Norfolk Heritage Open Days

Water, Mills and Marshes has taken part in the Norfolk Heritage Open Days (HODs) festival for four years running!


Our first year taking part in the heritage festival we hosted a fascinating talk and guided walk by Suzie Hanna around Wheatfen Nature Reserve, providing a unique insight into Ted Ellis and the Ted Ellis Trust. Suzie Hanna shared the life and work of her father Ted Ellis, the renowned naturalist, writer and broadcaster – and his love of the Norfolk countryside including the Broads. The talk was followed by a guided walk around Wheatfen Broad and Nature Reserve, highlighting the committed preservation and conservation work of the Ted Ellis Trust.

Our next event was a guided walk to St Benet’s Abbey from Ludham along the River Bure, towards St Benet’s Abbey, learning about the history of the landscape and the influence of the Monks that lived and worked in the area.


Our second year taking part in the heritage festival saw us approach the festival in a less than usual way due to the hit of the Covid-19 pandemic. Limited to only online or digital events, we decided to collaborate with Liam Smith creator of  A Shot of Wildlife and local wildlife filmmaker to create a virtual walking video tour exploring the hidden nature and heritage of the Halvergate Marshes. Watch ‘The Hidden Life of Marsh and Mill’ on YouTube below.

More details of the tour can be found here.

Following the success of the Halvergate video tour, with record views on the A Shot of Wildlife YouTube channel, we once again teamed up with Liam in 2021 to make a similar video tour of the marshes around Beccles and Geldeston. Read more about this video tour here or watch the video on YouTube below

In addition to the virtual tour, we also created a series of podcasts ‘A Walk in the (National) Park’ with poet Dean Parkin for HODs 2020. In each of the ten podcasts dean visits a different favourite place along the 93 mile Angles Way, exploring the history and heritage in the southern reaches of the Broads National Park. Take a listen below.

Read more about the podcast journey here.


Norfolk HODs came around once more and as Covid-19 restrictions began to relax, we saw the return of in person events. So in contrast to our 2020 events, we went back to the more traditional in person guided ‘walk and talk’ with local historian and author Matthew Williams on an exploration of the history and future of the River Wensum through Norwich city centre. The ‘Astride a Lowland River’ walk started at New Mills Yard and followed the winding Wensum discussing the history of the river, the complex issues of flooding, the ongoing battle with climate change and what this means for the city of Norwich.


Along came our fourth and final year of taking part in Norfolk HODs and following the popularity of the previous year’s event ‘Astride a Lowland River’, we again hosted a guided ‘walk and talk’ with the historian and author Matthew Williams, however this time on an exploration of the history of flooding in Norwich and changes to the River Wensum over time through Norwich city centre.

On the ‘The River is Wide?’ guided walk Matthew Williams discussed the concept of how most rivers tend to widen as they go downstream, and the Wensum is no exception as it runs through the Broads area. But what about the bit passing through the city of Norwich? The walk focused on a civic masterplan, adopted following the Great Flood of 1912, which led to massive changes being made to river banks and bridges – but was enough done to avoid a repeat? We received remarkable feedback and both walks were full booked!

Although our participation in the festival has come to an end, Norfolk HODs continues to host a county wide heritage festival every September with many organisations hosting events around the Broads National Park. For more information about the next festival and what events on are on visit their website Norfolk Heritage Open Days.