Slow Travel Norfolk


Well, it is finally out – my new book Slow Travel Norfolk.

Here is a brief extract from the book about an extraordinary rook roost that takes place at Buckenham Carrs each winter:

A  large  wooded  area  just  east  of   Buckenham  station, Buckenham Carrs is in winter home to an enormous rook and jackdaw roost mentioned in the Domesday Book. It’s thought there may be as many as 80,000 birds. The roost is the central motif of Mark Cocker’s Crow Country, which celebrates both crows and the Yare Valley where he lives. The Buckenham roost, which takes place in the winter months, roughly between late October and March, is quite a spectacle to behold, a natural phenomenon that has been taking place long before the fields were ploughed here and the church at Buckenham constructed. Ideally, you’ll want a crisp winter’s evening with a clear sky and a full moon.                                                                                                                                                    The best vantage point is to walk up the narrow road from Buckenham station until you reach a copse on the left with a small ruined brick shelter. You’ll see it all from here. The performance – if you can call it that – is a slow burn. Just after sunset, groups of rooks, and some jackdaws, fly in to gather on the large ploughed area immediately to the west; others land in the trees that surround it. Some have come quite a long way to be sociable but the crow conversation taking place sounds rather tetchy, all guttural complaining caws.                                                                                                                                       Momentum slowly builds as more and more groups of birds fly in to land in the field. As the light fades, the noise from the congregation builds louder and eerily expectant: something is clearly about to happen. Eventually, when the darkness is almost complete some sort of signal spurs the birds airborne and the sky blackens with rooks that swirl noisily east to settle in the woods of Buckenham Carrs where they will spend the night together.                                                                                                                                                It’s an astonishing, almost primal, event. One that almost laughs in the face of man’s perceived dominion over nature. No collective noun can adequately describe it: a building of rooks, a train of jackdaws. It’s less a murder of crows, more a mass execution.


For an another take on Slow Norfolk, here is a lovely post about Going Slow on the north Norfolk coast on The World According to Dina, which generously mentions my book too.


22 Replies to “Slow Travel Norfolk”

  1. I look forward to reading ‘Slow Norfolk’. My great-uncle Tony used to live there (Broad Cottage, Buckenham), and I have lovely boyhood memories of the place and some old photos too.

  2. Sounds wonderful! I went to see the roost on my last visit to Norfolk a few months ago. I look forward to reading the rest of the book and I’m sure discovering things I don’t know about – well done Laurence.

    1. Many thanks, Diana. The rook roost is a wonderful phenomenon, although I haven’t been for a couple of years now. Some times are definitely better than others – cold, clear weather and a moon certainly help.

  3. Thanks Martin. You should definitely do the rook roost sometime – quite primal. Good luck with the wild camping this year – the weather’s almost good enough already. Laurence

  4. Looks like a great book, and one I will be adding to my Xmas list! I have seen you on ‘Dina and KB’, and noticed your name, as I am also East of Elveden, not far from Dereham.
    Best wishes, Pete.

  5. Many thanks, Pete. Pleased to be added to your Xmas list. Beetley is, of course, East of Elveden (isn’t it close to Gressenhall museum?) but East of Elveden is as much a state of mind as it is real geography. All the best, Laurence

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: