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North Walsham and Dilham Canal



Forty years ago it would have been very difficult to imagine that a canal really existed here in North Norfolk. It is the only canal in Norfolk but it had not been attended to in decades and nature had taken over…as is its wont! The trouble is that nature will continue to grow without hindrance until it becomes the survival of the fitness, i.e. back to basics! I had spent a lot of years flying low over this area in the 70’s and I do not recall ever seeing anything that could remotely be classed as a canal!

Several attempts had been made by various groups to restore the canal but in each case the schemes became too difficult, either because the owner of the canal or the adjacent landowners objected – or of course the dreaded official-dome and quangos.

The EAWA took up the cudgels in the 90’s and had two surveys carried out of the entire length of the canal looking at a) the ecological status and b) the physical composition of the structures. Work parties started in 2000 and progress has been made steadily since then with one or two hick-ups along the way of course.

The first work parties were in fact dedicated to clearing the destructive growth of trees and other vegetation from along the structures in order to prevent any further damage being caused. 

There are now several places along the canal where a boat can be launched – that is a canoe, punt, rowing, sailing dinghy type vessel – not yet a largish boat! Our petition to continue to restore the canal has now attracted well over 2,200 people – and work is set to continue.

We have also been granted the Environment Award through the North Norfolk District Council, which also backs the restoration because of its’ educational and therapeutically advantageous reasons. This canal, which received its Enabling Act of Parliament in 1812, is beginning to shake its bed a little with the prospect that in time it will look as good as new once more – well nearly. It took only 18 months for the 9 ¼ mile length complete with six (6) locks to be built, the workers ably assisted by large quantities of local real ale in 1825! It is well worth a visit.  

Go to for more information on how you can help restore this wonderful piece of Norfolk history.

Article kindly supplied by David E Revill from the EAWA and NW&DCT