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Norfolk Coast & Countryside

Tour: N8A
Circular Cycling Holiday
Hotel To Hotel Cycling Holiday

Hugely historic, the world under Norfolk’s all-embracing skies is simply the stuff of legends. This circular coast and country cycle tour from Queen Boudicca’s ancient homelands through the county which once ranked amongst England’s richest thanks to the medieval wool trade, certainly has plenty of stories to share. Discover the secrets of Tudor Oxburgh Hall and lost-in-time Castle Acre; the tale of Swaffham’s lucky pedlar and even the ancestral villages of Abraham Lincoln. Encounter North Norfolk’s haunting dunescapes, Sheringham, Cromer and tiny harbour villages. Royal Sandringham, the homes of England’s first Prime Minister and Anne Boleyn’s family estate line your gentle rides along quiet rural lanes and low-lying landscapes too - not forgetting countless monastic ruins and church treasures. Pedal through this famously connected wool town county and you’re sure to leave with many great cycling memories and plenty of yarns to spin when you get back home. Read More



Start Day

Thurs, Fri, Sat, Sun

Board Basis

Bed & Breakfast

Prices from



8 Days, 7 Nights


Mar - Nov

Tour Grade

Grade 2 (Easy)

Read Overview
Home > England > Norfolk Coast & Countryside


From the ancient Breckland heaths to the beautiful North Norfolk coast and into Norfolk’s historic heartlands, this tour leads you on a leisurely journey through so many of Norfolk’s best bits. Relaxed cycling on small roads, quiet country lanes and off-road paths joins together the legacies and legends of what was once one of England’s richest counties.

A wide choice of circular discovery-ride options on two days gives added flexibility to tailor the tour to your own interests. Highlights include Royal Sandringham, the Norfolk great houses of Holkham and Blickling, Georgian Holt and North Norfolk’s steam railway, the Farm & Workhouse Museum of Norfolk Life at Gressenhall, Regency Swaffham, curious Reepham and the Neolithic flint mines of Grimes Graves.

Tour Code:
Circular Cycling Holiday, Hotel To Hotel Cycling Holiday
8 Days, 7 Nights
Board Basis:
Bed & Breakfast
Mar - Nov


Day 1 Arrive & explore

Arrive in Oxborough in ‘The Brecks’ near Thetford Forest, where your accommodation has a stately home as a neighbour – the beautiful moated Oxburgh Hall (NT). Built in 1482 in fashionable redbrick, Oxburgh Hall was home to the Bedingfields. This Catholic family were staunch supporters of Mary I and as time passed, the tides turned on their fate and fortunes with whims and religious leanings of monarchs.

It’s hard to resist going for a stroll in the Estate’s parkland, and the Tudor house, grounds and kitchen gardens are a joy to visit. Look out for the priest’s hole, the illuminated manuscripts found under the floorboards and the fine embroidery by the hand of Mary I herself and Bess of Hardwick.

Your gentle Norfolk journey will start when your bikes are provided after breakfast tomorrow morning.

Overnight: Oxborough

Day 2 Villages great & small

Pedal down little lanes dotted with farmsteads and woodland, across lands associated not just with Tudor and Elizabethan queens, but with Queen Boudicca and her Iceni tribe. The medieval lantern-towered church of Swaffham is soon on the horizon, and it’s well worth calling by to admire the first of several awesome angel roofs which you will encounter as your Norfolk travels unfurl. Drink in a coffee along with the town’s Regency feel alongside the fine domed Buttercross perhaps, before continuing the fine walled gardens of historic West Acre and the unrivalled little collection of early medieval gems that is Castle Acre.

Nestled in a beautiful river valley, it’s a true window onto times past. The tiny medieval town sits sandwiched between 12th century castle earthworks and one of England’s largest and best preserved monastic sites, dating to 1090. If you’re into architectural treasures and tranquil, timeless views, this is a place for you!

Follow the Peddars Way (off-road path) a while and Great Massingham soon comes up with more abbey connections. A village known for its impressive green, the extensive ponds here were originally monastic ‘fisheries’, but a little further on, it’s Houghton Hall which steals the show.

This perfectly Palladian mansion was built by Britain’s first Prime Minister, Sir Robert Walpole and is now famed for its award-winning walled gardens, and sculpture park which often plays host to the work of internationally renowned artists.

Finally, as you wind your way towards your accommodation near the market town of Fakenham, keep an eye out for the tell-tale earthwork signs of lost medieval villages in the lanes around Broomsthorpe and close to the medieval church at Dunton.

Overnight: In the Fakenham area

Mileage: Rec 31 Min 30 Max 39

Day 3 Choice of circular routes – Royally & religiously connected countryside

The route options for today’s circular rides are packed with fascinating finds and famous folk storylines.

