Next steps

As the Connecting Threads project comes to a close in Beachamwell we look back on a year during which we have learned –  and shared – a great deal about our local paths. Perhaps just as important has been the impact on community spirit in the village. Thanks to this project we have had the chance to work together, generate ideas, share expertise and learn new skills. The results, as seen at the Beachamwell Walking Weekend, probably surprised us all in terms of the response – not just the numbers of people turning out to walk and visit, but also the amount of praise for the variety and quality of the programme on offer.

Buoyed up by this success we now look to the future, and we are hoping that one of the main legacies of Connecting Threads will be the formation of a Beachamwell Local History Group to follow up the historical research into footpaths, which has thrown up so many other questions to explore. The Wednesday Walkers will continue their monthly rambles and will be adding to the record of wildlife seen in the parish. In the summer we hope to be able to organise some evening walks as well. Also on the cards are workshops on moth and bee identification – inspired by Mark Cocker’s talk, plus some wildlife sessions for young people.

And so the threads continue  – connected and unbroken.




First Steps: Walking Weekend kicks off

The first group of walkers set off In bright sunshine this morning. Two more groups enjoyed guided walks later in the day and the Connecting Threads exhibition in the village hall attracted plenty of visitors (and compliments).

Walkers setting out from Beachamwell Village Hall

Walkers setting out from Beachamwell Village Hall


The Walking Weekend continues with a talk by Mark Cocker this evening (sold out!), and more walks and a further opportunity to visit the exhibition tomorrow.

Visitors at the Beachamwell Connecting Threads exhibition

Visitors at the Beachamwell Connecting Threads exhibition


Flying Start

Beachamwell Village Hall was the showcase yesterday evening for the achievements of the local Connecting Threads group during the past year, when invited guests gathered to have a first look at the exhibition which is part of the Beachamwell Walking Weekend. On display were old maps, photographs, specially made videos and a record of a year walking the local footpaths.  The exhibition also includes memories of older residents and the Connecting Threads quilt, inspired by the Beachamwell countryside.  Copies of the new Beachamwell Footpath Map were available to take away.

James Parry (left) with Mark Powell and his illustrated map of Beachamwell fotopaths

James Parry (left) with Mark Powell and his illustrated map of Beachamwell footpaths

Chairman of CPRE Norfolk James Parry, officially launching  the event, said: ‘I am impressed by both the range and quality of material on view. This sets a high standard for what local voluntary groups can achieve.’


The Walking Weekend continues 5 & 6 April  – details via the link at the top of the page.

Tying up loose ends

Some of the group of stitchers have been busy putting the final touches to the Connecting Threads quilt, ready for display at the forthcoming Beachamwell Walking Weekend on
April 5 and 6.


Photo: Eileen Powell

Elsewhere other members of the Beachamwell Connecting Threads Group have been busy making sure that everything is in place for the culmination of this year-long project: walks have been given a final recce; photos printed and framed; and display panels assembled. Copies of the new footpath map leaflet  – hot off the press – are stacked up ready for distribution. The refreshment teams are polishing their urns, and sacrifices are being made to the gods of dry weather.

For more details click on the Walking Weekend link at the top of the page.

PS Mark Cocker’s talk on Saturday 5 April is sold out!



Your Chance to Choose Exhibition Photos

One of the features of the Beachamwell Walking Weekend taking place on 5 and 6 April will be an exhibition of photographs of local paths and the surrounding countryside.

Members of the Connecting Threads group in Beachamwell have been capturing the project on camera and the results are now available to view online. The photographs are organised into 10 categories (sets) including wildlife, the seasons, farming and even the ‘Unexpected’! However, because exhibition space is limited, we would like you to help to choose your favourite pictures to make the final set of 20 exhibition prints that will go on show.

Click here to see the photographs:

Vote for 2 photos in each of the 10 sets. If you are already signed up with Flickr, or have a Google or Facebook account, you can vote straight away by clicking on the star symbol in the bottom right of the chosen picture.

