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… A River Runs Through It …

We drove down the narrow lane with trepidation … what would we find when we reached our destination.  The sign, half hidden by roadside grass and nettles, pointed us in the direction of Sculthorpe Mill … we were hungry … looking for somewhere to eat … what harm would it do to go and have a look … I felt sure we would be disappointed and the only lunch would be a stale sandwich in a rundown pub that no one ever visited because they didn’t even know it was there.

How wrong could I be.  At the end of the lane … there it was … in all its glory … an old water mill.  A beautiful 18th century napped flint building …

Sculthorpe Mill

We smiled at one another  knowing that our original thoughts had been a little misguided.  Most of the pub-turned-‘eatery’  places  that we had visited had been   modernised to within an inch of their lives – all very pleasant with scrubbed pine tables and floors, lots of artwork on the walls etc. but not a lot left of the original building.  But the mill was like stepping back into another century … heavy oak beams, soft leather sofas, thick carpets and a congenial host. 

The old fashioned dining area was a series of small intimate rooms, two or three tables in each with just the gentle background noise of  diners chatting whilst enjoying their food.  After a delicious lunch of sea food we left to go and explore the surroundings.

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There were only one or two buildings in this little hamlet, both of which had once belonged to the mill, but were now private residences … there was nothing else but water, the mill race going under the mill building and the beautiful River Wensum, clear, shallow and fast flowing.

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“A river seems a magic thing. A magic, moving, living part of the very earth itself.”
Laura Gilpin

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watercress

Seeing all this lovely clear water really made me want to go wild swimming – see this quote I posted on one of my now defunct blogs

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At the time of  Domesday, three watermills were listed in Sculthorpe. By 1225 the mills belonged to Richard Botte and the de Hasseneye or de Hasseneia family with the latterday Sculthorpe watermill, along with ten acres of land becoming known as Hasseneia Mill.
The final structure of Hasseneia mill was built on a large strip of gravel and silt above an ancient ford that was once the river crossing point for the Romans. The building was made up of flint rubble with brick dressings that probably came from an earlier mill with a new Norfolk pantiled roof. According to a plaque on its rear wall, this new mill was built in 1757, possibly just after alterations of the river course.

Having ground corn for many years, the mill probably ceased working c.1947 and was becoming derelict by the 1950s.

labrador dog enjoying a swim

“The Carmel is a lovely little river. It isn't very long but in its course it has everything a river should have. It ... tumbles down a while, runs through shallows, ... crackles among round boulders, wanders lazily under sycamores, spills into pools where trout live ... In the winter, it becomes a torrent, ... and in the summer it is a place for children to wade in and for fishermen to wander in.”
John Steinbeck

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It certainly has had a chequered history according to the website see here – but to me it was just an idyllic setting, a lovely old building and with a surprisingly beautiful garden.

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sculthorpe

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“The river itself portrays humanity precisely, with its tortuous windings, its accumulation of driftwood, its unsuspected depths, and its crystalline shallows, singing in the Summer sun.” Myrtle Reed

I have to say that writing this post has brought back happy childhood memories of Dad taking us to the mill in the village where we used to live, on Sunday mornings, jam jar and fishing net in hand, to catch sticklebacks and minnows, whilst poor old Mum was left behind to cook the Sunday lunch – aah happy memories indeed.

So, if ever you are travelling on the Fakenham Road near Sculthorpe – look out for the sign, keep your eyes peeled, you might miss it – then see for yourself this delightful place.

“ Never in his life had he seen a river before – this sleek, sinuous, full-bodied animal, chasing and chuckling, gripping things with a gurgle and leaving them with a laugh, to fling itself on fresh playmates that shook themselves free, and were caught and held again.  All was a-shake and a-shiver – glints and gleams and sparkles, rustle and swirl, chatter and bubble.  The Mole was bewitched, entranced, fascinated.” – The Wind in the Willows.

‘Til next time – take off your shoes, sit on the bank and dangle your feet in the water – I can’t think of anything better on a hot summers’ day. p.s. this is not a sponsored post.

Comments

  1. What an amazing find. Isn't it wonderful when you stumble across a place, you could not have planned it, could you??
    I love the gardens but especially the river. I love to be beside water, it must be the Pisces in me :)
    The lupins are amazing....I lost mine to the rabbits this year. I love that wonderful peppery scent that comes with the bloom.

