Name: Thurne to West Somerton
Location: Shallam Dyke Marshes
Compartment Status Information
Compartment 7 comprises an 11.4km stretch of floodbank on the left bank of the River Thurne between Thurne Dyke and Somerton Dyke. The bank passes through the important and busy tourist centre of Potter Heigham as well as some quieter areas such as around the margins of Martham Broad.
There are many sites of historical interest within this flood compartment, such as Thurne Dyke Drainage Mill, built in the early 19th century, Repps Drainage Mill and Martham Level Drainage Mill which is now converted into a house (all Grade II listed). Also included are the remains of Midland and Great Northern Joint Railway line, sites of World War II defences, former peat extraction sites and former drainage mills. Recorded archaeological findings include Prehistoric pot boilers, Neolithic flint and Bronze Age pottery.
The compartment has two important wildlife sites � Shallam Dyke Marshes SSSI near Thurne and parts of the Upper Thurne Broads and Marshes SSSI close to Somerton. Marsh harriers are regularly seen and if you are lucky the distinctive call of the bittern may be heard. Many lengths of the floodbank are used by common lizards, especially adjacent to the riverside chalets. In advance of the construction works we have had to capture and relocate some of the lizards to suitable habitat that has been created nearby. Our student Environmental Scientist has been involved in recording (digital photos) individual animals and will be monitoring the success of the relocation work as part of her university dissertation.
There are plenty of opportunities for walking within the compartment with the Weavers Way long distance footpath. This runs along the floodbank until Potter Heigham Old Bridge where it crosses the river to the right bank, at this point a public footpath continues along the left bank until the end of the compartment. There are additional public footpaths which link to the floodbank footpath at Thurne and Somerton Dykes as well as road accesses at Repps, Potter Heigham and Martham.
The piled sections of the compartment are popular bank fishing sites as well as Somerton Dyke and the fishing platforms on the stretch of river adjacent to the Martham Pits fishing lakes. There are excellent opportunities for fishing from boat especially at the moorings at Potter Heigham. However, boats are restricted on Hickling Broad, Horsey Mere and Martham Broad during the winter to minimise disturbance to important wintering birds.
There are Broads Authority 24 hour moorings immediately downstream of Potter Heigham Old Bridge and upstream of the New Bridge. Private moorings are located at Repps, Martham Dyke and West Somerton Dyke. There are also private long stay moorings throughout much of the compartment and casual moorings opposite Mill House, at Dungeons corner and alongside Staithe House Farm. Short term visitor moorings are available along Thurne Dyke.
Flood alleviation improvement works started on site in spring 2009 and will be completed in 2010. There will be some restrictions on access during the works and for a period afterwards whilst vegetation re-establishes. However, local diversions will be signed and full access maintained for chalet owners.
Click here to read about the planning application for Compartment 7