Initially glimpsed on an OS map and the cause of a sudden burst of bafflement and excitement - a loch? In Norfolk? - yet the reality wasn't quite the hidden, ancient, Celtic-magickal body of water I had been imagining.
The creation of Watton's Loch Neaton is traced back to the 1875 extension of the Thetford - Watton railway line to Watton - Swaffham. Massive earth excavations were needed to build the track up over the low-lying land of a nearby hamlet - Neaton - and the area of the excavation would become an entire leisure park by the early twentieth century, the craters being filled with water from the River Wissey. During its history, the park has hosted tennis courts, a bowling green, fishing, boating, swimming, even (when winters were winters) skating.
Today, of course, there remains little of any note. A picnic area. Beer cans around the charred remains of (prohibited) barbecues. Dead pigeons. Signs warning against swimming, unlicensed fishing, rats spreading disease. The weather didn't help my mood: heavy grey skies, greasy late-spring drizzle, lake water the colour of cold tea. Other, more photogenic, images online suggest the lakeside can be as picturesque as anywhere else, but today, the magick was definitely lacking.
Oh, and the 'loch'? In honour of the Scottish labourers who excavated the site all those years ago.