Take a gentle pedal west to revisit Palladian pile, Houghton Hall on route to royal family favourite, Sandringham and spin back by Bircham’s impressive tower mill. Both stately homes on this tour are a real treat, with something for everyone…
Be sure to plan a longer visit to Houghton Hall if you’re military-minded – as well as being home to sumptuous state rooms and amazing gardens, its Model Soldier Museum features one of the largest private collections of painted soldiers in the world, displayed in fascinating recreated battle-scapes.

Sandringham may be the Royal family’s residence of choice at Christmas, but the Victorian-built Jacobean-style house and its 600 acre park are beautiful throughout the year. With its stunning grounds, ‘homely’ royal house and fab museum packed with royal memorabilia, there’s so much to while away the day.

Or what about a cycle northwards to out-of-this-Norfolk-world destination, Walsingham – a pilgrimage site since medieval times? Following holy visions in 1061, Little Walsingham attracted the attention of the great and good from across Europe, even rivalling Canterbury with its shrine. The Reformation left its mighty mark here, but abbey ruins in beautiful grounds, religious communities and a pilgrim chapels still make this a fascinating and highly spiritual place.

Lazy lanes will lead your there via North Barsham’s tiny tower-free church and Houghton St Giles, an historic treasure church, ‘pilgrim’s rest’ and home to one of Norfolk’s most renowned painted rood screens. Your return ride winds past chequered brick farmsteads and sleepy villages including Great Snoring (!) for a chance to explore the bustling market town of Fakenham with its more down-to-earth Museum of Gas and Local History.

Overnight: In the Fakenham area

Mileage: Rec 37 Min 16 Max 37

Day 4 Abbey Roads

Time to beetle off on your bike to the county’s iconic North Norfolk coast for a day dotted with ecclesiastical ruins, coastal encounters and Palladian home and parklands number 2. The 13th century Augustinian ruins of Creake Abbey are only a pedal push from the hauntingly beautiful rural landscapes of North and South Creake – like the mighty ruins of Binham Priory near the route later in the day, they have so much to say about the scale of Henry VIII’s Reformation.

In contrast, Holkham Hall and its almost endless estate seems pristine and pillar-perfect with the superb ride across the neat parkland giving plenty of selfie-worthy views of the Palladian home of the 1st Earl of Leicester and its coastal backdrop.

It’s hard to resist the call of Holkham’s huge expanse of beach and captivating dune coast, but the historic quayside at Wells-next-the-Sea has to be the go-to spot to get a taste of what Norfolk’s coast really has to offer, from fresh fish and chips to seafood specialties. It’s a charming little town full of flint-faced cottages and hidden greens, with iconic beach huts standing of stilts on the beach to the west which can be reached by a miniature steam train ride.

Steer inland to encounter the brick-flint farmsteads and villages of the Stiffkey and Glaven river valleys, and the mighty remains of Binham Priory – an awesome edifice set adrift in the Norfolk countryside. Your final destination for the day is the Georgian market town of Holt, located at one end of North Norfolk’s most scenic steam-railway, the Poppy Line. Super stylish, full of delicious discoveries and just a short ride to the bird-rich coast, it’s a great place to stay for your next two overnights.

Overnight: Holt

Mileage: Rec 35 Min 19 Max 35

Day 5 Choice of circular routes - To the coast, take a steam train or pedal through parkland

Take your pick from our selection of great rides today, each introducing a small element of rollercoaster ride as you dive down to the sea and back up again. They also set quite different North Norfolk Coast scenes from wild, natural beauty to the ordered world of grand estates and great houses, from quaint quaysides, historic priory sites and beacon churches to parklands and piers.

Head north to discover the North North Coast’s famous tiny villages and timeless quaysides. At Morston, a spot of seal-watching is only a boat ride away, whilst at Blakeney, tiny lanes lead to the ancient port that’s still busy with craft small enough to make the passage up the narrow channel from the sea. Don’t miss its church, set apart some 100 feet above the quayside with its strange second tower and fragments of medieval glass, rescued perhaps from Binham or from its own, long-gone Carmelite priory. Return to Holt via the little village of Cley-next-the-Sea with its fine windmill and bird-rich marshland reserves.

Pedal off to Holt station for a steam train ride east to the Victorian resort of Sheringham, where Cromer is just a pedal push away or another short train hop away. They’re both fascinating seaside towns – one, once visited by Albert Einstein, the other a favourite with Sir Arthur Conan Doyle who is said to have found inspiration for his ‘Hound of the Baskervilles’ in local devil dog legend, Black Shuck. Return to Holt by bike with forays close to beautiful parklands in Sheringham and Felbrigg, home to a 17th century stately home with a walled garden.

Alternatively, take the steam train east to Sheringham and then a shorter cycle ride back to Holt, via the National Trust’s beautiful Sheringham Park, a place renowned for its amazing rhododendrons and camelias.

Overnight: Holt.

Mileage: Min 9 Max 22

Day 6 Twin peaks or double trouble?

