This attractive market town is located in the Breckland District of Norfolk. There are some nice woodland trails to the west of the town, waterside walks through the Nar Valley to the north and miles of trails in the nearby Thetford Forest. The Peddars Way and Norfolk Coast Path National Trail also runs just to the east of the town, providing an opportunity to explore the surrounding countryside on a good waymarked trail. You may also recognise the town as the setting for the ITV1 series Kingdom, starring Stephen Fry. Kingdom's office is Oakleigh House, near the town square in what is known as Market Shipborough in the series.
The town is also notable for its fine Georgian buildings and the very fine church of St Peter and Paul which dates from the medieval period.
This walk takes you from the town to Swaffham Heath and Cockley Cley Wood, to the west of the town. The walk starts on the western side of the town where you can follow Shouldham Lane west towards Swaffham Heath. Follow the trails south and they will take you through woodland to Cockleycley Heath and Woods. Here you'll find the 12th century Norman chapel of St Mary's and a series of pretty lakes which are good ford birdwatching.
After exploring the village the route returns to Swaffham on the same paths.
Swaffham Ordnance Survey Map - view and print off detailed OS map
Swaffham Open Street Map - view and print off detailed map
Swaffham OS Map - Mobile GPS OS Map with Location tracking
Swaffham Open Street Map - Mobile GPS Map with Location tracking
The White Hart is a good choice for some refreshments after your walk. They have a good menu and sun trap beer garden for warmer days. The pub is located on the market place at a postcode of PE37 7NP for your sat navs.
The woodland trails on the route are ideal for a dog walk and the White Hart mentioned above is also dog friendly.
Further Information and Other Local Ideas
If you continue south west from Cockley Cley you will soon come to the National Trust's Oxburgh Hall. This 15th century moated manor house is surrounded by parkland and woodland with a number of waymarked walking trails to follow.
Head about a mile or so east of the town and you can pick up the Peddars Way and Norfolk Coast Path National Trail. You could follow the trail south to North Pickenham and Little Cressingham.
Head a couple of miles north from the town and you can visit one of the historical highlights of the area at Castle Acre. Here you'll find the atmospheric ruins of and 11th century castle and priory. There's also some lovely waterside trails along the River Nar through the picture postcard village. The long distance Nar Valley Way can pick picked up here too.
There's more fascinating local history to be found at the nearby Castle Rising near King's Lynn. Here you'll find the ruins of an English Heritage owned castle surrounded by impressive earthworks. The pretty little village of the same name is also well worth exploring. Just to the north of the village you'll also find Sandringham Country Park. The expansive park surrounds the Queen's famous country retreat. In the park you'll find miles of excellent woodland and parkland walking trails. On the western side of the estate there's also the interesting village of Wolferton. Here you can visit the noteworthy Wolferton Railway Station. The now disused station was well known during the 1800’s through its association with the Royal Family who used the station because of its proximity to Sandringham House. There are also trails to pick up around the Dersingham Bog Nature Reserve in this area. The reserve is part of the wider Sandringham Royal Estate and includes attractive heathland with interesting flora and fauna to see.
Bawsey Country Park is also located nearby and has some lovely parkland and lakes with excellent wildlife spotting opportunites. Just north of the park you'll find purple heather and Dartmoor ponies on Roydon Common.
For more walking ideas in the area see the Norfolk Walks page.