The Hereward Way is a 110-mile long-distance path that stretches from Oakham in the west to Harling Road, near Thetford, in the east. On the way it passes through three distinct types of scenery: the western third negotiates beautiful villages made of rosy limestone that glint in the sun; the middle of the trail crosses the flat Fenlands, whilst the eastern part crosses classic Breckland terrain and skirts Thetford Forest.
The trail is named after Hereward the Wake, who in 1071 made one of the final stands against William the Conqueror on the Isle of Ely. It is alleged that he and hos men held out for over eight years before the Conqueror finally found a way across the marshes. The remoteness of the trail as it heads between the cathedral cities of Peterborough and Ely is unusual in the south of England, with the sparse villages widely spread apart.
It is an easy trail with few gradients to trouble anyone. Public transport to the west of Ely is good; to the east it becomes more problematic.
Map of the trail
Maps courtesy of Google Maps. Route for indicative purposes only, and may have been plotted after the walk. Please send me have comments you may have on what you think of this new format.
Sadly I know of no books about the Hereward Way. If you know of any, then please let me know.
Further information (websites)
The following websites detail the trail:
A superb on-line guide to the trail, including directions. It is highly recommended. Many thanks to Peterborough Ramblers for producing this guide. - www.visitely.org.uk
The western two-thirds of the trail are very well supported by the railway line that runs from Ely to Leicester; there are intermediate stations at Oakham, Stamford, Peterborough and March. There is also a station at Manea, but this is a few miles to the south of Welney. THese stations make it fairly easy to plan this long part of the trail.
The eastern end of the trail is a different matter, despite the fact that it more or less follows the Ely to Norwich railway line. Although the stations at Brandon and Thetford (the latter a couple of miles off the trail) get regular services, some of the other intermediate stations such as Shippea Hill, Lakenheath and Harling Road see far less frequent services.
The following schedules are advisory. They indicate various ways that the trail can be split up into walks of several lengths, with convenient end-points for each day's walk.
Naturally, you may want to alter this according to whether you are staying in B&B's, hostels, camping or are doing the walk in sections and are relying on public transport. Your own walk will probably vary from the itineraries shown below.
Fortunately the good public transport on the western half of the Hereward Way makes a flexible schedule easier than on may trails; additionally the extremely flat nature of the land allows a fit person to walk longer distances than usual each day.
There are tourist information offices or centers at the following locations:
Additionally, Norwich tourist information office will cover the very eastern end of the trail in Norfolk.
When to walk
The Hereward Way would make a good walk at any time of year; note, however, that the stretch over the Welney Washes (between March and Ely) can be blocked by floodwaters for weeks during the winter. See the relevant leg (Welney to Ely) for more information.