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Brecks & Beaches

Tour: N5
Circular Cycling Holiday
Hotel To Hotel Cycling Holiday

Encounter amazing, unexpected gems of civilisation amidst the wildest woods, heaths and winding creeks of Norfolk’s big sky landscapes. Historic Walsingham has attracted generations of pilgrims; today’s Norfolk visitors have more of a habit of heading to the stylish ‘Burnhams’, aka ‘Chelsea-on-Sea’. Country houses fit for a queen, castles and priories, Palladian edifices and great market towns – cycle to discover them all along peaceful country lanes with a charming surprise around almost every corner. Read More



Start Day

Weds, Thurs, Sun

Board Basis

Bed & Breakfast

Prices from



5 Days, 4 Nights


Mar - Nov

Tour Grade

Grade 2 (Easy)

Read Overview
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This is a tour that explores the many facets of Norfolk, from the history and grandeur of Tudor Oxburgh Hall, to the quaint medieval town of Castle Acre and on to the ancient ports on the North Norfolk coast.

Tour Code:
Circular Cycling Holiday, Hotel To Hotel Cycling Holiday
5 Days, 4 Nights
Board Basis:
Bed & Breakfast
Mar - Nov


Day 1 Arrive & relax

Arrive north of Thetford Forest, where your accommodation in the Brecks has the impressive moated Oxburgh Hall (NT) as a next door neighbour! Take time to explore the Estate’s parkland or enjoy a visit to the fine Tudor house, grounds and kitchen gardens.

Built in 1482 in fashionable redbrick, Oxburgh Hall was the home of the Bedingfields. This Catholic family were staunch supporters of Mary I, and its fate and fortunes ebbed and flowed with whims and religious leanings of monarchs. The house is full of hidden treasures including a priest’s hole and illuminated manuscripts found under the floorboards! But it’s the beautiful embroidery, brought here in 1761, but created by Mary I herself and Bess of Hardwick which steal the show.

A real Breckland beauty spot, this is the perfect place to relax and restore, before the start of your gentle Norfolk journey – once your bikes are provided after breakfast the next morning.

Overnight: Oxborough

Day 2 Acres of history

What better way to set the scene for a day with history around every corner, than pedaling out through lands associated with ancient Queen Boudicca and her Iceni tribe, as well as the Tudor queens who crossed Oxburgh Hall’s moat?

Little lanes lead alongside farm and woodland to the Regency market town of Swaffham, home to a wedge-shaped market place, a fine domed Buttercross and impressive lantern-towered church complete with a hammerbeam roof adorned with 190 carved angels. It’s an awesome sight before you wing it towards the historic walled gardens of West Acre, and the perfect medieval town in microcosm – Castle Acre.

Sleeping as it has for centuries alongside the River Nar, Castle Acre is an inspirational site (and sight!) which just oozes history at every turn – here, the town’s Baileygate; there, one of England’s largest and best-preserved priories, dating back to 1090 – and, to top it all, William de Warenne’s 12th century castle earthworks.

You’ll find more monastic connections too in the form of ancient Abbey fishponds up at Great Massingham, as your route takes you over the ‘roof of Norfolk’ (a towering height of 95m!) through peaceful countryside to settle down in the Fakenham area and your accommodation for the next two nights.

Overnight: In the Fakenham area

Mileage: Min 31 Max 30 Rec 39

Day 3 Circular route options

The area of Fakenham, a traditional market town, makes a perfect base for a choice of circular routes exploring North Norfolk and the coast.

Explore Little Walsingham, where a vision in 1061 inspired the building of a replica of the Holy House in Nazareth. Enclosed in a stone chapel in the 15th century, it became a place of pilgrimage second only to Canterbury.

Choose to ‘steam’ along to the Norfolk Coast courtesy of the Wells to Walsingham Light Railway, or set your sights on the North Sea horizon and cycle to Wells-next-the-Sea. The ancient quay and, narrow streets full of flint-faced cottages and little shops are a must to explore in Wells.

Swing by the sand dunes of Holkham Bay close to the Earl of Leicester’s Palladian pile, Holkham Hall, and take in the sleepy creeks and backwaters of Burnham Overy Staithe for a real sense of the hauntingly beautiful nature of the North Norfolk Coast.

Overnight: In the Fakenham area

Mileage: Min 23 Max 39

Day 4 Winding ways & wonder-full treasures

A day full of Norfolk insights and church treasure treats as you push your pedals gently back to Oxborough.

