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Norwich's Castles and Hills

Explore a fine medieval city discovering famous past residents.

Distance 4.2 miles (6.8km)

Minimum time 2hrs

Ascent/gradient 82ft (25m)

Level of difficulty Medium

Paths Pavements and footpaths

Landscape City buildings

Suggested map aqua3 OS Explorer 237 Norwich and official city maps from tourist information centre

Start/finish TG 228082

Dog friendliness Dogs should be kept on leads

Parking Forum car park on Millennium Plain

Public toilets Plenty around city, including St Peter's Street near Forum

1 Leave the car park and find the tourist information centre, housed in the Forum. This was completed in 2001, built on the site of the library which burned down in 1994. Turn right up Bethel Street to visit St Peter Mancroft Church, dating from 1430, then leave by the south door and turn left down Hay Hill to the Haymarket. Turn left where the street becomes Gentleman's Walk, and then right down the art nouveau fantasy of Royal Arcade, built in 1899.

2 Turn right at the castle and follow Farmers' Avenue past medieval St John Timberhill Church, then left into Ber Street. Go left along Thorn Lane, jig right to Raven Road, then left into St Julian's Alley and see the church dedicated to the 14th-century recluse. Turn right into King Street, admiring Dragon Hall on the corner, and continue to the Boom Towers, which you can climb to walk along the ramparts. Descend into Carrow Hill and turn right into Bracondale and Ber Street, then go left into Finkelgate, right on Queens Road, then along Surrey Street to St Stephens Street and Red Lion Street, finally reaching Castle Meadow again to visit the Castle Museum.

3 Walk down Davey Place, then turn right along Castle Street to reach London Street. Follow signs to Blackfriars and Bridewell down Victorian Swan Lane, then cross Bedford Street into Bridewell Alley, where houses date from the 17th century. The Bridewell Museum is to your right, and St Andrew's Church a little further on. Turn right into St Andrew's Street to see St Andrew's Hall and Blackfriars, which comprise part of a Dominican friary.

4 Continue to Princes Street, where Garsett House (1589) is said to have been built from timbers salvaged from the Spanish Armada. Turn left at Redwell Street, by St Peter Hungate, and walk down cobbled Elm Hill. This is Norwich at its best, highlighted by 15th-century Pettus House. Take a moment to walk down Towler's Court, to see plaques marking parish boundaries.

5 Continue along Elm Hill to the Church of St Simon and St Jude, and then into Wensum Street and Tombland and the memorial to First World War heroine Edith Cavell. Turn left at the Erpingham Gate and head for the cathedral. When you have finished exploring it and have seen Cavell's grave, walk through the cloisters and along Lower Close to Pull's Ferry.

6 Return to Lower Close then turn right on Hook's Walk, by playing fields. When you reach Bishopgate turn right, with Great Hospital and St Helen's Church on your left. Cross Bishop Bridge, built in 1340 and the oldest surviving in Norwich, into Bishopbridge Road and turn up Gas Hill to Kett's Heights, where there are fine views and a 12th-century chapel.

7 Retrace your steps over the bridge and turn right by the Red Lion, following the Riverside Walk to Cow Tower, built in 1380 as part of the town's defences. Follow the river path until a gate leads you to the 13th-century Adam and Eve pub. Pass Bishop's Palace Gate and St Martin at Palace Plain, where the dead of Kett's rebellion of 1549 are buried. At the end of Palace Street, turn left into Tombland and right past Augustine Steward House into Princes Street. When you reach St Andrew's Street, turn right into Exchange Street, then right again at the Market and back to the Forum.

The only way to appreciate medieval Norwich fully is on foot. Bronze-Age remains have been found here and there was a Roman town at Caistor St Edmund to the south. But it was during the medieval period that the city enjoyed its golden age.

When William the Conqueror arrived in 1066, Norwich was already an important borough, with its own mint, a thriving market and some light industry. The castle was started in 1067 and work on the stone keep commenced in the first half of the 12th century. The Church was not long in recognising the city's importance and Norwich became the religious centre of East Anglia in 1096, when work began on a cathedral and priory.

By the 14th century, the main part of the city was encased in thick walls, guarded by gates and towers, which meant that access to the city could be restricted - anyone who entered had to pay a toll. By the 15th century, Norwich was the largest walled city in Europe and the most important centre for worsted cloth in the country.

While you're there

The Bridewell Museum is in a building which dates from 1325 and focuses on Norwich life and history. Plenty more local history can be found in the Norwich Castle Museum and Art Gallery, housed in the fine Norman castle. Works by the Norwich School of Painters include examples of John Sell Cotman and John Crome, as well as Alfred Munnings and Edward Seago.

Where to eat and drink

You can find most things in Norwich, from spicy Thai cuisine to American-style hamburgers, as well as traditional fish and chips and pub food. An Eating Out guide is available from the Tourist Information Centre.


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