    Lovely post.....took me away for a brief moment from the pile of mushroom compost, that needs to be distributed around the garden today.

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    1. Hi Cheryl
      I loved the place, like you especially the water - I too am a Pisces and am always drawn to it - whenever I see a river I think of wild swimming and how peaceful it would be to just to slip in and slowly swim upstream.

      I can't grow lupins either, our garden is just too sluggy - they just make a bee-line for them and decimate them overnight.

      It is raining cats and dogs here at the moment so I have been tidying the greenhouse. Good luck with the compost spreading - don't overdo it.

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    2. Elaine, so strange, I thought you would be a Pisces.
      Wild swimming would be amazing. Have you seen the natural swimming ponds that put in gardens now??
      We stayed in a hotel last year (in Cornwall) they had a natural pool, it was absolutely beautiful.....secluded and mystical.

      I have worked my socks off :) Still lots to do but five hours is enough for today. .......it is Sunday after all .........

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    3. The only natural swimming pond I have seen is on Gardeners World when Alys Fowler went swimming - oh how delightful - if I had a pond the size of that I wouldn't have any garden left. https://www.youtube.com/watch?
      v=3vSdy9XOg-gners

      Well done - I admire your staying power - I think I would have conked out after a couple of hours. Take a well deserved rest.

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  2. what a lovely hidden treasure x

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    1. And so unexpected - a real find.

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  3. That looks like a lovely place. I'd be worried about the 'torrent' in winter, but that's what comes with living beside a river I suppose. I never used to think about such things!

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    1. I would to live near water but after last winters storms and floods maybe I'll stick to the high ground.

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  4. I thought that this was the beginning of another novel. How come everywhere as pristine hostas and when asked how they manage it profess to do nothing special£

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    1. There wasn't a single hole in sight on those hostas - even Prince Charles had slug damage on his.

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  5. The perfect village. Did you notice any 'For Sale' notices about; I'm tempted.

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  6. Beautiful place. It reminds me of our Gorski Kotar. It's also filled with rivers and old mills. Oh and Lupins are breathtaking.

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    1. I looked up your Gorski Kotar - what a beautiful area - but the river is huge compared to this one.

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  7. What a lovely post about what is obviously an idyllic place as your pictures show. Both the pub and village are definitely my kind of place for somewhere to eat and then stroll round on a sunny afternoon.

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    1. I think I'll join you Flighty - it was delightful.

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  8. As everyone else mentioned that looks idyllic.

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    1. It certainly was Susan - a perfect day.

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  9. Oh, how wonderful! What a find. You were well rewarded for your perseverance in seeking out somewhere for lunch. No wonder it brought back happy childhood memories and made you think of Wind in the Willows. I love all those wonderful lupins in the garden:)

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    1. I love being by the water especially streams just the sort of place Ratty would have loved to be on in his rowing boat.

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  10. Such an enjoyable reading. When I started to read it reminded me to the novels of Alan Titchmarsh, which I have read all now, on my holidays.
    It is such fun to find unexpected nice places to eat and enjoy the surroundings, especially the lupins look gorgeous. No lupins in my garden this year due to rabbits and slugs. The running water of the narrow clear rivers in your country are lovely to stare at and dream and of course to swim.

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    1. I have never read any Alan Titchmarsh novels - maybe I should after your. Moment. I can't grow lupins either my garden is just too full of snails - a shame as they look splendid en masse.

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  11. What a heavenly find! And, now discovered, you can look forward to revisiting it on future trips to Norfolk. So many lovely views to photograph; I love historic villages that have tried to retain some of the original character, it makes a visit so much more interesting.

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    1. It certainly was Caro - and yes, it is definitely on the list to visit again.

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  12. Not only are your photos wonderful, the narrative perfect, I love the connection you make to literature with your use of quotations to describe the countryside.

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    1. What a lovely thing to say Ann - you are most kind.

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  13. Such a lovely mellow post to read on an early Sunday evening. I love stumbling on a little treasure like that. We're just popping into the garden to try my home made Elderflower fizz and the mister has just lightly fried some courgettes from the garden,dunked in seasoned flour . We've had a busy day so nice to relax.

    Jean x

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    1. Sounds pretty good to me Jean.

