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Norfolk Castles, Minsters & More

Tour: N4A
Circular Cycling Holiday
Hotel To Hotel Cycling Holiday

Go for a gentle spin under Norfolk’s huge skies for some scenic cycling at its East Anglian best, with a rich helping of history at every turn on this great little circular adventure. From Tudor Oxburgh Hall with its moat and Mary I connections, transport yourself through time and the low-lying Norfolk countryside via the almost intact medieval village of Castle Acre to North Elmham with its treasure church and mysterious minster ruins. The fascinating Farm & Workhouse Museum of Norfolk Life, Georgian Swaffham’s domed Buttercross and more amazing church gems are highlights on your return route - but first take your pick from our great selection of day rides to cycle the pretty river valleys and outstretched estates of a county which won its wealth through the medieval wool trade. From stylish Georgian Holt with its steam railway and the lakeside parklands of Jacobean Blickling Hall to memories of wartime airfields, American heroes and lost villages like Houghton on the Hill, Norfolk has so many secrets to share. Which hidden treasures will you be heading for? Read More



Start Day

Weds, Thurs, Fri, Sat, Sun

Board Basis

Bed & Breakfast

Prices from



4 Days, 3 Nights


Mar - Nov

Tour Grade

Grade 3 (Moderate)

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Home > England > Norfolk Castles, Minsters & More


This two-centre Norfolk treat is a great way to get a sense of East Anglia’s rich history across the ages. Discover river valleys and little towns lost in time, great estates and impressive churches as you enjoy scenic cycling along mainly rural lanes.

Highlights include Tudor Oxburgh Hall, medieval Castle Acre, the indoor-outdoor Farm & Workhouse Museum of Norfolk Life set in a former workhouse, farmland and gardens and early medieval church wall-paintings in the lost village of Houghton on the Hill – not to mention your choice of day-ride discoveries, from Blakeney’s quayside and nature reserves on the North Norfolk Coast or the Georgian market town of Holt to Abraham Lincoln’s ancestral home of Swanton Morely and Jacobean Blickling Hall.

Tour Code:
Circular Cycling Holiday, Hotel To Hotel Cycling Holiday
4 Days, 3 Nights
Board Basis:
Bed & Breakfast
Mar - Nov


Day 1 Arrive & explore

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

Built in 1482 in fashionable redbrick, Oxburgh Hall was home to the Bedingfields – a Catholic family and staunch supporters of Mary I, whose fate and fortunes ebbed and flowed with whims and religious leanings of monarchs. Don’t miss the beautiful embroidery created by Mary I and Bess of Hardwick, the illuminated manuscripts found under the floorboards, the priest’s hole and charming kitchen gardens.

Wander, wonder, relax and restore – your gentle Norfolk journey will start when your bikes are provided after breakfast tomorrow morning.

Day 2 Acres of history

Pedaling out through lands associated not just with Tudor queens, but with the ancient Queen Boudicca and her Iceni tribe,truly sets the scene for a day with history around every corner. Little lanes lead alongside farm- and woodland to the Regency town of Swaffham, home to a wedge-shaped market place and fine domed Buttercross. Take a break to explore the impressive lantern- towered church where the hammerbeam roof adorned with 190 carved angels will surely give you wings enough to cycle onwards to the historic walled gardens of West Acre, and tiny medieval town of Castle Acre.

Castle Acre is an inspirational site (and sight!) by the River Nar which simply oozes history from William de Warenne’s 12th century castle earthworks and the town’s Baileygate to one of England’s largest and best-preserved priories, dating back to 1090.
There are more monastic connections in the form of ancient Abbey fishponds up at Great Massingham, if you fancy going that extra mile or two, but all of the meticulously planned routes for the day ultimately lead to North Elmham’s mysterious ruined minster – and your hotel base for the next two nights.

Overnight: North Elmham

Mileage: Min 31 Max 33

Day 3 Choice of circular rides - Stately homes, steam railways & ruins

We provide around 12 scenic day rides for you to explore Norfolk in all directions from historic North Elmham. As a taster, we’ve included just 3 of those here. You’ll find another 5 featured in the itinerary of our N5A Great Houses & Golden Wonders tour. Which one will you choose?

Mileage: MinMax 45 (Based on rides outlined here – Longer rides also available.)

