St Benet’s Abbey and windmill – a photographic blog
Winter sunsets at and around the atmospheric and historic St Benet’s Abbey and mill ruins on the banks of the River Bure in Norfolk.
This is such a special place in Norfolk with legends of ghostly monks, once inhabitants of a remote medieval monastery.
The wooden cross with the word ‘peace’ with geese flying past.
On a winter’s afternoon, aside from stunning medieval ruins, there is much wildlife to enjoy too. We saw geese, barn owls, swans and birds of prey in a very short time.
I got as close as I could to this beautiful young barn owl. The pastel pink of the lowering sun providing a pretty frame around him/her.
My main preoccupation was the stunning sunset on this visit. It was truly spectacular.
The colours changed at every moment. The sky turning from deep blue to pastel shades of pink and lilac, then to golden. My tip is to stay for the duration of any sunset as you will see the most incredible light display evolve. Never think its over until that fire ball finally slips below the horizon, and darkness finally drops like a blanket over your head.
The best times to visit to see wildlife is early morning or late afternoon. That’s when you will see the owls hunting and they come quite close. Be prepared to brush shoulders with other photographers! It’s always good to ask where they have seen the wildlife. People who love nature are happy to share their experiences.
This is a beautiful place, go and enjoy it in peace.
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Carrow Bridge is a lifting bridge. Unfortunately, I have never been lucky enough to see it lift up. I like to peer into the little control hut and imagine it in operation. Despite my best attempts to find a video of it opening, so far, I haven’t been successful. All I can find is a video of the test opening in 2018 to allow TS Lord Nelson aka HMS Vale pass through, which isn’t particularly interesting!
The current Carrow Bridge was constructed in 1923 to replace the old bridge to the South. More recently, there have been plans by the council to weld the bridge shut. Read a press release from the Norwich Society about this here.
Reginald Dann, lived in Carrow Bridge House (the former bridge master’s house) for more than 50 years until it was sold at auction. Thankfully, a plan by the county council to demolish it was defeated by the city council.
You can see images of the bridge open here in an EDP article, when the TS Lord Nelson passed through in 2004. There is also a nice image in the article of the The ship “Paullgate” of Hull carrying cargo under Carrow bridge at the port of Norwich. Dated 20 May 1966. The TS Lord Nelson was eventually decommissioned and now rests in Bristol.
I walk across the bridge at least once every day, and I also cross it every night. I enjoy looking out over both sides of Carrow bridge, but my favourite view is looking back up the river past the Devil’s Tower towards old Paper Mill Yard.
You can read more about the history of the Devil’s Tower here – it is a virtually unique structure in England, built in the early 14th century. Directly opposite is the Windlass Tower.
I will write more about the Wensum Boom Towers in future posts.
A view further up from Carrow Bridge.
Carrow Bridge by night.
I frequently pass under the bridge, on the way into the city. It is a favourite spot for pigeons to court in the spring. There is also the occasional dove.
Sometimes swans sit in the wooden under-structure compartments as if they were stables. I am sure there is a technical name for the structure, but I have no idea what it is.
Eric and Erica, the Egyptian geese, like to perch on the wooden sidings that are there to guide boats through, but usually they are keeping guard on the river bank. Occasionally, a heron perches near the bridge too.
On summer nights, if you are lucky, you may catch a glimpse of bats performing aerobatics around the bridge.
Street Art under Carrow Bridge
Every now and then, new street art appears under the bridge. These images have disappeared now, which is a shame because I really liked them. They are preferable to the meaningless tagging that crops up everywhere (not meaningless to gangs, I guess, but still an eyesore).