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Down the Yare from Norwich to Reedham and Yarmouth page 2

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I can well remember what a hard business it was to crouch behind the reed screens and gaze into the decoy through small holes made by turning slips of wood sideways between the reeds. Then, too, there was the discomfort of having to carry in one's hand a little lump of smouldering peat, with the object of preventing the keen- scented fowl becoming aware of human beings near them. Still, the novel sight was worth the aches and chills.

The " piper " had little to do with the capture of the fowl taken that day; but I had other opportunities for observing how this clever dog lured the mallard, widgeon, and teal into the pipe. Between the screens, which are arranged obliquely along the sides of the decoy, are a number of low boards known as "leaps" or "dog-jumps." At a signal from its master, the dog jumps over one of these boards and reveals itself to the fowl. Instead of being alarmed, as they are when the dog suddenly splashes into the water behind them, the fowl at once show signs of the greatest curiosity and commence swimming towards the decoy. The dog continues its jumping tricks, but slowly mates its way towards the narrow end of the pipe, and the fowl are frightened into the hoop net by the decoyman. Decoying seldom begins before November - though the fowl sometimes seek the seclusion oil7 the lake a month or two earlier - and it is all over before the end of March.

An account of decoying, however, may strike you as being somewhat out of place here, especially if you read it while lounging on a yacht's deck in the full blaze of a summer sun. So I hasten on to Rockland, where there is a much larger broad than Surlingham, connected with the river by Rockland Fleet, a dyke three-quarters of a mile long, and seven smaller dykes. The main dyke is said to be navigable to craft not drawing more than three feet of water; but even if your boat answers to this description, you will be wise to leave it moored by the riverside and explore the broad in your dingy. You will then have no difficulty in getting alongside the quaint little house-boat in which Fuller, the broadsman mentioned in my opening remarks on the Broadland, spends so much of his time. Extensive reed beds surround and form swampy islets about the broad, making it hard to estimate its full size. These reed beds are usually full of birds, and in winter are the haunts of great numbers of wild-fowl. The village of Rockland, where ruins of an older church are to be seen beside the existing church of St Mary, is not far from the broad.

About three miles below Buckenham Ferry, another of the numerous angling resorts of this district, is Langley Dyke, by rowing up which it is possible to get within a few minutes walk of the ruins of Langley Abbey, founded in 1198. Though not extensive, these ruins are not without interest. Five-and-a-half miles from Buckenham, and about sixteen from Norwich, at the mouth of a small stream called the Chet, stands Hardley Cross, an obelisk which marks the extent of Norwich jurisdiction over the Yare. Here, representatives of the Norwich Corporation yearly make a proclamation to the following effect: -

" Oyez! Oyez! Oyez! If there be any manner of person that will absume, purfy, implead, or present action, plaint, or plea for any offence, trespass, or misdemeanour done or committed upon the Queen's Majesty's River of Wenson, let him repair unto the Right Worshipful Mr Mayor and the Worshipful the Sheriff of the City of Norwich, for the redress thereof, and he shall be heard. God save the Queen."

The name of Wenson, or Wensum, it must be understood, was formerly applied to this part of the Yare, as well as to the river at and above Norwich.

The little river Chet, which flows into the Yare at Hardley Cross, is navigable to wherries as far as Loddon, a small town about five miles from its mouth. Loddon, although possessing no railway station, has over a thousand inhabitants and an interesting church built by Sir James Hobart in the reign of Henry VIII. There are other much older churches in the neighbourhood, notably those of Chedgrave and Heckingham, which exhibit many traces of Norman workmanship. Few people trouble to explore the Chet, or have any idea that there is much in the out- of-the-way district through which it flows to reward them for lingering a while on its waters.

From Hardley Cross to Reedham there is little calling for description; but Reedham, where commences the three-mile canal known as the New Cut, which connects the Yare with the Waveney, is a picturesque village on rising ground by the riverside. Here, you have the choice of sailing to Oulton and Lowestoft by way of the New Cut and the Waveney, or of continuing your voyage down the Yare and across Breydon Water to Yarmouth. The latter route I now propose to follow, but the former will be dealt with later on. Reedham is a favourite mooring-place with yachtsmen and wherrymen, and the former often visit the church, which contains some interesting memorials of the Berney family, and the hall, built on the site of an ancient castle. Reedham was once a seat of the East Anglian kings, and tradition says it was the scene of the murder of Lothbrock, a Danish chief, who, after being caught by a storm while hawking off the Danish coast, was driven across the North Sea and into the estuary of the Yare. He landed at Reedham, and was entertained by King Edmund; but was afterwards murdered by Bern, the king's chief huntsman, whose jealousy he excited by excelling him in the chase. Bern subsequently accused King Edmund of the murder, and his story being believed by the Danes, a large force invaded East Anglia and overthrew the Saxon dynasty.

From Reedham to Breydon the Yare winds through wide level marshlands, extending in some directions to an horizon unbroken except by the outlines of the gaunt black windmills. Windmills are the chief features of these far- spreading marshes - windmills and the countless cattle which in summer feed on the lush marsh grass. In the opinion of many people the four miles of river between Reedham and Berney Arms, an inn at the head of Breydon, are the dreariest in the Broadland. Still, it is as well you should see what the real marshlands of Norfolk are like; and if you cannot grow as enthusiastic over them as a native of the district, who knows them at all seasons of the year, fishes their streams, shoots the wild-fowl which flock to them, and sees the flaming glory of their winter sunsets, you may yet feel impressed when you remember that where these wide level pastures now extend for miles and miles the sea-birds once wheeled and screamed, and Roman galleys and viking ships of Norway sailed to ravage the homes of the early dwellers in East Anglia. While you ponder over the great change' since those long-gone days, the white wings of your yacht carry you out of the Yare on to the wider waters of Breydon, where, beyond the ooze-flats on which the gulls and curlews feed, you see the roofs and spires of Yarmouth standing out clear against the sky.

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