Set out with the meandering River Wensum for company, pedaling south to Gressenhall and The Farm & Workhouse Museum of Norfolk Life. From dark tales of workhouse days to brightly coloured gypsy caravans, Norfolk cottage gardens and rare breed farm animals, this is a fascinating living museum full of contrasts and insights into the rural farming communities and medieval textile industries which put the county on the European map.

Passing the market town of Dereham, little lanes lead to Bradenham, home to the bold, buttressed, but sadly redundant church of St Mary’s, cared for by the Churches Conservation Trust. The ‘lost’ village of Houghton-on-the-Hill nearby may be no more, but its church still stands and is definitely worth the gentle detour. Some of its early wall-painting date from 1090, others from the 1400s – testimony to the centuries when the community here was both wealthy and important.

North Pickenham has an unusual history too – as a corner of Norfolk once belonging to Yorkshire! As well as medieval connections with Richmond Castle in northern England, the village has close links with America since USAAF airmen flew B-24 Liberator bombers from its WWII airfield nearby.

Swinging back via Swaffham, why not call in at the market town’s museum and heritage centre? It’s full of tales from the fortune-seeking pedlar who returned from his travels to find his crock of gold back home in his garden to local Edwardian gent, Howard Carter, who found his golden opportunity for fame and fortune in Egypt’s ‘Valley of the Kings’ and the tomb of Tutankhamun.

Overnight: Oxborough, by Oxburgh Hall Estate.

Mileage: Rec 33 Min 31 Max 33

Day 5 Depart after breakfast – or go even further back in time

It’s your call this morning – lock up your hire bikes and head home if you will, or alternatively make the most of a great little circular day ride, created just because we’d hate you to miss a truly different ancient site like no Norfolk other!

About a quarter of the ride is off road, along gravel forest tracks as you pedal via Breckland woods and heaths to the haunting, pitted landscape known as Grimes Graves – an area of flint mines dating to Neolithic times. The on-site museum reveals the secrets of this other-worldly area which still bears the scars of glaciers. Learn about its history, geology and its settlers, then don a hard hat and descend by ladder into the depths of an original Neolithic flint mine yourself. The grey, glassy rock dug out from across this vast site, was a valuable commodity. It was ‘knapped’ to create sharp tools – a highly skilled job – and millions of years later, flint was mined, knapped locally and exported to supply the gun trade.

Return via the forest fire tracks to Oxborough to lock your hire bikes away in the accommodation’s bike store, before heading homeward.

Mileage: Min 28 Max 31

Dates & Prices

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Ensuite accommodation as described with full English breakfast (prices based on two adults sharing)

Hire of hybrid bicycle and ancillary equipment (single pannier and handlebar bag or map holder, pump, basic tools, spare inner tube & puncture repair equipment, helmet if required)

Luggage transfer between hotels

Delivery & collection of bicycles (delivery is after breakfast on Day 2 of your tour unless we agree an alternative time)

Local assistance on call (although puncture repair is excluded)

Detailed itinerary with meticulously planned and researched routes following quiet country lanes with a choice of routes available each day (usually recommended, long and short)

Route notes, descriptions and use of good OS mapping (maps available on arrival) We pride ourselves on our detailed level of documentation which includes plenty of top tips for places to visit or for relaxing and sampling the local fare along the way. We send electronic versions of these documents by email approximately two weeks before your stay so you can plan ahead and look forward to your gentle cycling adventure. We have now switched the default navigation system to GPS – in our opinion this is now the most convenient method as it eliminates the need for frequent stops to check the map

  • We provide you with access to a premium GPS smartphone navigation app (IOS or Android) and send you links so that you can download all of the route options before you leave home. We will provide a handlebar bracket for your phone if required; it is also recommended that you bring a spare battery/powerbank to make sure that your phone lasts the day
  • We can also provide GPS tracks in whatever format if you prefer to load them into your own GPS Unit. Finally, we can provide a limited number of GPS units with the routes preloaded – this is on a first come first served basis – please let us know as soon as you can if you would like to use one
  • We will also provide OS 1:50,000 mapping on arrival as additional support to allow for any impromptu route changes
  • Traditional map-based navigation (using marked OS maps) is still available as an alternative at extra cost upon request (at least two weeks in advance)
Please note that the price EXCLUDES

Costs of getting to and from the start point

Accommodation Options

Two unrated, but very comfortable properties – one a lovely country pub with rooms at Oxborough near Swaffham, with the second an inn housed in an historic old watermill in the Fakenham area.

We are pleased to discuss details on request.

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