Cycling in Norfolk
A Circular Ride Visiting Historical Sites Around Stiffkey

For some people, cycling is all about speeds and distances. For us, it's about exploring. And if you like finding interesting sites during your cycle ride, then this route has it in spades. This is cycling in Norfolk at its best!

Just make sure you have plenty of spare memory in your camera or phone, because you’re going to need it during this ride.

The ride starts in Stiffkey on the north Norfolk coast and is about 28 miles long. Don’t let the distance deter you from this ride as there are plenty of stops at interesting landmarks, where you'll jump on and off your bike to walk around. Also, the route offers a couple of shortcuts if you need them. That’s another great advantage of cycling in Norfolk, as there are so many nice roads to choose from!

When we did this cycle ride, we were staying in a holiday cottage in Stiffkey as the Blakeney cottage we had used the previous years had become a private home. So, we started this ride from Bridge Street.

A convenient starting point for visitors is from St. John's Church in Stiffkey on the A149 as there is off-road parking outside the church. Before setting off, it is worth having a look around this lovely flint walled church, and from the churchyard you get views of Stiffkey Old Hall.

St. John's Church in Stiffkey © essentially-england.comSt. John's Church in Stiffkey ©
Stiffkey Saltmarsh Area © essentially-england.comStiffkey Saltmarsh Area ©

Cycling in Norfolk – Stiffkey Circular Cycle Ride Route Map

If you use Komoot GPS tracking for your route planning, then you can link to the details here.

Ride west along the A149 into Stiffkey, where the route turns left on to Bridge Street and sets off into the small lanes. We’re heading off towards Walsingham which is a lovely old town dominated by the story of the widow of the lord of the manor having a vision of the Virgin Mary. That happened all the way back in 1061, since when Walsingham has become a popular pilgrimage destination. Early pilgrims would have visited the abbey that was built to celebrate the Virgin's visitation. These days, Walsingham houses a large religious centre. It is definitely worth stopping to look around The Shine of our Lady of Walsingham and the ruins of Walsingham Abbey.

The Shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham © essentially-england.comInside The Shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham
Walk of the Stations at The Shrine of Our Lady Walsingham © essentially-england.comWalk of the Stations at The Shrine of Our Lady Walsingham

The next point of call is just along the road and is the Catholic National Shrine and Basilica of Our Lady of Walsingham. We’ve seen this site grow in size and become busier each year we visit. On our first ever visit the site was much smaller, and we found the Slipper Chapel a very peaceful place.

Our route twists left and right through narrow lanes to join a slightly larger road, the B1355, in North Creake. A mile or so along this road, look for the signs to the Creake Abbey ruins.

This is the halfway point of the ride, and the abbey ruins make a lovely place to take a break and get off the bike for a bit. Wander the ruins and read about the history of Creake Abbey on the information boards. There is a cafe here if refreshments are needed, although I'm not sure if it opens every day.

Creake Abbey Ruins © essentially-england.comCreake Abbey Ruins ©

Just two miles away is our next stop in Burnham Thorpe, the birthplace of one of Britain’s greatest Naval officers, Admiral Lord Nelson. You can stop for refreshments here, using the same hostelry Lord Nelson would have visited. You can see wooden benches he sat on, the original stone floor he walked upon, and plenty of Nelson memorabilia hanging from the walls - though I'm guessing the pub was going by another name back then! To learn more about one of our nation’s greatest heroes stop at the pretty All Saints Church where his father used to be the rector. The church has Nelson memorabilia on display - one of my favourites being a facsimile copy of the 1805 edition of The Times reporting on the Battle of Trafalgar. Before reaching the church, there is now a life-size wood carving of Lord Nelson watching over the village.

Burnham Thorpe Village Sign © essentially-england.comBurnham Thorpe Village Sign
Inside All Saints Church, Burnham Thorpe © essentially-england.comInside All Saints Church, Burnham Thorpe

Leaving Burnham Thorpe, the route skirts the edge of Burnham Market to join a small lane to our next point of interest, The Carmelite Friary.

The friary was founded around 1245 and became a thriving community. At its peak there would have been 15 friars living here and the site would have included a church, cloisters, dormitories, kitchens, and all the other paraphernalia of a prosperous religious house. Now, sadly, all you can see above the ground are parts of the church and a perimeter wall.

Carmelite Friary Church Front © essentially-england.comCarmelite Friary Church Front
Carmelite Friary Ruins © essentially-england.comCarmelite Friary Ruins

With about ten miles to go, our circuit re-joins the B1355 north of Burnham Market. Keep an eye out to your right after leaving the friary as there is a nice view across to Burnham Overy Windmill.

There Are Great Views When Cycling in Norfolk, Burnham Overy Windmil © essentially-england.comThere Are Great Views When Cycling in Norfolk, Burnham Overy Windmill ©

Cycling in Norfolk gives you lots of wonderful photo opportunities, and along our route into Wells-next-the-Sea you can find the old watermill by the River Burn, Burnham Overy Windmill, and Holkham village, where you could extend your ride by turning right and cycle up the drag to see Holkham Hall and the parkland. Otherwise, continue into Wells-next-the-Sea and treat yourself to tasty fish and chips right by the harbourside. A must in our books!

The Harbour at Wells-next-the-Sea © essentially-england.comThe Harbour at Wells-next-the-Sea ©
Fish and Chips in Wells-next-the-Sea © essentially-england.comFish and Chips in Wells-next-the-Sea ©

It's just one more push along the A149 back to the church in Stiffkey now. To your left and right will be views across saltmarsh landscape and maybe the chance for some good bird spotting!

Happy and safe cycling, we hope you enjoy your cycling in Norfolk!

Whilst in Stiffkey, why not take one of the lovely walks through the saltmarshes to the sea? It was a regular evening walk for us during our holiday or you go for a turn around the Stiffkey Whirlygig.

Are You Planning a Holiday in Norfolk?

Where You Could Stay

Norfolk has no shortage of fabulous holiday accommodation whether you want to spend time on the beach, love boating or want to explore inland. You may covet a tiny fisherman's cottage like the one in Blakeney we kept returning to. You may like something larger and more modern like a loft overlooking the Norfolk Broads, or the right place for you may be a chic city apartment perfectly placed to explore Norwich...

Sleeps 2

The Clockhouse
North Lopham
Sleeps 2

Lakeside Lodge
East Harling
Sleeps 2

To see other holiday cottages in Norfolk click here. Or check out holiday cottages in other parts of England by clicking here.

Or you could try a family orientated holiday resort in Norfolk. There's plenty of choice...

If you need to find a hotel, then try one of these search platforms...


What You Could See and Do

It's next to impossible to be bored in Norfolk, there's just so much to do and see. The list below includes some of our favourite places

For more ideas try our Things to do in Norfolk page...

For more holiday ideas return from our cycling in Norfolk Stiffkey circular bike ride to the Norfolk page.