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Claxton lies in the Yare Valley - seven miles south-east of Norwich. The name derives from 'Klakkr's enclosure'. Claxton Manor contains the remains of Claxton Castle which was mentioned in the Paston Letters.

In 1999, the nature writer Mark Cocker (1959- ) moved from Norwich to live in Claxton. He bought a house called 'The Hollies' and his move to the village is documented in his book Crow Country.

Mark Cocker at Rockland Broad

Mark Cocker at Nearby Rockland Broad (Photo © The Independent)

He was particularly struck by the darkness in the village at night:

'In Norwich, like any city, there was always enough ambient nocturnal glow to negotiate the house's interior without ever resorting to a switch. But when the sun sets in the village, the loss of light can be total. At first I found it quite disconcerting to be lying in Mary's arms and not to be able to see her even when my face was inches from hers.'

Claxton lies just above the floodplain of the River Yare - directly opposite Buckenham - which is the location which inspired Crow Country. Each evening in winter, thousands of rooks and jackdaws pass over the railway line here and head for the woods known as Buckenham Carrs.
'They wind up into a single swirling vortex that breaks apart as small groups fling themselves to Earth. It is an extraordinary performance. I am so mesmerised by the flock's sudden and convulsive disintegration that I fail to absorb the trajectory followed by any one individual.'

River Yare at Claxton

River Yare and Claxton Pumping Station

Claxton provides the title for a collection of Cocker's articulate newspaper articles about wildlife: Claxton: Field Notes from a Small Planet - which was published in 2014. Once again the Yare Valley provides the focus for his accounts of birds, worms and other animals - though he does range further afield.

Cocker also co-wrote Birds Britannica with Richard Mabey (see Roydon) - however  Mabey was suffering from depression at the time so the bulk of the work was undertaken by Cocker. Mabey's struggle with depression and his eventual Norfolk-related cure is told in his moving memoir Nature Cure (2005).

Before establishing himself as a writer and journalist, Cocker studied English Literature at the University of East Anglia.

Much of the Yare valley is now a nature reserve - running out from Whitlingham through RSPB managed Strumpshaw, Buckenham and Berney and also encompassing Ted Ellis' famous Wheatfen Broad at Surlingham. The area is renowned for its winter flocks of bean geese and wigeon and for its spectacular Broadland scenery:

More photographs of Claxton




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