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Norfolk & Norwich Explorer

Tour: N11
Circular Cycling Holiday
Hotel To Hotel Cycling Holiday

Big is beautiful, so here’s an invitation to cycle out and explore all of Norfolk’s best bits under one enormous sky. Watch as rugged heaths and far-reaching farmlands, haunting creeks and wild coastline, rural village gems and historic Norwich - one of England’s finest medieval cities - unfurl beneath your two wheels. Reach for your binoculars in The Broads National Park, to spot the seals at Blakeney Point or admire waterfowl and waders strutting their feathery stuff by Lord Nelson’s childhood sailing grounds on the unspoilt North Norfolk Coast. Every gentle mile of this circular tour and its choice of day rides has history at every turn, as you cycle through low-lying landscapes along small roads, quiet country lanes and some traffic-free paths. Priory ruins, silvery flint churches, Georgian marketplaces and medieval quaysides, Victorian seaside resorts and steam railways all line up along the way - as well Royal Sandringham and some of East Anglia’s favourite stately homes like Oxburgh, Holkham and Blickling Halls. Enjoy! Read More



Start Day

Weds, Thurs, Fri, Sat, Sun

Board Basis

Bed & Breakfast

Prices from



11 Days, 10 Nights


Mar - Nov

Tour Grade

Grade 3 (Moderate)

Read Overview
Home > England > Norfolk & Norwich Explorer


Explore Norfolk’s best bits on this circular cycle tour which scoops from ancient Breckland heaths past West Norfolk’s stripey cliffs and North Norfolk’s wild, sandy and birdlife-rich coast to the Norfolk Broads and fine city of Norwich. Enjoy relaxed cycling on small roads, quiet country lanes and dedicated cycle paths which link the remarkable treasures of what was once one of England’s richest counties.

Highlights also include Royal Sandringham; Lord Nelson’s homelands; the Norfolk great houses of Holkham and Blickling; Georgian Holt and Swaffham and Wymondham Abbey. Circular discovery-ride options on two days give added flexibility to tailor the tour to your own interests.

Tour Code:
Circular Cycling Holiday, Hotel To Hotel Cycling Holiday
11 Days, 10 Nights
Board Basis:
Bed & Breakfast
Mar - Nov


Day 1 Arrive & explore

You’ll have a stately home as a neighbour when you arrive at your historic coaching inn accommodation at Oxborough near Thetford Forest in ‘The Brecks’. Built in 1482 for the Bedingfield family, moated Oxburgh Hall (NT) is a stunning Tudor redbrick manor that’s full of tales of turbulent times. The Bedingfields were Catholics and staunch supporters of Mary I who saw their fate and fortunes turn with the tides (whims and religious leanings!) of England’s monarchs.

Stroll the Estate’s parkland or visit the moated manor, grounds and kitchen gardens. The house is full of secrets from a priest’s hole to the illuminated manuscripts found under the floorboards, as well as the much famed embroidery by the hand of Bess of Hardwick and Mary I herself.

Your Norfolk adventures will continue in the morning when your bikes are provided after breakfast.

Overnight: Oxborough

Day 2 Angels, acres & villages great & small

Set off to pedal across lands not just associated with Tudor and Elizabethan queens, but with the Queen Boudicca and her Iceni tribe too. Beyond the woodland and Breckland countryside dotted with farmsteads and divided by lines of pines, the medieval lantern-tower of Swaffham church is soon on the horizon. Find your wings with a coffee by the domed Regency Buttercross (or by popping your head into St Peter & St Paul’s to admire its spectacular angel roof), and don’t forget to doff your cycling cap to the Pedlar of Swaffham too – you’ll find him on the town sign and his life story in the local museum.
Beyond the beautiful walled gardens of West Acre, Castle Acre is an invitation to view England’s history in microcosm. Nestled by the River Nar, William de Warenne’s great 12th century castle earthworks are impressive enough, but as well as a tiny and almost intact medieval town and bailey-gate, you’ll soon discover one of England’s largest and best-preserved priories hiding quietly here too.