If you’re new to Flickr it’s easy to sign up. Go to and follow the SIGN UP FOR FLICKR link

  • Voting open to all
  • Voting ends 9 March


Beachamwell Walking Weekend

Preparations are now well in hand to celebrate the culmination of the Connecting Threads project in Beachamwell with a Walking Weekend on 5 & 6 April 2014.

As well as a programme of walks there will also be an exhibition and displays, a presentation by naturalist Mark Cocker and the launch of a brand new footpath map of Beachamwell.

Full details of the programme are now available. Follow the ‘Walking Weekend’ link or click on





Mellow Fruitfulness

It may well be the beginning of November, but summer seems to have lingered.  The hedgerows along the footpaths around Beachamwell are a riot of glorious colours in all shades of red and purple berries. These hips, haws, sloes and remaining blackberries will provide much needed food for our winter bird visitors as they arrive from colder northern climes.


Sloes – the fruits of the blackthorn with their typical whitish bloom

Blackberries - a favourite for jams and jellies

Blackberries – a favourite for jams and jellies

We too can harvest these autumn fruits to brighten our dark winter days: blackberries add flavour to many a pudding; and sloes can be transformed from their bitter taste to a wonderful warming sloe gin.





Rose hips - source of vitamin C

Rose hips – source of vitamin C

Nowadays rose hips are generally left to the birds, but during the Second World War they were main ingredient of a major industry to keep the nation’s children healthy by drinking vitamin-rich rose hip syrup.   Rose hips were also harvested in earlier times and prepared for sweet pastry fillings.  This was a long drawn-out process.  The hips were split, cleaned of seeds and hairs, and left to soak until soft enough to be sieved, mixed with sugar or honey, potted and stored until needed.


The cook also picked haws, added them to crab apples and made a jelly to serve with cold meats.

The bright red berries of the hawthorn

Haws -the bright red berries of the hawthorn

Words and Photos: Sue Pennell

Walking to School 100 Years Ago

Assuming that people in the early 1900s walked from place to place for a purpose and that in doing so they used existing paths or created new ones, it is interesting to consider why people were walking into (and out of) Beachamwell at that time.  We can imagine many of the reasons: employment, shopping, education, worship, visiting family and friends, or attending village events. The Log Book of Beachamwell CE School shows that several children walked long distances to school from across the Warren and that inclement weather could have a disruptive effect on their education, for example:

13 January 1913:  A very rough morning.  Swaffham Rd being flooded prevented a number of the Warren children from attending.

Children walking long distances also had an impact on the timing of the school day:

1 November 1909:  We commence afternoon school for the winter months at 1.20 and leave at 3.30 to enable Warren children to get home before dusk.

Pupils at Beachamwell School c1910

Pupils at Beachamwell School c1910

To find out how many children walked significant distances to school we will need to search in the Norfolk Records Office and use census returns.  As part of our oral history research, we will ask people who attended the school in the 1950s if they can recall how far children walked to school in their day.

Words: Leah Spencer

The Unexpected

The September Wednesday Walk walk revealed the unexpected as we trod the track from Swaffham to Beachamwell:
Shouldham Lane doesn’t go to Shouldham – how did it get there?

Shouldham Lane

Shouldham Lane

No cobblers along Shoemaker’s Lane, but an allotment with a warning on the gate;
A small and beautiful barn at the out-of-the-way Town Farm;
Traditional Breckland pines at Castle Acre Bottom;

Castle Acre Bottom

Pine Row at Castle Acre Bottom

And a quiet picnic site in the depth of the forest.


Forest Picnic

Thanks to Sue for words and pictures


A Stitch in Time

Planning the Quilt

Planning the Beachamwell Connecting Threads Quilt

A new stitching group has been formed, which is to focus on the ‘threads’ element of Connecting Threads by working on a commemorative quilt for the local project.  The quilt will have at its centre a fabric map of the footpaths of the parish and this will be surrounded by an array of smaller pieces depicting local buildings, flowers, wildlife etc.  Thirteen women are involved so far and already ideas for panels are coming together: abstract patchwork footpaths; tapestry church towers; woven byways; cross stitch poppies – to name but a few.  The quilt promises to be a stunning reminder, not only of exploring our footpaths, but of what creativity is sparked when we make connections.