I was living in Chelmsford at the time when I decided to revisit the Norfolk Broads, this time heading for a remote area filled with windmills. I took the train to Norwich, and then the onward Great Yarmouth train - the only one of the day to stop at Berney Arms - and no I hadn't thought how I would get back. The train missed the tiny platform, so I jumped down, and watched as my connection with civilisation trundled off to the seaside. A short walk away I found the imposing bulk of the restored Berney Arms windmill, and nearby one of the remotest pubs in Britain. The windmill looks disproportionately large here as it is a lot closer than the pub buildings (it is pretty tall too) - the flat landscape has this weird effect on perceived distances.
There are no roads around Berney Arms, just a path leading to the majestic restored windmill and the water's edge. Following the tidal water towards the sea I quickly passed the pub that serves the hire boats that summer brings, and then turned inland across a barren landscape of squelchy grass. I came across many of the windmills - most are phallic stumps, but some have parts of their mechanisms still intact.
Eventually I come back to the station to discover there is no train back, and so began an extra four miles following the river inland to the village of Reedham, and my return to civilisation.
The pictures above actually come from two journeys. "The walk in" is from a first trip to Reedham, and the other two from the journey described above. Originally painted in 1995, all three have been repainted in 2015/6. I revisited the area in 2016, and found many more windmills along other waterways (below). Though essentially a timeless landscape, there has been some change as many of the windmills are now restored.
My trip in March 2016 saw brighter conditions, although still pretty squelchy. My first day I went up river from Acle to St Benet's Level and just beyond (to another windmill I've yet to paint). The second day I walked from Great Yarmouth to Acle, passing several more old mills, but nothing to compare to my earlier trips.
To finish, let me show you where all these pictures were painted from. Look closely and you may spot there are over 50 disused drainage mills in the area - so plenty of scope for another trip and more pictures...