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  14. What a wonderful find - and those lupins too, amazing!

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    1. I do so wish I could grow lupins like that a) swe don't have enough garden for a big mass of flowers and b) the slugs just love them and decimate them before they have had a chance to establish :(

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  15. Y'know I have always wanted to live in a water mill and am forever scouring the internet for a reasonably priced one, they cost a fortune! This post has set me off again.....it must be lovely to live by the river like that and I would be skinny dipping in a flash on a warm day. Glad you had fun, I love the place and the garden, and is that a dog I see swimming???xxx

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    1. Not sure about the skinny dipping - but it was very inviting. And yes it was a Labrador having a lovely time in the water.

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  16. Oh my! That lupin bed is amazing...oh to have a bed just for lupins....sigh.

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  17. This is my kind of place! Thank you for taking us along for the ride friend! You really captured some amazing shots! And yes you are so right....the garden was stunning!!! But I was really taken with that crisp clear water! And I love the story of your youth going fishing with your dad! This post just reminds me of the goodness of life and the beauty that we are surrounded by! Wishing you a wonderful week ahead! Nicole xoxo

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    1. Just my kind of place too Nicole - we were so fortunate to have found it - we will be going back definitely.

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  18. Glorious images, Elaine. Such a serene locale with so much interest for all your senses.

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    1. I just love watery places and could sit and watch it till the cows come home.

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  19. What a gorgeous place, so peaceful and idyllic. Beautiful lupins, and that tin bath looks just perfect in these surroundings. What a wonderful find :-) .

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    1. Peaceful and idyllic it was Paula - just perfect.

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  20. Hello Elaine, I have just discovered your blog and I'm glad I did. I had a lovely time visiting and will be back for more!

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    1. Thanks for visiting Isabelle - glad you enjoyed the post.

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  21. Beautiful photos of this charming place, Elaine. I enjoyed the tour very much.

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  22. What a great hamlet and so glad you found a lovely surprise in the visit to the mill. Your river looks beautiful and so tranquil. Just gorgeous photos. I also took time to visit your post on Highgrove. The gardens looks gorgeous. So kind of you to gather postcards and share. This may be the only way I will visit this English garden. Hope you have fun dangling your feet in the water - I just may join you. I don't fish but I could sit quietly and sketch - do suppose we could have a spot of tea too?? Have a wonderful week.

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    1. Oh yes Debbie, definitely tea and scones with jam and cream I think.

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  23. The next best thing to dangling my feet in a cool river is reading this post.
    Do children catch sticklebacks any more? We used to do that in a little stream near our home. I'd forgotten that.

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    1. Thanks Lucille - I don't know whether children still do it - they probably do virtual fishing on their computers instead. They don't know what they are missing.

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  24. What a find, and isn't it wonderful to know that it's there, a true hidden gem. I can't get over how green and lush it is there. Very much like Coastal BC, where I used to live.

    Jen

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  25. To come across it accidentally made it even better Jen - as you can tell, I loved it.

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  26. Wow, this looks like a secret garden--reminds me of some book I read when I was a little girl;. 2 kids discovered a secret garden and they would escape to it whenever they could!

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    1. Thanks for dropping by and leaving a comment.

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  27. What a wonderful stroke of luck to happen on this old mill. Your lunch and walk afterward sounds idyllic. The lupins caught my eye perhaps because I grew some from seed this spring. Oh that mine should one day look half so pretty.

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    1. I am hopeless with lupins the snails devour them before they have a chance to get going - oh well, you win some you lose some.

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  28. Beautiful spot and sounds like an enchanting summer afternoon. Love the sound of small rooms for only a few diners. Very intimate and peaceful.

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    1. The whole experience was rather lovely - we shall be returning without a doubt.

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  29. Beautiful post! What a lovely place to visit. The flowers are so pretty. I especially enjoyed seeing the photos of that wonderfully clear little river. I could almost feel myself wading in its cold clear water with the slippery stones underfoot.

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    1. Thank you Susie - nice of you to drop by.

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  30. Wow that looks an amazing place too and I love those lupins. Sarah x

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    1. The mill garden was a surprising and unexpected bonus - I just wish I could grow lupins in my own garden.

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  31. supercalafragalisticexpealidocious Elaine

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