Peddars Way: Almost Roman

Peddars7 25 March 22

Black oil beetle, wandering in the north Norfolk dust. As a larva, this beetle climbed into a flower and waited for a solitary bee, hooking itself onto its unwitting host and hitching a ride to its nest. There it ate the eggs, pollen and nectar and slowly grew into an adult, ready to emerge on the Peddars Way.

Peddars Way

Back on the trail after a winter hiatus. The final quarter of the 46 miles is quiet save for skylarks, and you can imagine, if you choose, the legionnaires’ feet of 2,000 years ago. Where were they heading? To a coast of fitful weather and colourful cliffs?

Some have called it the Roman road to nowhere; it was built to intimidate the rebellious Iceni, rather than to obviously link towns. Today it is flanked by blackthorn, one of our fiercest shrubs – albeit its thorns are cloaked with beauty in springtime.

Peddars1 25 March 22

Norfolk has no mountains, but in the north the trail rises through arable fields and falls once more, rolling over the bumps of moraine dumped by the icesheets long ago. In little villages, ducks sleep and chickens keep watch.

Peddars3 25 March 22

Peddars4 25 March 22

And then the road ends in a glory of sand and salt.

Peddars6 25 March 22

Or does it? The coast has eroded southwards in the last two millennia and Romans would have had to march a little further to glimpse the North Sea. We do not know what was at the end; possibly a ferry port across the Wash to Lincolnshire.

But back to the south for me.


A few comments about Peddars Way for anyone else considering walking the National Trail. The first leg starting from the south includes a very dangerous road crossing (over the A11!) which should be avoided, possibly by beginning at Stonebridge. In general it is an easy trail to walk and well-signposted, and wildlife and historic landscapes are abundant.

12 thoughts on “Peddars Way: Almost Roman

  1. This looks like a beautiful area to explore. Your black oil beetle is a nasty one, eating the unborn children of its host. I think I’d rather have the bees. But thanks for the info. I knew nothing about these oily critters before reading your post, Adele.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oil beetles don’t win the ‘best guest’ stakes but for conservationists, they’re considered a bit of a canary in the coal mine – their specialised lifecycles mean that they are vulnerable when land is mismanaged. Three species have gone extinct in the UK and the others are declining, along with their bees.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Okay, I’ll begrudgingly accept the canary idea. I’m worried about our bees. (I wish the “canaries” wouldn’t eat the bee-babies; it’s hard enough for them to survive without that.)


    1. I highly recommend it. Following in the footsteps of Romans, with other – much older – archaeological relics along the way, and some very special places for wildlife. We have 15 or so long distance national trails in England, plus the Coast Path. Peddars Way is one of the easiest. No wading through bogs or scrambling up mountain scree!

      Liked by 1 person

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