THE RIVER WENSUM winds through West Norfolk until it meets the smaller river Yare just east of Norwich. There it changes its name to that of the lesser waterway and continues by that name to the sea at Yarmouth – Yare-mouth. Its source is rather less well-known; at West Raynham it trickles out of a pond, and upstream of that it disappears into a number of ditches at Welling Ingham to the south-west of Fakenham. Willingham also owes its name to the river, or rather to the people who lived there. The word refers to where the river “wells up” out of the ground. Nowadays it is a peaceful and largely forgotten stream, especially in its upper reaches. But when the roads of Norfolk were almost impassable muddy tracks, crossing innumerable unbridged becks and streams, the river Wensum was a major route of commerce and communication. In Anglo-Saxon times the cathedral of East Anglia stood at North Elm ham on the river. There it would only have been small boats that used the river, but when the Danes established Norwich as a major town it was as a port on a great waterway, the Wensum.
The Wensum begins near Whissonsett before being joined by the River Tat at Tatterford. Meandering through Sculthorpe Moor and Fakenham the Wensum then flows around a newly restored meander before passing Pensthorpe Nature Reserve. From Great Ryburgh to North Elmham the river underwent a number of significant restoration phases during an award winning Environment Agency project to improve river function and habitat. Below North Elmham the Wensum is joined by the Blackwater from Dereham. Between Worthing and Lenwade are many sand and gravel pits which have become popular fishing spots. The Reepham Blackwater joins just before the first Marriots way crossing at Lenwade and the river curves round Ringland entering the outskirts of Norwich. The Wensum meets the Tud at Hellesdon Mill and flows through Norwich to meet the River Yare at Whitlingham.
Today the river is still very important to the city. It no longer sees the trading traffic that once it did, and the many mills which once used water to power their machinery fell silent long ago. It is now the main source of the drinking water that passes through the pipes of Norwich and beyond. From Victorian times onwards vast quantities of water have been extracted from the reservoir at Waterworks Road on the river Wensum. These have been augmented by other reservoirs constructed from sand pits dug I the Second World War. I wonder how this has effected flows and water levels in the river? Although much of the water returns to the river at the sewage outflow at Willingham, a certain amount must also disappear through evaporation. Most for these images were taken with my Fuji GW690III in 1992. I had a weekend off, a lay-over of two-days with my co- pilot and a cabin crew member we went on an water ways cruise all arranged by the Hotel Manager. It was great fun!! The only problem it was more than two days.
Pull’s Ferry is another well-known attraction in Norwich and just a stones throw from the yacht Station. It was named after the ferryman John Pull who operated the ferry here for over 45 years. The flint building was once a water gate, a canal built by monks ran under the arch to the cathedral during its construction. Caen limestone was bought from France up the Yare and Wensum to be unloaded at the foot of the new cathedral. An information point near the river depicts the history of the building and it’s associations with the cathedral.
A cruising guide to the waterways of the Norfolk Broads with navigation notes, maps and photographs covering the rivers, towns and villages that make up the Norfolk Broads. Each of the Broads rivers is divided up into sections. The guide includes the rivers Bure, Yare, Ant, Thurne, Waveney, Chet and Wensum from the head of navigation downstream to the limit of navigation or it’s confluence with another river.