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It’s early days but river footpath work in Fakenham seems to have paid off

In his weekly Wensum column, Fakenham correspondent Jim Harding discusses a popular route into town and a pub quiz...

It’s not been a great year for those of us who enjoy walking into town via the river footpath down from the three brick arches bridge. Workmen have been busy upgrading and improving the whole area, forcing the closure of the path to the public.

Much to my delight and, I’m sure, many others, work was finally completed in September and what I might call ‘normal service’ was resumed. When I got back into my routine recently, the river level was fairly low following a dry summer. The water of this lovely chalk stream was clear and fish readily visible.

A very full river after two days of rain flowing through the town bridge.
A very full river after two days of rain flowing through the town bridge.

What a change occurred when we suffered the tail-end of Storm Babet with a couple of days’ heavy rain. Not only did we lose the first race meeting of Fakenham’s jump racing season – a rarity in itself – but the river levels rose rapidly with the water turning a deep colour as it rushed downstream.

Happily, I was able to get by with a minimum of fuss thanks to the strengthening and widening of the footpath. Some trees which might have keeled over across the path into the river had also been removed. It’s early days yet so we may have to see how things pan out if winter rains develop over the coming months. But for now, the upgrade has been a positive and even the dog walkers are back on their regular rounds.

As you may well know there have been quite a few times in recent years when the unprepared have had to turn back due to deep water spilling over the banks of the river. I often took to wellies in order to get through. Perhaps they can be ignored from now on.

Our parish church is a very welcoming place, its doors open to the public every day. On the Thursday market day it really comes alive with a variety of stalls selling plenty and the kitchen on duty to supply drinks and snacks. Socially it fills an important role.

On a recent evening a quiz took place with the money raised from this going towards church funds. The turn-out was good and the whole event a great success. The fact that the team I was part of managed to win by a single point when all the scores were added up is neither here nor there. But it was nice to receive individual bars of chocolate as prizes.

For some strange reason this took me back to my childhood when my Dad handed each of us five children a small bar of chocolate every week in lieu of pocket money. These were guarded carefully so that they managed to last some of us for most of the week if we were very patient. Treats were exceptional and not to be treated lightly. I can’t recall a previous quiz in church and do hope that another one might crop up in the future. They also seem to be quite popular at various venues around town.

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