Morston Quay to Cockthorpe circular walk near Blakeney, Norfolk
Starting from the National Trust car park at Morston Quay, near Blakeney, this 5.5 mile (8km) walk weaves its way away from the coast along the Norfolk Coast Path National Trail, through woodland adjacent to a babbling river to the village of Cockthorpe.
Standing on a ridge of high land, Cockthorpe offers stunning views all around. Many free-range pigs and sheep, will be seen on this route. Also look out for purple flashes of sea lavender, silver sea purslane and sea aster.
Morston Quay Grid ref. TG006440.
Starting with your back to the Visitor Centre, head slightly right and follow the path until reaching a dog-bin on the right hand side. Bearing right at the bin, head for some wooden steps which will lead up to the coast path. The path is fairly well-defined but with many bends as you go along. Morston Greens Salt Marshes will be on your right. Walk for about 3/4 of a mile where the path will have a fairly well-defined turn to the left..
Looking out for some creeks on the right hand side, the path will make a right hand turn. After approximately 1/4 mile, look out for a lake on the left. Be careful at this point as the lake may be disguised by pond plants etc.
Morston Greens is one of the Morston Salt-marshes
Shortly after reaching a FP sign and wooden steps on the left, descend the steps and follow the path keeping the lake on your left for about 1/4 mile until reaching a kissing gate. Shortly after the gate you will reach a bridge and the Morston road. Follow the permissive path behind the hedge for 1/4 until you reach the FP sign. Turn left onto this path, which may be well overgrown in places, with a small stream on the right hand side, for about 1/2 mile crossing a wooden foot-bridge on the way.
When reaching a gate and a small footbridge you will have reached the valley of Cockthorpe Common. Stand and take in the view of the valley for a while – it’s quite impressive. The path runs through the middle and a mast and some farm buildings can be seen on the hill ahead of you. Don’t head to the mast but keep bearing to the right; the path bears right and climbs fairly steeply until eventually reaching a steel gate.
Cockthorpe Common is situated in the valley of the River Stiffkey. The steep slopes support a diverse chalk grassland flora. Unimproved chalk down-land is now rare in Norfolk and Cockthorpe Common is considered to be one of the best remaining examples. The flora is extremely rich. Herbs are abundant. Look out for salad burnet, dropwort, common rock-rose, large thyme and cowslip.
Go through the gate and continue for a short way until reaching the Cockthorpe road. The walk route turns left at this point but it is worth turning right to have a look at Cockthorpe Village and the church. If you wish to just continue the walk turn left and move on to point 6.
Probably the main building of note in Cockthorpe. Dating from 11th or 12th Centuries, All Saints’ is listed as Grade I, so although just a small humble parish church, it is recognised as being of exceptional interest. The simple church, with a short chancel, nave with south aisle and porch, and a west tower, has evolved over the centuries, with additions and reductions. The oldest remaining part of the original flint building is the lower part of the north nave wall. Both the quoins, the corners at either end of this wall, are formed of flints, with no dressed stone. In 1977 the church was declared redundant. It is still consecrated however, and since 1978 has been in the care of the Norfolk Churches Trust. There is much of interest, and a link will be found at the bot tom of this walk page so that you can read up more information at your leisure.
When you have finished in Cockthorpe Village, retrace your steps and shortly after the exit from the Cockthorpe Common exit, look out for a FP sign 100 yds on the left, leading on to a concrete path heading up to the old dis-used Langham Airfield which will be on the right-hand side. Walk past a small copse on the left and before reaching the buildings (1/4 mile or so), branch left continuing for another 1/4 mile until reaching a ‘private land’ sign and a FP sign on the right.
RAF Langham was originally opened as a satellite station to nearby RAF Bircham Newton, but became independent in 1942. Starting as just a grass strip to the north of the Langham to Cockthorpe road, it grew in size over the course of WW2. Some 20 or so different squadrons were ultimately stationed here at various times during the war, and was a base for aircraft including Beaufighters, Hurricanes, Mosquitoes and Wellingtons. It continued in operation until 1958. Now the airfield is marked only by the concrete tracks and poultry sheds which seem to dominate so many disused airfields.
Turn right onto this path running across a field for about 1/4 mile, until reaching more concrete and then bridleway called Love Lane. Continue along Love Lane for about 1/2 mile, (looking out for free-range pigs), and then after turning sharp left, continue along the grass track for 1/2 mile until reaching the main road, Morston Chase.
There is no footpath for most of this road, so turn right and carefully continue along Morston Chase until the second turning on the left leading back up to Morston Quay car park and the end of your walk.
Now take the time to have a cuppa and sausage roll before returning home.
Morston Quay Grid ref. TG006440.
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