The future of Wherryman’s Way at Hardley Flood – update

The message that appears to have come out from the meeting, held at the Lecture Hall, George Lane yesterday (17 March 2016) is that the public footpath running along the River Chet past Hardley Flood, arguably, the most beautiful and tranquil stretch of the Wherryman’s Way is to be abandoned.

Lack of maintenance of both the path, and more importantly, the river bank has left at least one of the bridges impassable and hazardous to walkers.

chetbridge1  chetbridge2

Norfolk Trails, the Norfolk County Council department responsible for maintaining the County’s long distance paths only has responsibility for maintaining the path itself, not the land over which the path runs.

Only one scheme to resolve the problem seems to have been investigated and costed – to pile the full length of the river bank past Hardley Flood. This was described as “prohibitively expensive”.

Other public bodies with interests or responsibilities for Hardley Flood and the River Chet appear to be disinterested in joining together to seek a collective resolution to the problem.

The Broads Authority representative suggested the erosion of the river bank was a naturally occurring process and there was nothing that could, (or should?) be done about it. Their website suggests otherwise? – “We are responsible for the integrated care of water and land, including conserving and enhancing Broads wildlife and our award-winning work in managing navigation channels”.

All of the boatyard owners were at the meeting and they expressed their real concern that any further degredation of the river bank will have serious implications to water flow around the boatyards and the Staithe, potentially making the operation of the boatyards unviable and with a possibly catastrophic impact on Loddon and Chedgrave’s tourism industry.  (Loddon and Chedgrave are the only Norfolk communities south of Norwich with a direct connection to the Norfolk Broads).

The abandoning of this footpath could have very far reaching consequences.

The Norfolk Trails representative pledged to post information about developments on their website although to date nothing has been posted regarding Hardley Flood.
In fact Wherrymans Way appears to have disappeared all together on their new web site!

No mention was made at the meeting of any further public consultation so, if you feel strongly about this issue, you may wish to lobby your Parish, District and County Councillors and, of course, your MP.

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