HIDDEN away close to the heart of Norwich is a vast derelict wasteland that next to nobody knows about.
It is called the Deal Ground and it covers 50 untapped acres between Trowse, Whitlingham and the railway station. The reason you haven't heard of it is that it is very difficult to get to. In fact it is virtually an island, hemmed in by a railway line and the Rivers Yare and Wensum. In the past I have squeezed past a gate post behind the sewage works at Trowse to explore, but this time I went by canoe.
Again from Trowse (the Yare tributary flowing alongside the meadow next to Whitlingham Lane) I paddled downstream to the Yare's confluence with the Wensum. Then I turned left to head up towards Norwich. Once you get past Carrow Yacht Club, everything on your left is the Deal Ground - so-called because it's where Colman's used to make their packaging out of soft wood or deal.
My book couldn't have been written without a little light trespass, so I pulled the canoe out of the water and had a wander. The first thing that strikes you is its size, then the silence. The sights and sounds of Norwich are all very close, but here nothing moves. Yet this is no wilderness, the hand of man is everywhere. Deserted buildings, concrete hard standing, even a Victorian kiln. I guess it is the classic brownfield site, awaiting development. But as yet there's no deal for the Deal Ground.
* More info on Colman's and the Deal Ground here.