Stout walking shoes are advisable, a pair of binoculars would also be useful. Some of this walk includes country roads. Please be careful of traffic when walking on roads.
Head for the road and turn left under the railway bridge. Continue along this road until you reach Howlett's Loke on the left. Turn down this lane. It opens out with fields on the right and the station to the left. Where there is a stile when the footpath crosses the railway line, your route takes you to the right, not along the private drive, but along the clearly defined footpath, overarched with trees, and passing Redwings Farm on the left.
At the end of this section the path is waymarked Norfolk County Council Circular Walk. It curls to the left, passing a bank of woodland on the left. At the end of the wood (Hagg Wood), the walking is exposed, bisecting two huge fields. At the end of the fields, cross the main road and take the track to the right of Salhouse church which turns into a footpath. Continue until the path joins the road. Turn right and head towards the village houses, bearing left as you pass the duck pond. The road dips and at the junction, where there is a small village green, turn left and walk about 50 metres towards a small car park for Salhouse Broad, passing a thatcher's on the left just before the car park. The walk leading from the car park to Salhouse Broad takes about ten minutes and is well worth it, since this is one of the best access points for the Broads from the land. (In the summer there are often trips from the edge of the broad to Hoveton Great Broad Nature Reserve).
Retrace your steps to the car park and turn right towards the village. Continue straight past the village green, along Lower Street. At the t-junction cross straight over the track, marked as a public footpath to Salhouse station. When it joins a road again, turn right, under the railway bridge and then turn right into the station.
The Broads are home to Norfolk reed (Phragmites communis), which is known as the 'Prince of Thatch'. It is thought to be the best money can buy, lasting at least 70 years. Reed harvesting takes place in the cruellest months - December to March. Marshmen used to cut it by hand, often up to their knees in ice cold water. Today machinery does much of the work. Demand for good quality reed and sedge for thatching remains strong. Around 150,000 bundles from the Broads are harvested and sold each year.
Discovery of the Broads
It was not until the 1960s that the true origins of the Broads were discovered. Dr Joyce Lambert, a local scientist, published the findings of her research which showed that the huge shallow lakes, known as broads, were the result of peat digging over a period of about 300 years. Her research was greeted with a degree of scepticism. How could these huge broads have been dug by hand by people, without the benefit of sophisticated engineering techniques and machinery? The evidence of records was irrefutable, but even today you may find locals who claim to know better.
The peat was dug for about three centuries for fuel. Then in the 14th century the sea level gradually began to rise and over the centuries the diggings flooded and were abandoned and forgotten. From what must have been pretty unsightly scars on the landscape, there evolved an invaluable wetland habitat shaped and moulded by the patterns of human existence.
The Swallowtail Butterfly with its distinctive black and yellow colouring has become a symbol of restoration of the Broads. It is now, finally, making something of a recovery in the Broads. These butterflies were once prolific in several parts of the country, in particular at Wicken Fen in Cambridgeshire and in Suffolk, but their decline was linked with changes in landscape and habitat. The swallowtail caterpillar needs milk parsley which grows on traditionally managed fen, a habitat which has come under huge pressure in the Broads as changing patterns of working led to many hundreds of acres disappearing into worthless scrub.
Careful restoration of fens in the Broads - pulling our scrub, maintaining water quality - have created the right conditions for the return of the butterfly. On a hot sunny day you may be lucky enough to catch a glimpse - just leave your net at home.