The Pingo Trail. Not to be confused with Pingu, the cartoon penguin. There are no penguins in Norfolk. There are lots of pingos though.
‘Pingos were originally low hillocks that formed 20,000 years ago during the last ice age when water beneath the surface froze to form lenses of ice pushing soil upwards. During the summer thaw, the soil on the surface would sludge off and accumulate around the periphery of the hillocks. Shallow craters were left when the ice finally melted, causing the hillocks to collapse.’ (Countryside Access)
So today, a lovely sunny autumn day where the sun stays low and breeze is fresh, I went for a walk along the Great Eastern Pingo Trail. It’s an 8 mile circular walk in Norfolk (more like 10 miles if you go the wrong way). It starts in Thompson, follows the disused Thetford-Swaffham railway line, connects up with the Peddars Way footpath and then loops back via Thompson Water, a shallow lake where swans swim.
I’ve walked this section of the Peddars Way before, but the footpath along the railway was beautiful surrounded by the autumn colours and fallen leaves. The area is divided by drainage ditches, man’s attempts over the centuries to turn the water-logged swampy ground into something useable, and the blue sky reflected brightly in the pools of water.
The Peddars Way was pretty muddy, but past Thompson lake, the trail winds through the woodland. There’s a small lookout / hide to watch the birds on the lake, although it’s a bit hard to see through the vegetation. And then after that, I’m not too sure. Somewhere along the way we lost the trail and ended up walking past a farm and back onto the Peddars Way. So much for my skills in navigation. The extra couple of miles wasn’t a hardship though and it’s a good excuse to come back and see the bit of trail I missed.
There’s more about this walk on the Norfolk Countryside Access website as well as 75 other short circular walks throughout the county.