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.
Leave Worstead station via the car park and turn left onto the main road. In the distance you will be able to see Worstead church. Follow this road for about half a mile and then take the well-trodden footpath to the right which heads towards a line of tall conifers. The path goes between these trees. Cross the playing field to the back of the village hall. Go through a gate, turning left towards the church and then right out of the playing field gate, heading straight through the New Inn pub car park with the church on your left.
At the end of the car park you reach a road. Turn left, cross the square and go straight over the crossroads into School Road. This road heads out of the village, past the small village school on the crown of a bend. Stay on the road which forks round to the right and continue on this road until you come to a waymarked footpath on the left, cutting across a wide open field. Cut through the hedge at the end of the field (marked with a white painted post) and continue to follow the path through the next field, over a bridge over a dyke. A waymarked path cuts off to the left - do not take this, but continue straight ahead along the path which runs on the left hand side of a hedge. Stay on this path as it follows the edge of the field. It turns into a track, bends to the right and turns into a narrow road which passes through an underpass under the main road.
When you come out of the underpass, turn right onto the Weavers' Way which climbs up onto an embankment. Follow this way until it reaches a small lane, recognisable as an old level crossing. Turn right onto this lane and at the t-junction turn left. Walk down this road until you reach a bridge which crosses what remains of the North Walsham and Dilham Canel. Having looked and imagined how it must have been a century ago, retrace your steps and turn left into White Horse Lane. Stay on this twisting country lane until you reach an old barn. Take the waymarked footpath to the right across the field, heading once again towards Worstead Church.
At the end of the field, cross the main road and take the road ahead into the village. Take the left fork just after the village sign into Barnards Road. Stay on this road until it bears to the right. Your way lies down a waymarked track straight ahead. This track goes past a barn, and then you need to take the footpath to the right across a big field, heading back into the village and towards the church.
At the end of the field, turn right into Horning Row. Turn left at the church and then turn right into the churchyard. Take the steps at the end of the churchyard and straight into the playing field. Re-trace your steps across the playing field, along the footpath and turn left when you reach the road. This heads back to the station and your starting point.
1. Worstead and the Wool Trade
Visiting the small village of Worstead today, it is hard to imagine that it was once a thriving town, where bustling hiring markets were held, wealthy merchants built comfortable spacious homes, and towns people thanked God for their prosperity at two churches. The source of this good life was the wool trade, for in and around the fields of this part of the area, grazed many sheep, whose fleeces provided warmth and comfort for the very best of Norfolk's gentry. The wool trade was initially a marriage of convenience between two countries - East Anglia had abundant supplies of wool, and the Low Countries had skilled weavers who could turn our wool into fine cloth. The fabric they wove became known as Worstead, after the village where many of them settled, a fabric which was to make Norwich and Norfolk the centre of the textile industry for many years. In its hey-day, weaving brought artisans a good living in Worstead, and the village flourished for over 500 years. By 1830 the weekly wage was between 20 and 25 shillings, but progress in the form of power driven looms from Yorkshire sounded the death knell for the Norfolk business and by 1882 the last weaver in the village called John Cubitt died aged 91.
2. Worstead Festival
Today the village of Worstead is locally well-known for its three-day summer festival of spinning, weaving and rural crafts. The festival was started in the 1960's as a way of raising money to restore the beautiful parish church of St Mary's. The festival centres on the church, a magnificent building which dominates the village and is a landmark for many mile around.
3. Weaver's Way
The Weaver's Way is a 56-mile long distance walk, developed by Norfolk County Council, to take in many of the towns, villages and landscapes which were once at the heart of the county's flourishing wool and weaving trade. Aylsham, North Walsham, Stalham and other smaller villages were all part of the great cottage industry which characterised the trade from medieval times until the advent of the powered loom in the 19th century. The walk takes you through some wonderfully contrasting countryside - from the hilly woods and sandy beaches of north Norfolk to the enchanting wetland landscape of the Broads. If you are really ambitious, you can walk the Weaver's' Way starting at Great Yarmouth, finishing at Cromer and then join the Norfolk Coast Path. A leaflet for this walk is available from most Tourist information Centres or Norfolk County Council's Countryside Unit.