Situated somewhere between Great Yarmouth and Reedham, Berney Arms is about as splendidly isolated as it gets. If you’re not approaching by boat, the only vehicular alternative is getting off at the dedicated train station. The stop was erected in 1844 – the landowner, one Thomas Berney, agreed to the railway’s construction only on the condition that a station was placed on the way.
It at least affords greater access to the drainage mill. Berney Arms High Mill stands beside the River Yare, now bereft of almost all the dwellings that stood in the vicinity and dominating the skyline by itself.
But I suspect that, for many, even the glorious windmill couldn’t overshadow the other pillar of this unique area: the eighteenth century public house, the Berney Arms itself. The establishment lasted long after the aforementioned community disappeared; sold on its quirkiness alone, business was consistently strong – indeed, pints were still being pulled until October 2015, when closure came with the departure of its landlord. At some point since it has suffered at the hands of vandals and arsonists. A shameful desecration and a sad end of an era. Hopefully, it will one day reopen its doors.
The area is reachable on foot – if you’re prepared to make the five mile treck from Great Yarmouth across the marshes – along the Wherryman’s Way footpath. I suppose it was a handy option for walking off that pub lunch. Enchanted as I am with the place, it’s something I’ve been meaning to do for a while now. One day, when the weather is just right!