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Rare chance to visit hidden locks during canal tours

PUBLISHED: 15:51 28 August 2018 | UPDATED: 15:51 28 August 2018

A fisherman by the canal. Pictures: North Walsham and Dilham Canal Trust.

A fisherman by the canal. Pictures: North Walsham and Dilham Canal Trust.

Archant

A rare chance to visit two canal locks usually hidden from public view, a walk packed with heritage and wildlife, and a boat trip are on offer as part of Heritage Open Days events.

Remains of one of the Swafield locks. Pictures: North Walsham and Dilham Canal Trust.Remains of one of the Swafield locks. Pictures: North Walsham and Dilham Canal Trust.

Experts from the North Walsham and Dilham Canal Trust are inviting the public to join them on September 15 and 16 for a Walk and Water guided tour.

The trips will begin with a visit to two locks at Swafield which lie on private land along the 19th-century waterway.

Walkers will then follow the canal for three miles to Ebridge Mill pond, passing many interesting features along the way including a Norfolk Wildlife Trust woodland, bridges, a former canal-side pub, evidence of wartime defences, and the restored Bacton Wood lock.

The trust’s trip boats will be operating between Spa Common and Ebridge at a one-way cost of £3 per passenger. At Ebridge passengers can be driven back to their vehicles parked at Swafield.

Volunteers at work on one of the secret Swafield locks. 
Pictures: North Walsham and Dilham Canal Trust.Volunteers at work on one of the secret Swafield locks. Pictures: North Walsham and Dilham Canal Trust.

The walks will begin at 10.30am each day with expected arrival at Ebridge by 2pm. Booking is essential, telephone 01328 862435. There is no charge for the walks but donations to the trust would be welcomed.

The North Walsham and Dilham Canal was originally nearly nine miles long. The North Walsham and Dilham Canal Trust, formed in 2008, is hoping to restore about 7.5 miles and four of the original six locks.

The canal stretches from Antingham ponds, north-west of North Walsham, to Wayford Bridge, north-west of Stalham, and the waterway is Norfolk’s only sailing canal with locks.

About 100 navvies from Bedfordshire started building work on the canal in 1825 and it opened the following year, 1826.

It was used by wherries to transport cargo to and from mills and communities along its route, and the last wherry, Ella, sailed the canal in 1934.

Heritage Open Days (HODs) is England’s biggest free heritage festival. This year, a record-breaking 330 events are taking place across Norwich and Norfolk, celebrating our county’s history, heritage, architecture and culture.

These events were organised too late for inclusion in the official HODs booklet.

Visit: www.nwdct.org for more information.

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