Norfolk may be remembered as Nelson’s country, but it might seem that the first Prime Minister of England owned half of it! Set out via the villages of Mannington and Wolterton and both great houses here still have Walpole connections.

Flinted hall Mannington with its famous rose gardens is still in the family today, whereas Palladian mansion, Wolterton Hall, plays home to a room full of Walpole portraits even though it was recently sold out of the family. Wolterton’s links with Lord Nelson seem normal for Norfolk, but down the road the Blickling pyramid (a mausoleum) seems rather out of place. Look out for the two rows of double yew hedges in front of magnificent Blickling Hall and stop off to enjoy its beautiful gardens perhaps, before cycling back in time to the ‘filmset’-style redbrick estate village of Heydon.

At Cawston, the church boasts time-honoured treasures; at Booton, the double pinnacles of village folly church aka ‘the Cathedral of the Fields’ seem madness enough, but the nearby market town of Reepham goes one further, with two whole churches on the same site – and the remains of a third too! Stories tell of a shrine here, making it an important place of medieval pilgrimage.

Could the mysterious early ‘cathedral’ at final stop North Elmham have been the same perhaps? Ah, but that tale has two sides to the story too. Not so very far away in Suffolk, South Elmham also has a ruined minster. Which one was the real Saxon cathedral? Only history knows.

Overnight: North Elmham

Mileage: Rec 30 Min 16 Max 30

Day 7 Back to the Brecks via telling tales & golden wonders

There’s plenty of history and mystery in today’s small villages and flint-clad churches as you cycle gently back to Oxborough in the Brecks through the peaceful Norfolk countryside.

The fascinating Farm & Workhouse Museum of Norfolk Life at Gressenhall is the first stop of the day – unless you fancy swinging by Swanton Morley, a village with a host of impressive American connections. This was not only the ancestral home of Abraham Lincoln, but the WWII location of Robertson Barracks, where Eisenhower reputedly stood alongside Churchill to witness the launch of the first British and US combined bombing raid in 1942. The airfield’s Art Deco air traffic control tower still stands proud to this day, just like the village’s great church and windmill towers too.

Within the site of a mighty Victorian Gressenhall workhouse and featuring living history exhibits in season, the Norfolk Life Museum is a must. With its cottage gardens and rare breed animals, brightly coloured gypsy caravans and dark tales from workhouse days, it’s full of contrasts and insights into the rural farming communities and medieval textile industries which put Norfolk firmly on the European map.

The 18th century hall at Bradenham once hosted Lord Nelson and was later the birthplace of Sir Henry Rider-Haggard, friend of Rudyard Kipling and author of King Solomon’s Mines, but bold, buttressed St Mary’s also catches the eye. Now in the care of the Churches Conservation Trust, today it is sadly redundant whereas at nearby Houghton-on-the-Hill it is the village which is gone! 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.

North Pickenham’s history is unusual too. Once deemed part of Yorkshire, it has close connections with Richmond Castle dating back to medieval times. The market town of Swaffham has some fine tales to tell too. The Museum and Heritage Centre has all the details – how the Dick Whittington-style pedlar discovered that his fortune was not to be found in London after all, but in his back yard… and how a local Edwardian gent hit the jackpot in Egypt, when he discovered Tutankhamun’s tomb in the Valley of the Kings.

Steer back across the sandy Brecks (aka Valley of the Queens?) to rest up for the night and treasure all your Norfolk discoveries alongside Tudor Oxburgh Hall.

Overnight: Oxborough

Mileage: Rec 31 Min 30 Max 31

Day 8 Depart after breakfast – or go even further back in time

We’d hate you to miss out on one final unique Norfolk experience, so if you have time, rather than locking up your hire bikes and heading off home , you’re welcome to enjoy another circular cycle ride and dig a little deeper into the history of the area.

Pedal via Breckland woods and heaths to the haunting, pitted landscape known as Grimes Graves – an area of flint mines dating to Neolithic times. About a quarter of this ride is along gravel forest tracks, but that all adds to the atmosphere! Grimes Graves has a real element of the other-worldly about it and the landscape even still bears the scars of ancient glaciers.

Let the on-site museum fill you in with all the details from the history and geology to its settlers, then don a hard hat and descend by ladder into the depths of an original Neolithic flint mine yourself! The glassy grey rock dug out from this lunar-style landscape was a valuable commodity and ‘knapped’ or chipped to create sharp tools. Millions of years later, making gun flints was big business in the Brecks, with the products exported worldwide.

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 form 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

Newly renovated and very comfortable guest accommodation in a converted watermill near Fakenham (2 nights), located just a hop, skip and jump from its parent property and former coaching inn in Holt (2 nights), plus comfortable and historic countryside inns in Oxborough (2 nights) and North Elmham.

The tour is priced by start day to include any weekend supplements.

We are please to discuss details on request.

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