A very large carved grasshopper sits atop Gresham’s village sign and commemorates a local legend of which there are several versions. At some unspecified time in the 13th century a farmer’s wife heard what sounded like the noise of a giant grasshopper from a nearby field. Curiosity overcame her and to her astonishment she found a very large grasshopper sitting on the chest of an abandoned baby boy, apparently guarding it. She and her husband adopted the baby, naming him Roger de Gresham because he was found in the village. The family prospered and eventually a Tudor descendent, Sir Thomas, founded the Royal Exchange and endowed Gresham College in London.
Park by Gresham church in East Beckham Road, noting the village sign with its grasshopper at the crossroads. The lime and beech tree-girt churchyard is delightful, while inside the church the 15th-century font is the highlight.
Walk north away from the village along an oak-shaded lane. At the crest turn right at a footpath sign onto a shady track flanked by oaks andalive with butterflies.
At a T-junction turn right onto a track and go left at a lane. Just before a road fork, go right and alongside a hedge.
Through a hedge gap bear right alongside a hedge. Ahead, beyond the lane, a copse of trees conceals the remains of Sir Edmund Bacon’s Gresham Castle, licensed in 1319.
Just before reaching the lane turn sharp left along a footpath alongside a brambly hedge. Through a hedge gap bear left across a potato field to a lane. Bear right here, the roadside hedges rich with honeysuckle, campion, vetch, dog roses and meadowsweet.
At the T-junction continue ahead across cornfields, now on the Weavers Way path.
Bear right alongside the flint churchyard wall to Sustead church. From the church continue west along the lane until it bears right, then walk ahead on a stony track, signed Woodbine Cottage. The track continues past Thurgarton Old Hall, built in 1733.
Shortly, where the stony track bears right, continue ahead on a grassy track, and after it bends left go right onto a path through barley to a tree belt. Through this, bear left through another barley field, aiming to the left of a farmhouse. Bear right onto a lane past this farmhouse and head for Bessingham Church.
Visit the church with its round tower, this time Anglo-Saxon, rather than 13th-century, leaving the churchyard near the tower to cross fields to reach a lane. Bear right and descend a shady lane to turn right into Gresham village, winding between its delightful flint or cobble-walled cottages, all beneath pantiled roofs.
At Maria Cottage bear right into Chequers Road. At the junction turn left past the former Chequers pub, now closed but with its sign bracket remaining: no refreshment on this walk route now. The lane ascends gently to the crossroads with the grasshopper sign and the end of the walk.
Gentle, rolling terrain, mostly hedged arable fields. Relatively few pastures so few horses and cows.
How to get there
By car: Gresham is off the A148, Cromer to Holt road and
can be reached by lanes through Aylmerton, East Beckham or Bodham.
By public transport: There are no buses to Gresham, the nearest bus route is X6, Fakenham to Cromer which comes within 3 miles or so at Sheringham where there is also a railway station.
The Roman Camp Inn,
Holt Road, Aylmerton
West Beckham, Holt
Ordnance Survey Explorer Map 252. Grid ref: TG 167 385
Felbrigg Hall, 2 miles east of Gresham. A National Trust house with its own ghost: William Windham, an 18th-century owner who is said to haunt the library. Open Apr-Nov, Mon-Wed, Sat-Sun, 11am-5pm. Adults £7.50, children £3.90. Gardens open most of year on the same days.