The Peddars Way (off-road path) leads northwards to Great Massingham’s mighty beacon of a church tower and more abbey connections in the shape of some intriguing little lakes – originally monastic ‘stew ponds’, but the nearby Palladian mansion might be considered catch of the day… Built by Britain’s first Prime Minister, Sir Robert Walpole, Houghton Hall is somewhere which just reels you in. And it’s not just the house either. Explore the award-winning walled gardens, or take stroll through the sculpture park which often hosts works by internationally renowned artists.

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

Overnight: In the Fakenham area

Mileage: Rec 31 Min 30 Max 39

Day 3 Royally connected countryside & coast

Enjoy a day dripping with royal connections as you head westwards to discover a resort on England’s East Coast which strangely faces west! Take a gentle pedal to royal family favourite, the Sandringham Estate, and on to Old Hunstanton to make even more right royal discoveries.

Royal Sandringham is a beautiful 600 acre country park and makes for a delightful ride, with the chance to stop off and enjoy the 1870s Jacobean-style country house built for Edward VII. At Christmas, the Royal Family love staying here and each year, the Rhododendrons and Camelias can be an absolute dream! With walks and rock gardens, roses and manicured lawns, the gardens a relaxing treat, whilst the house add museum are packed with more than enough royal memorabilia to while away a whole day away!

Weave your way north to spot the fine 14th century church at Snettisham, the site of ancient settlements and treasure hoards dating back to the Iron Age, and make tracks along time-honoured paths towards the coast, along the Peddars Way via Sedgeford and Ringstead.

Destination for the day is Hunstanton, where seaside family fun rubs shoulders not only with stripey red-and-white cliffs and a great green edged with brown Carstone buildings, but with some right royal moments of East Anglian history too. Hunt down the Hunstanton cliff-top spot where future King of East Anglia, Edmund, landed in 855. A chapel once stood on this site and on a clear day, you may even glimpse Boston’s beacon church tower (aka ‘The Boston Stump’) across the waters of The Wash.

Overnight: Old Hunstanton

Mileage: Rec 32 Min 24 Max 38

Day 4 Navigating Lord Nelson’s homelands

Set out for a day full of coastal connections where you’ll want to have the binoculars to hand in the top of the panniers. There’s time get another glimpse of Edmund’s wolf, or of Boston’s famous ‘Stump’ across The Wash before following a relaxed inland route and diving down to Brancaster Bay on the North Norfolk coast. Here, the haunting creeks around Thornham and RSPB Titchwell Marshes will certainly have you reaching for the binoculars again. It’s not only birdwatching heaven, but there’s something both special and timeless about the creeks around Brancaster and Burnham Overy Staithe. These were Lord Nelson’s childhood sailing grounds and are still a firm favourite with families and novice mariners to this day.

Born at Burnham Thorpe parsonage in in 1758, Lord Nelson has brought fame and fortune to ‘The Burhams’, with Burnham Market now attracting such a fashionable following that it’s home to smart galleries and eateries and often nicknamed ‘Chelsea-on-Sea’.
But it’s not only Nelson’s homelands which are the attraction here. Point those handlebars eastwards and you’ll soon find yourself pedalling through the mighty Holkham Estate, across parkland, past obelisks, vintage oaks and the Palladian-style mansion and pièce de résistance, Holkham Hall. With its coastal backdrop, fine fountains and manicured lawns, the Earl of Leicester’s beautifully kept estate makes for some of Norfolk’s most scenic cycling – and best cycling selfie opportunities! It also couldn’t be more of a contrast with where you spin off to next.

Just a short freewheel away lies the beautifully wild expanse of Holkham Bay – a sandy beach with a back drop of dunes on the grandest of scales, and just one amazing section of the designated Norfolk Coast National Landscape.

