The North Walsham and Dilham Canal Trust’s restoration project was runner up in the Restoration & Historic Environment category in the 2016 National Living Waterways Award
Pack up a picnic, grab your paddle board, kayak, dinghy, fishing rod, swimsuit, walking boots and binoculars and head for a rural and peaceful corner of north-east Norfolk where a sleeping beauty has awoken and is welcoming visitors all year round – and for free!
Restoration efforts on Norfolk’s only locked sailing canal mean that the section between Ebridge Mill pond (NR28 9NG) and Swafield Bridge is flowing again.
There are easy paths beside the North Walsham and Dilham Canal with links to the neighbouring 23.5 hectare Pigney’s Wood community woodland and the 22-mile Paston Way trail for anyone who fancies a longer hike.
The 19th-century waterway is a source of interest in all seasons and visitors may be lucky enough to spot some of the huge range of flora and fauna recorded along its banks and in the water, including kingfisher, grey wagtail, mute swan, deer, otter, little egret, water vole, and some of Britain’s most endangered moths and dragonflies. Efforts are underway, with the help of the Norfolk Wildlife Trust, to introduce the rare swallowtail butterfly in marshland along the stretch.
Weekend adventurers may find model boats plying the canal on Sunday mornings, or spot one of the North Walsham and Dilham Canal Trust’s work parties in action, restoring further stretches of the waterway, once nearly nine miles long, for the community’s benefit. If you feel inspired to get involved, ring 01603 738648 for more information.
There is an off-road parking area beside the mill pond.