It was an easy decision; our first solo tandem holiday was to be spent cycling in Norfolk. There is no better way to explore a county that is rumoured to be flat, and upon inspection of road maps, Norfolk appeared to have a good choice of small rural roads. We wanted to explore the north coast and Norfolk Broads’ area and settled on renting an old fisherman’s cottage in Blakeney.
As my experience of Norfolk was a quick drive up from the south London area to do one or two cycle races, we bought a rather useful cycling guide to get us started on our discoveries. As we got to know the area better over the years, we started planning our own rides and were choosing the places we enjoyed and stitching the route together with new things we wanted to see. The guide we started with is now rather worn after use, but we did find it easy to use with the route clearly marked on Ordnance Survey maps and clear written instructions. On the tandem, it was easy to use without too many stops, as I would have the book in a clear plastic pouch and hang it around my neck and shoulders so that Sue could map read as we cycled along.
Now, though, it’s all modern technology with GPS tracking devices that and all sorts of sources to download thousands of cycle routes. We now use a Garmin Edge to help us find our way around cycle rides that we haven’t done before. It makes exploring so much easier…
Our first tandem ride was route 3 from our Philip’s Cycle Tours Norfolk and Suffolk guidebook; “Northeast from Fakenham to the coast at Blakeney and Cley”. This had the advantage that we could start the ride from our holiday cottage. This 41-mile route became the “holiday ride” and we would always start our Norfolk holidays with this ride as we loved the ride into Cley and along to the ford at Glandford.
Another ride that became a must do each holiday was route 7 which was a 34-mile ride from “Swaffham to Cockley Cley, the Nar Valley, and Castle Acre”. As Castle Acre was of great interest to us, we would start the ride there so that we could visit the castle and priory after the ride. By chance we found a lovely pub in Castle Acre that served an excellent mix of Greek and East European food and pickles, but on our third visit we were disappointed as the chef had changed and the menu was not so interesting. Sadly, we stopped doing this ride after that.
Cycling in the Norfolk Broads was also very enjoyable, and we really loved finding boardwalks to the waters edge. We’ve done several of the rides from our trusty guidebook.
A couple of rides we made up include a route from Sheringham Park to Baconsthorpe Castle. This 12-mile route leaves the National Trust gardens and twists through quiet lanes to the ruined castle, and another ride is from Stiffkey to Burnham Thorpe, the birthplace of Naval hero Admiral Lord Nelson. This ride also goes through Well-next-the-Sea, and this is an ideal opportunity to have fish and chips by the harbourside.
Our experience of cycling in Norfolk has taught us that the roads are not all flat. There are some lumps and bumps, but they’re not too difficult. The highest point in Norfolk, at a staggering 105 metres, is Beacon Hill, near the village of West Runton between Sheringham and Cromer. I’m not sure that we’ve ridden that one, so there’s our challenge for our next ride in Norfolk!
We tend to go for our Norfolk holidays at the end of May or early June for a couple of reasons. Firstly, it’s outside the main holiday season and the already quiet roads are even quieter. Secondly, it’s the asparagus and strawberry season, and each day we will stop at a farm shop to buy fresh asparagus for dinner. Third, the rhododendrons at Sheringham Park should be in full bloom, and lastly the seals should be on Blakeney Point which makes an interesting walk after a morning bike ride.
Being English, we’ve got to quickly mention the weather!
For us, the May/June weather has been very reasonable with perhaps the odd wet day. We often take days out along the Norfolk coast throughout the year and have been there during the winter months. It can get very windy and, if from the east, it can get bitterly cold.
Happy cycling, we hope you enjoy your cycling in Norfolk!
Here are some links to our favourite routes when cycling in Norfolk.
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...
However, if you fancy a hotel how about some of these...
To view more hotels in Norfolk click here or you could try our Booking.com search box.
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