About the circular rides:

Our suggested routes for this Norfolk tour cover distances from 8- 45 miles/13-72 kms. We have given them our Grade 3 listing, indicating that a moderate level of fitness is required to enjoy them to the full. We pride ourselves on sharing scenic routes which allow you to experience the best of the area at the same time as travelling distances most comfortable for you.

You will have our full portfolio of 12 scenic day rides at your fingertips during your stay. Each circular route has its own Norfolk highlights from grand stately homes to museums, steam railways to castle and ecclesiastical ruins.

– Head west to combine a visit to The Farm & Workhouse Museum of Norfolk Life with American connections and wartime aviation history. Set in and around a converted workhouse at Gressenhall, the rural life museum is the perfect place to put your local discoveries in context. From Norfolk cottage gardens to rare breed animals and brightly coloured gypsy caravans to dark tales from workhouse days, it’s a fascinating museum experience full of contrasts and insights into the rural farming communities and medieval textile industries which put the county on the European map. In season, there are living history exhibits and interactive sessions too – truly something for everyone and something from every era.

Nearby Swanton Morley is not only the ancestral home of Abraham Lincoln, but has connections with a 20th century President of the United States of America too. It was here in 1942 at Robertson Barracks that Eisenhower and Churchill are said to have witnessed the launch of the first British and US combined bombing raid. The military airfield’s Art Deco air traffic control tower still stands to this day, just like the village’s great church and windmill towers too.

– Set out to the north-east between the Wensum and Bure river valleys to discover the outstretched estate, lake, gardens and Jacobean mansion of Blickling Hall – a site connected with the ill-fated, Anne Boleyn. Other historic highlights include: the medieval shrine of Reepham, one of only two places in Europe with three churches on one site; the church of St Agnes Cawston with its original medieval flooring and Bawdeswell, home of Geoffrey Chaucer’s Reeve and a 20th century church, built after a WWII de Havilland Mosquito crashed into and destroyed the original one.

– Head north to the bird-reserve rich North Norfolk coastlands around Cley-next-the-Sea and the hugely historic, yet tiny harbour village of Blakeney with its oh-so-impressive flint-faced church. Check out the Georgian town of Holt, the awesome remote remains of Binham Priory or the medieval earthworks and 1750s River Glaven watermill at Hunworth, where the golden wonder has to be the church’s bronze filigree sanctuary lamp, rumoured once to have belonged to the Lady of the Lamp herself – Florence Nightingale!

Day 4 Winding ways & wonder-full treasures

Whichever length of ride you choose today, there’s a myriad of small villages and flint-clad churches to admire as you cycle gently through the Norfolk countryside back to Oxborough in the Brecks. You can be sure that each of our route options is brim-full of history and mystery…

With the meandering River Wensum for company, start by cycling south to Gressenhall and the mighty Victorian workhouse that is now home to The Farm & Workhouse Museum of Norfolk Life. It’s full of fascinating tales, artefacts live exhibits – definitely worth a visit if you didn’t make a day out of it on your choice of circular rides yesterday!

Pedal on past the town of Dereham and little lanes lead down towards Bradenham, home to the bold, buttressed, but sadly redundant church of St Mary’s, now in the care of the Churches Conservation Trust. The lost village of Houghton-on-the-Hill is nearby and worth the gentle detour. You’ll find it by its church – still standing tall, if lonely, and sharing some early wall-painting treasures (from 1090 and 1400s) which reveal the wealth and importance of the village in days gone by.

Just a few miles further, North Pickenham has an unusual history – this little corner of Norfolk was once deemed part of Yorkshire! Learn of its medieval connections with Richmond Castle, and its close links with America since USAAF airmen flew B-24 Liberator bombers from the nearby WWII airfield. The market town of Swaffham has some fine tales to tell too. Head to the heritage centre to hear how a fortune-seeking pedlar returned thwarted from London to find his treasure had been at home all the time… and how a locally-based Edwardian gent found fame and fortune in Egypt, when he discovered Tutankhamun’s tomb in the Valley of the Kings.

Finally turn your handlebars back towards Oxborough to return your bikes and reclaim your luggage near that moated Tudor landmark, visited (but not at the same time!) by England’s arch-rival queens – step-sisters Mary I and Elizabeth I .

Mileage: Min 30 Max 31

Dates & Prices

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For tour start days/dates, seasons and all prices, please click on the PRICES button above


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

The costs of getting to and from the start point

Accommodation Options

Selected very comfortable country inns in Oxborough and in North Elmham (2 nights).

We are pleased to discuss details on request

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