the Castle Museum, some sections were not open to the public. By way of recompensation, the entrance fee to the museum also included free entry to Brideswell Museum, dedicated to the history and development of the City of Norwich. Well worth a visit in its own right.

In the late evening sunshine, we paid a short visit to The Plantation Garden, adjacent to The Cathedral of St John the Baptist - one of two cathedrals in Norwich with this one being the Roman Catholic version.

Photo 2: The Plantation Garden, Norwich (May 2024)

Photo 3: The Plantation Garden, Norwich (May 2024)

Photo 4: The Plantation Garden, Norwich (May 2024)

For our final day in Norwich, I booked a boat trip on the Southern Comfort paddle boat. It is difficult to get a good view of the Norfolk Broads from dry land so I would always recommend getting on the water. Hourly and daily boat hire is available if you want to do your own thing or there are public trips like this one.

Photo 5: Southern Comfort Paddle Boat

The 1½ hour trip costs £10 pp which seemed good value (there was also a booking charge of £1.92 - a somewhat unusual amount?). The captain provided a comedic commentary of life on the river but didn't spot/hear a bittern! There was plenty of other life out on the river. Boats of all types and sizes ...

Photo 6: Sailing Boats, Horning, River Bure (May 2024)

Photo 7: Pleasure Craft heading to Ranworth Broad (May 2024)

Wildlife including greylag geese and swans (but no bitterns) ...

Photo 8: Swan & Cygnets, River Bure (May 2024)

And expensive riverside properties with their own moorings ...

Photo 9: Riverside Properties, River Bure (May 2024)

Photo 10: Riverside Properties, River Bure (May 2024)

There were a small number of ocean-going yachts chugging along the river - it takes about an hour to get to the sea near Great Yarmouth.

We took a small detour to Ranworth Church on our way back to Norwich ...

Photo 11: Inside Ranworth Church (May 2024)

... a local landmark with a visitor centre serving food and drink. Unfortunately, due to a shortage of volunteers, the visitors centre was closed. So, we had a look around the pretty church with its impressive rood screen. Three of us (Mary sensibly did not join us) then proceeded to scale the 96 foot tower for wonderful views over Ranworth Broad and the surrounding countryside. This task is not for the faint-hearted or anyone with mobility issues. There are 89 (seemed a lot more) uneven stone steps up a spiral staircase, followed by metal then wooden ladders and, finally, a heavy trapdoor.

Photo 12: The Climb up Ranworth Tower (Credit)

The effort is worth it for the magnificent views from the top ...

Photo 13: Ranworth Broad from the tower of Ranworth Church (May 2024)

Photo 14: Ranworth Broad from the tower of Ranworth Church (May 2024)

Photo 15: View from the tower of Ranworth Church (May 2024)

A lack of hills and mountains makes East Anglia, and Norfolk in particular, a place where the sky dominates the views. This is very obvious from Photos 13, 14 & 15.

To give you an idea of how high up we are at the top of Ranworth Church tower, here is a photo of Mary at ground level ...

Photo 16: Mary from the top of Ranworth Church Tower

Just down the road from Ranworth Church is Fairhaven Gardens - recommended by one of our Norwich friends. We didn't have enough time to visit the gardens but, luckily, the cafe was still open for refreshments.

Dinner was booked at Namaste Village, a short walk from our digs. Great food, great service. Book to avoid disappointment.


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