Could there be a better name for the dedicated walker who has taken readers on a weekly wander for almost 20 years?

Sue Walker has devised and described thousands of miles of glorious Norfolk walks beside rivers, through woodland and meadows, along the coast, between villages, and on former railway lines, pilgrimage paths and long-distance routes.

Every week, come rain or shine, summer or winter and even, more recently, pandemic or petrol shortages, Sue has worked out a walk for the EDP and Norwich Evening News – and tens of thousands of people have followed in her footsteps.

“I have enjoyed doing it. When I find a good walk I like to be able to tell people about it,” said Sue, of Hellesdon, near Norwich.

“Whatever you feel when you go out, you always feel so much better when you come home. If you have a problem or a worry, I find walking sorts it out and things seem better.”

Thetford & Brandon Times: Sue Walker who wrote and planned the walks for the EDP and Evening News for 20 years.Sue Walker who wrote and planned the walks for the EDP and Evening News for 20 years. (Image: Denise Bradley/Archant 2022)

Sue has been a member of the Ramblers for decades, joining with her husband Keith to enjoy getting out into the countryside.

Twenty years ago Sue and Keith volunteered to take on the task of coming up with a weekly walk for our newspapers, on behalf of local Ramblers groups.

She said she loved maps, her husband enjoyed writing. They had both led walks for the Ramblers and she had just completed a computer course – meaning they felt ideally placed to come up with walks to share with thousands of people.

But only a few months later Keith died. Ever since Sue, a mother of two and now grandmother of three, has been writing the walks herself – helped by other members of Ramblers, particularly Tony Smith who proof-read and edited her walks, and the many walkers who suggested routes.

However, after almost 20 years of mapping, researching, walking and writing up each route, Sue has decided to retire from her popular column. Richard Porritt, editor of the Eastern Daily Press and Norwich Evening News, said: “Our readers have loved following Sue's walks. She has done a remarkable job, researching many hundreds of walks right across the county and helping us all enjoy getting out into the countryside. I’d like to wish her a very happy retirement – filled with plenty of her favourite walks.”

Sue, now 76, has always loved walking. She grew up in Costessey, near Norwich, and spent her childhood roaming nearby lanes and paths. “We used to walk or cycle everywhere, it’s just what people did then,” she said.

She trained as a hairdresser and also helped Keith in the family rubber and plastics business. For many years she ran the Hellesdon Girl Guides group – often taking the children out for walks (cunningly disguised as quizzes, treasure trails and scavenger hunts).

She now likes getting her grandchildren, aged 12, 11 and five, out walking in the Norfolk countryside. And she still enjoys walking herself, going out several times a week – including with the Ramblers and with a small group like-minded female friends and neighbours who got together as lockdown eased.

Over the years she has taken readers all over the county and is still finding enticing footpaths she has never seen before.

“In lockdown I found some paths close to home that I didn’t know existed and wherever I am, if I see a footpath and I haven’t been on it I always want to find out where it goes,” she said.

Of course, not all of her thousand-plus Norfolk walks were completely new. “Some I did the other way round or I joined two walks together and turned a bit of one and a bit of the other into a new walk. Or a walk can be quite different at different times of the year,” she said.

She has always loved the way a walk is a chance to get close to nature and wildlife, and also enjoys researching the history of places along her routes.

“I had a child who wrote and told me how he liked doing the walks with his granddad,” said Sue.

She will continue walking with the Ramblers and said its members play an important role in keeping footpaths open. They ensure paths are known-about and enjoyed, and have groups of volunteers who go out to tackle overgrown areas.

“The more people who walk, the better the footpath will be,” said Sue. “And walking is so good for your mental health and your physical health.

“When I was young I didn’t know what the word stress meant. It didn’t seem to exist. But now a lot of youngsters are stressed.

“Since lockdown I have seen lots more young people out walking, and a lot more people have got dogs, which encourages them to go out for a walk. I have seen one or two schools out for walks too, and that’s good.”

When she heads out Sue always takes water, a snack – and folding mini secateurs. “They’ve got a little saw too and are really good for cutting brambles which have grown across a footpath!” she said.

And how about her favourite walks?

“They are all lovely but I particularly like walks with a bit of variety. I love walking beside rivers, but I don’t want to do that for the whole walk,” she said, adding that the countryside did not have a monopoly on good walks, with plenty of interesting routes taking in more urban areas.

Seven of Sue’s favourite walks

1. A circular route via lanes, tracks and footpaths from Overstrand to Northrepps and Southrepps. (Ordnance Survey Explorer map 252.)

2. A walk from Aylsham following the Weavers’ Way to Cromer, returning by bus. (Ordnance Survey Explorer maps 238 and 252.)

3. The coastal footpath out from Cley to Blakeney Eye on the coast and continuing to Blakeney and towards Morston via the coast path, then back via Kettle Hill, Wiveton Downs and Glandford, crossing at the ford and returning alongside the Glaven to Cley. (Ordnance Survey Explorer map 251.)

Thetford & Brandon Times: RamblersRamblers (Image: Archant)

Thetford & Brandon Times: A swan at Glandford fordA swan at Glandford ford (Image: Archant)

4. A circular walk from Snettisham church, taking the path to Norton Hill and walking around Lodge Hill Plantation, near Ken Hill, and back to Snettisham. Then via Station Road and a footpath past the mill to Ingoldisthorpe. Return on footpaths beside the site of a Roman villa and Snettisham Park Farm. (Ordnance Survey Explorer map 250.)

5. A circular route from Little Walsingham to Houghton St Giles and the Slipper Chapel, along the Holy Mile, then a lane to Great Snoring and back along a track and Back Lane. (Ordnance Survey Explorer map 251.)

6. A walk from Hindringham, past the hall, lanes and paths to Thursford Green and Thursford church and back along Ploughman’s Lane. (Ordnance Survey Explorer map 251.)

7. A circular walk from Worstead Church along School Road and a footpath to Bengate. Take the Weavers’ Way old railway line to Briggate, through Honing Station and then Honing Common and Dilham Road, over rail and canal bridges. Follow a footpath at Ivy Farm and lane at Dairy Farm and return to via footpaths after crossing the A149. (Ordnance Survey Explorer map OL40.)