Funny little pond, locally quite well known, lots of stories about what it is, “it’s a bomb crater” (it isn’t), it’s a pit dug for gravel/minerals (probably not), it was made by Bren Carriers exercising on the heath in WW2, yes quite… bit far fetched I thought. Mousehold has a long history, like most things that exist now that we are so used to we ignore do, some are just more messed about than others and Mousehold is one of those, it has a lot of history in it on it and under it.

I’ve always thought the pond might just possibly be a sink hole. A lot of the gravel deposits in North and East Norfolk date back to the last 4 glaciations. Mousehold, not unlike the Cromer Holt Ridge, is a glacial feature or in fact a periglacial and post-glacial feature; a mix of material dump and flood gravels. It’s not a terminal moraine, but it looks like it’s all been dumped off the arse end of a glacier at some point one way or another. As it’s slowed all the gravel and sand it’s carried remorselessly south gets dropped not unlike a car tyre pushing up a ridge in gravel as it brakes only REALLY SLOWLY. Around half a million years ago the melting glacier dams it’s own melt water up against the terraine it’s surrounded by which then flow out across Mousehold right down to Rackheath and Salhouse dumping sand and shingle as it went. In a later ice advance the landscape again is terraformed, freeze and thaw, soils sloughing off in the wet, it would have been Tundra in the colder phases, ice formed surface patterns in the permafrost. I did think the pond could be glacial for a while, maybe an ice hollow collapsed but given how much of the heath has been dug up and generally messed about with by us humans it probably was Bren carriers going round in circles in the 1940s…

Vinegar Pond 2013 © Nick Stone

This is the only standing water on the heath, occasionally the valleys run, but this is the only pond; the Vinegar Pond because it gets strange red algal bloom in it. I’ve also seen it look white a few times which is a bit weird, It was also recently relined with clay to stop it from drying out. Anyway all theories are jolly nice, a pickle wrapped in a enigma and so on.

This is an area that boasts a lost chapel; it’s not lost it’s in some brambles and it’s quite large;  a ‘castle’, innumerable illegal gatherings, peasants revolts, gorse, dog walking, murders; including one that caused immense racial tension and further deaths, trees, Victorian and probably Medieval quarries, sledging, heather, anti-aircraft batteries, a railway line, bits of an airfield, more gorse, bits of a POW camp, dogging, at least two crashed Second World War aircraft, bags full of dog shit hanging in trees, Neolithic flint, and kids on mountain bikes with BB guns. It’s also nice to go for a walk on as it’s quite big and very natural.

I found a piece of worked flint near here once too, always nice, a really good bit too. There will be various bits of writing to come on Mousehold eventually, but The Vinegar Pond seemed like a good place to start for now. There’s tadpoles here in spring.

Mousehold Heath