Link to Cycle ride 3

The Marriott's Way

The Marriott's Way is a peaceful and secluded walk along the former railway line between Hellesdon, on the north-west fringe of Norwich, and Aylsham. It passes through typical lowland arable fields, woods and water meadows near to the river Wensum, before going on to the slightly higher and drier lands beyond Reepham. The Way is 21 miles long, and is available to walkers, horseriders and cyclists. The whole route is waymarked in the brown and cream livery colours of the former Midland and Great Northern Railway (M&GN), which once operated one of the lines that now form the Marriott's Way.

At Hellesdon, Marriott's Way joins the Norwich Riverside Walk, which runs for 5 miles through the heart of the City to the Boom towers near Carrow Bridge. At Aylsham, the Way joins the Bure Valley Walk, which runs for 9 miles through the river valley to Hoverton, beside the narrow gauge railway. Another path goes off to the north between Cawston and Aylsham, and joins up with the 56 mile Weavers' Way, a countryside route running between Cromer and Great Yarmouth.

The History of the lines

The Marriott's Way originally consisted of two lengths of railway, from Themblethorpe to Aylsham, and from Themblethorpe to Norwich. These were joined by the so-called 'Themblethorpe curve' in 1960.
The Themblethorpe-Norwich length was built in 1882, as part of a line running to Melton Constable, by the Lynn and Fakenham Railway Company, which was taken over by the M&GN in 1893. This line gave a through route to the Midlands. The Themblethorpe-Aylsham line was completed by the Great Eastern Railway in 1883 to provide a link between its other lines at Wroxham and County School, near North Elmham.

The lines were never very profitable, as there were too few people living in the service area and not enough freight movement opportunities. Freight services were largely based on the movement of farm products, especially livestock, grain and sugar beet but these declined as markets were lost and local road transport improved. Concrete product movements from Lenwade were important so that when the local rail network was rationalised in 1959, the section from Lenwade via Themblethorpe to Norwich was kept open by construction of the Themblethorpe Curve. Once concrete production ceased, there was no reason to keep the line open so it was closed in 1985.

The route is named after William Marriott who was chief engineer and manager of the M&GN system for 41 years. Marriott was based at and lived in the village of Melton Constable, which was then a sizeable town and the main depot of the M&GN system. To maximise efficiency Marriott had a railway saloon that served as a 'mobile office' in which he could travel around the railway system. His activities included all aspects of railway work, ranging from the design and construction of locomotives to the purchase of bricks for bridge building. He also introduced the use of concrete fence posts, and set up and ran a concrete factory in Melton Constable to produce them. Some of the gatekeepers' houses on the Way include large blocks
made at Melton Constable.

Below you will find links to four cycle rides that my sons and I enjoyed in the late 1990's cycling the
Marriott's way. Each one is a Reflection of the day including some of the photographs which we took along the way. Initially I wrote them so my family and I could look back with fondness in years to come
and remember the fun we had on those summer days. My original cycle ride diary's included archive pictures and illustrations of some of the sites we visited on the Marriott's Way, so that we could make visual comparisons. Unfortunately I'm unable to included these because of copyright.

Link to Cycle ride 3