Introducing what will be a mini-series about the West Norfolk Autism Group visit to Pensthorpe Natural Park.
Yesterday saw a West Norfolk Autism Group excursion to Pensthorpe, a nature reserve combined with a working farm a few miles from Fakenham in Norfolk took place. This post introduces what will be a mini-series about the day as I experienced it. I will be doing specific posts about the varieties of ducks and geese on show, the flamingos and cranes, the discovery centre, the sculptures (probably these last two will share one post) and the Explorer trip. The gallery for this post will feature some introductory and general pictures.
OVERVIEW OF PENSTHORPE
Pensthorpe, which was a village until the 14th century when the black death accounted for so many of its inhabitants that the survivors had no option but to up sticks and move down the road to Fakenham, which was originally the smaller of the two places is now home to a nature reserve which is involved in a number of very important conservation efforts. There is also a working farm, and a lot of the electricity the site needs is generated by solar panels on the roofs of the farm buildings – for so big a site it has a tiny carbon footprint. I was booked on the 12:00 Explorer ride (and could also have had a place on the second ride an hour later, but the weather cool, though at least it stayed dry, so I settled for one trip. Otherwise between our arrival just before 10:30, and our departure, scheduled for 3:30PM it was entirely up to me how I spent the time.
Here to complete this introductory post are some photographs…
The journey on the Pensthorpe Explorer was very scenic, and the guide provided excellent commentary. There was stuff about the area’s wildlife and things Pensthorpe do to encourage said wildlife, some local history and an explanation of the significance of the River Wensum which flows through Pensthorpe.
There were a couple of parts of the route that made use of an old railway line (aeons go part of the Midland & Great Northern, colloquially referred to as the Muddle & Go Nowhere – East Anglia was home at one time to a vast number of railway companies, with in addition to this one the five companies who ultimately amalgamated to form the Great Eastern Railway) which added to the interest of the experience.
The Wensum is of special significance because it is a chalk river, of which there only about 200 on the planet (although about 170 of those are right here in the UK, including another significant Norfolk river, The Gaywood). Unfortunately the bunch of clowns who are collectively known as Norfolk County Council are hellbent on building a new road through the Wensum valley which among other things will damage two important bat colonies (we are talking rare species of bat here). Also, as to the notion that building a new road will ease congestion, I give you one letter an two numbers appropriately arranged: M25. There is a campaign group doing their best to prevent this ghastly project from going ahead, and you can view their twitter page and also sign a petition they are running. The biggest problem that Norfolk has is not with its roads, but with the frankly scandalous state of public transport in the county, which causes people to feel compelled to drive, which in turn feeds into the county council’s ‘cars are everything’ agenda. Green Party representation is increasing in Norfolk, which provides grounds for hope that eventually the county council’s make up will change and it will move into the 21st century.
The trip on the Pensthorpe Explorer was a splendid end to a splendid day.
Here are the pictures from this section of the day:
I followed the paths onward from the Monet inspired bridge, taking a few detours along the way, until I arrived back near the entrance. I had brought food and water with me, and I consumed them at this point, and finished my book while waiting for the next stage of the day, the ride on the Pensthorpe Explorer.
The same question/challenge that I introduced yesterday’s photo section with applies today…
The West Norfolk Autism Group was established in an effort to secure more local funding for activities for autistic people and also because a degree of disillusionment with the conduct of the National Autistic Society’s head office. More details about the new group can be found on its website to which I have already linked, and also in this article published by Your Local Paper.
GETTING TO PENSTHORPE
Pensthorpe is located just off the the road from Fakenham to Norwich (the X29, the bus between Fakenham and Norwich could easily include it in their route if they wanted to, and the route of the 36 between Fakenham and Wells could be adjusted to include without massive upheaval) but I did not have to worry about working out how to get there because a coach had been hired, with a pick up point at Gaywood Tesco, within comfortable walking distance of my home in North Lynn. Those using the bus were supposed to be there for 9:30AM yesterday for a 9:45AM departure. Thus at 9AM yesterday morning I set off, with a bag containing food, water and a book and made my way to the appointed place. The ride took about 45 minutes (a law abiding driver cannot do it any quicker even in light traffic, which we benefitted from). A few minutes after arrival we were good to start our exploration. Before lunch we were going to be walking around those parts of the site that can be seen on foot, and then after that some of us were booked on the Pensthorpe Explorer to experience the rest. The rest of this post covers the first part of the exploration I did on foot.
STARTING TO EXPLORE
Once one gets past the entrance, the shop and the courtyard cafe one is confronted by an expanse of water and a range of splendid water birds which set the stage for the wonders to come. I started by heading in the direction of the cranes and flamingoes, and then headed on beyond them, eventually reaching a sign pointing to the Monet inspired bridge (Claude Monet, the great French impressionist painter, had an ornamental bridge in his garden at Giverny, which his painting made famous). The bridge is quite impressive, and it does indeed resemble the structure that inspired it.
I end this with the photographs from the section of the visit up to and including the bridge, and a question/challenge. Should I go back to creating calendars as I used to do? Please comment with answers to this question, if possible fleshed out with details of photos you would like to see featured in said calendar. To view a photo at full size click on it.