On 17th April join Journeying for a Walk on the Fringe from St. Andrew Eaton to St. Walstan's Well and Shrine at Bawburgh.
You might describe it as, “a walk on the edge .” From start to finish the sound of traffic and distant sirens provided background noise. I chose to begin my walk from the car park next to St. Mary’s, Earlham, by the bridge on the B1108. You could choose to make the walk longer by starting by the old bridge at Eaton or even at Marston Lane.
The path follows a crystal clear River Wensum as it skirts the south of Norwich’s built environment. It goes through Eaton, by the University, then past Earlham and Bowthorpe housing estates.
I was on my way to pay respects to St.Walstan at his shrine and holy well at Bawburgh. Born to wealth and royalty, the saint lived a life of prayer and poverty, choosing to support himself a farm worker. (You could describe him as a Franciscan before St. Francis!) He had known this landscape. But how it has changed! As I sat on the new brick wall of the ancient holy well, I wondered what he would recognise.
Were there stone churches at Earlham, Bawburgh and Colney? I had seen Colney’s round tower peeping through the trees on the opposite bank. All three buildings incorporate late Saxon work so they would have been quite new. But there were certainly no electricity pylons! Nor discarded supermarket trolleys! Nor, even, Egyptian geese!
He would have felt at home with sheep in green pastures, as he passed through the water meadows, but he might have been surprised at the comparative lack of wild flowers. Work is newly in hand to manage the meadows to support a diverse range of flora and fauna. They already carry a wide variety of birds butterflies and dragonflies and the river its self abounds with life. So thank God for DEFRA schemes
and the Norwich Fringe Project who look after access and have a care for conservation.
Maybe townscapes and pylons don’t have much of an aesthetic appeal but a willow warbler sang his heart out from an electricity cable. I can’t imagine Walstan unmoved by that, nor the joy of Bawburgh churchyard rich with flowers.
From Bowthorpe the path runs along the road and turns left into Bawbugh Road to go under the by-pass. Once in Bawburgh turn left over the bridge and take the first right, by the village sign, up the hill to the church.
Although the church is kept locked a key can be had from Mr. Munro, who lives just down the hill at Flint Cottage, Church Street.