History walk 18: The footpath along the rond of the River Thurne from TG425187 to TG461200
Physical Character and Historical Ecology
This footpath may have existed for centuries but was firmly established by the Enclosure Commissioners under the Martham Enclosure which took place between 1807 and 1812. Under the Act the river bank was required to be raised to prevent flooding and also made broader.
In recent years it has been strengthened and widened and the ditch on the south side has been moved farther south and widened to improve the drainage of the area following the increased threat of sea surges.
The footpath runs along the highest part of the rond bank which varies considerably in width.
From TG425187 going east the bank is wide enough for chalet bungalows to be built with a paved path about four feet on the north side. It continues like this although for a stretch there are no bungalows and no paving, until the boatyard at Martham Ferry is reached at TG445195. Here the footpath goes south east along Ferrygate Lane and then round the end of the dyke (known as Martham Staithe) and then turns northwest along the side of the Staithe until the riverbank is reached again. The dyke was created during the Enclosure but a mooring staithe must have existed on the riverbank before that. From the east side of the entrance to the Staithe the bank is narrower but with a level top about six feet wide along which the path runs. At TG454204 the path goes in a small loop around a small former staithe created at the Enclosure but which for lack of use over many decades has become a reed bed. From here the path continues along the rond bank and skirts round the edge of Martham Broad to the boundary with West Somerton Parish. On the edge of the Broad vegetation grows each side of the path where trees of birch, pussy willow, elder, alder and oak have sprung up and where swallow tail butterflies are sometimes seen.