Coltishall

In and around the area

The beautiful village of Coltishall is dominated by Coltishall Common at one end, which follows the banks of the River Bure. Along the river and common you will see plenty of wildlife including ducks and geese, and if you’re lucky you may spot a kingfisher.

Brewing was an important industry for the village, and from the 16th century, Coltishall was the centre of the malting trade, being a busy point for wherries sailing between Aylsham and Great Yarmouth to unload their goods. Up to 1912 it was possible to navigate the river up to Aylsham, but the lock gates at Horstead were destroyed during a flood, and it was officially abandoned in 1928. The limit of navigation is now just south of Coltishall.

Norfolk Keels, the forerunner to the wherry, were said to have been built in Anchor Street where the boat yards were established. The last of the trading wherries, Ella, was launched here in 1912. However, with the establishment of the railway in 1879, river trade was brought to an end.

The mainline railway has since been discontinued, though the Bure Valley Steam Railway still follows the former line, stopping at Coltishall. If you prefer to go at a more relaxed pace, you can also walk or cycle the 9 mile track which runs alongside the line.

Further along the river, the Rising Sun is a popular pub, set on the banks of the River Bure. The building was originally a granary, where wherries would unload and transfer grain. There is a good choice of shops and pubs in the village, as well as a butchers, fishmongers, deli, and tea rooms.

Horstead is located just over the bridge from Coltishall. Its watermill was one of the biggest and most photographed mills in the area until it was discontinued in the early 1900s following the disastrous flood of 1912, which affected the transportation of the flour. In 1963 the mill burned down, and was never restored, leaving just some remains, although a turbine was rescued and is now on display at the Rural Life Museum in Gressenhall. A footpath leads through woods and follows footbridges across the river to the mill.

Nearby RAF Coltishall was an important airbase during the Second World War, operating the Hawker Hurricane and the base was later used also used for Jaguar fighters. The base closed in 2006, and a Jaguar was formally named the Spirit of Coltishall and was moved to the grounds of Norfolk County Council, dedicated to those who served at Coltishall.

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