JUST a few miles west from the wide, flat Yare Valley, lies the tighter, narrower vale of the River Tas. The rolling countryside here feels very different: as though you’ve crossed a county border rather than just a small watershed. I was picking up where I left off last August, taking the Boudicca Way footpath off Caistor Lane and heading towards Chandler Road across typically High Ash Farm country: broad grassy field edges planted with wildlife-friendly flowers. Then, climbing up Valley Farm Lane, you look back at field upon field of rape. (pictured above).
Confusingly, at the junction of Valley Farm Lane and Chandler Road, the Boudicca Way signs point in both directions. Turn left and you’re on the proper route south to Shotesham, right takes you on a diversion to the wonderful Roman remains at Caistor St Edmund.
I turned right for a simple circular, but spent a good hour exploring the environs of the old Venta Icenorum first. I haven’t been here for years and I’d forgotten quite how close the old walls are to the River Tas – although of course that’s the reason the Romans settled here in the first place. Many a family trooped around the walls, sheep grazed alongside and a wheatear perched obligingly on a fence post. Does a separate Tas Valley walk head into the distance along the left bank of this photo (right)? I leave that one for another time.
From there it’s a quick walk down to the Caistor Hall Hotel and then up Caistor Lane along some more wildlife- and pedestrian-friendly fields full of dancing orange-tip butterflies. The hum of the southern bypass never quite leaves you on this walk. But in some ways that’s part of the attraction. So much countryside, so close to the city and some socking great Roman remains into the bargain. I just wonder what the ghost of Boudicca makes of her walk heading into the enemy’s HQ.