Wensum, by Jim Harding, Tuesday, May 16

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One of the two bridges on the old railway line running from Fayre Green.

The future of this space has been in doubt for some time and when the district council placed height barriers over the entrance last year, the doubts increased.

By prohibiting coaches and lorries from using their customary parking territory it was presumed that the long-term life of the car park was probably limited.

That belief was confirmed in recent months when district, without much consultation in our direction, announced its intention of putting the land on the market for housing development.

The decision upset many councillors and many residents, particularly those who regularly use this free facility.

When the objections were heard, one of the suggestions made by district was for the town council to conduct an ‘impact assessment’.

From what I can gather, the questionnaire will attempt to be part of this. I’ve seen a copy and it’s very straightforward.

At the heart of it the answers people give will indicate the extent to which the car park is used and valued, the numbers from out of town who use it and the alternatives they would seek if it was sold off.

If you are a resident it’s likely that you will bump into one of the councillors, particularly on market days. They will be in and around the market and also on the car park itself.

Recently I mentioned the work being carried out on the two bridges on the old railway line running from Fayre Green down to the river.

I’ve followed the progress of this exercise into its fourth week and have been somewhat amazed by what I’m seeing. Everything is now finished and all the machinery and scaffolding removed.

To us regulars patrolling this way it’s been some spectacle. The first bridge now has new railings along each of its sides, a coat of paint everywhere including the undercarriage and a stretch of tar down the middle.

A number of neighbouring trees have been lopped. The three brick arches bridge across the Wensum has been cleared of all its ivy with its brick work now scrubbed clean.

The top surface has been levelled, a mini-fence put in place by the descent to the river and some trees have also been cut down.

I spoke with some of the workmen tackling this task and asked who were the paymasters.

According to them it was a lottery funded scheme and further investigation pointed to the Melton Constable Trust which owns this section of line and support from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

The investment is certainly looking to the future and the group’s orbital railway revival plans.

It amused me to hear one of the men say that he never knew of this network of paths by the river and its neighbouring fields ‘and I’ve lived in Fakenham for thirty years’.

I wonder just how many other residents might admit the same. On some of my walks the wildlife barely makes much of an appearance.

But on one day during the second week of May when the cold east wind had relented, everything just seemed to come together.

It began with a heron taking off from beside the river and a pair of little egrets doing likewise further along.

Next up was a posse of swifts heading towards town and a pair of muntjacks staring at me from amongst the long grass before bounding away.

A kestrel perched on a wire allowed me a close-up sighting prior to taking flight and as if all this was not enough I then heard the unmistakable call of a cuckoo back from the way I’d come.

The first for me this spring and a very welcome sound of approaching summer.