Time to hug the coast then, passing sandy stretches and pines to the beach huts on stilts at Wells-next-the-Sea. It’s a timeless family favourite without any resort razzmatazz on the horizon and just a pedal push (or miniature steam train ride) to the quaint quayside village of Wells-next-the-Sea and your accommodation.

Full of character with boats bobbing on the water and tiny lanes leading to hidden greens, not to mention great places for fresh fish and chips or Norfolk seafood treats, Wells is one of North Norfolk’s must-stay spots. Enjoy.

Overnight: Wells-next-the-Sea

Mileage: Rec 25 Min 20 Max 25

Day 5 Abbey roads & pilgrim paths

Steering inland, it’s time to head ‘up creek’ to seek out the 13th century remains of Creake Abbey (and its inviting coffee shop too perhaps!), before heading east to one of the Norfolk countryside’s most unexpected wonders and stopping off at ‘pilgrims’ rest’, the treasure church of Houghton St Giles on the outskirts of Little Walsingham.

Walsingham was the site of visions of the Virgin Mary and associated miracles and in medieval times, it even rivalled Canterbury as one of the most important pilgrimage sites in medieval Europe. Still home to a significant shrine and place of religious pilgrimage today, it is a timeless spot where even the railway station has been made into a chapel! Only ruins of mighty Walsingham Abbey remain, but set in beautifully tranquil parkland, they are well worth the visit – so too the gentle trackbed walk to the holy ‘Slipper Chapel’.

Back on two wheels, pedal off via the brick-flint farmsteads and villages of the Stiffkey river valley to encounter some more mighty remains truly set adrift this time within the Norfolk countryside. Today Binham’s great priory ruins and wonderfully restored Priory Church of St Mary and the Holy Cross are an awesome sight in the rural landscape, but little has surely changed here over the centuries. A visit to the vast church is a must, not only to experience the sense of scale, but to see history revealed layer by layer within its fascinating rood screen.

The day finishes with a rural ride across to the Glaven river valley to swing south to the super-stylish Georgian town of Holt. Home to galleries, independent shops and fine eateries, as well as one end of the North Norfolk coast’s famous ‘Poppy Line’ steam railway, it’s a great little place for your next two overnights with so much to explore on its doorstep.

Overnight: Holt

Mileage: Rec 24 Min 15  Max 24

Day 6 Circular route options

Choose from our selection of great routes today, each including a bit of a gentle rollercoaster ride as you dive down to the sea and back up again. They also introduce quite different North Norfolk Coast scenes from wild, natural beauty to the ordered world of grand estates, historic quaysides and towering churches to rhododendron-filled parks and colourful seaside piers.

Head north to explore coastal villages and quays beyond Binham’s great priory ruins. Jump onboard at Morston for a seal-watching trip to Blakeney Point or cycle down Blakeney’s narrow lanes to watch the boats in its tiny ancient port. Don’t miss the impressive church, towering high above the quayside, a marker to mariners for centuries and reminder of wealthy trading times past and be sure to go inside, to view the medieval glass, possibly rescued from Binham or Blakeney’s own, long-gone Carmelite priory. Head finally to Cley-next-the-Sea with its iconic windmill and bird-rich marshland reserves, before climbing back up to Holt via Kelling Heath.

Love seafood? Then a trip to Cromer, famed for its crab suppers is a must! Pedal off to Holt station for a steam train ride east to the Victorian resorts of elegant Sheringham and cycle via Beeston Regis to land of pier and proms, Cromer. This delightful day ride starts and finishes with forays close to beautiful parklands at Sheringham and at Felbrigg, where a fine stately home and walled garden also warrant a visit. Just pedaling to Holt station and letting the steam train transport you for a day out in Sheringham and walk to Cromer is also a great day out.

Alternatively, take the steam train east from Holt to the resort of Sheringham, before mopping up a cluster of estate villages and impressive stately piles inland at Robert Walpole’s Wolterton and Anne Boleyn’s ancestral homelands at Blickling. Norfolk market town classics, Aylsham and curious Cawston with its ‘duel stone’ and must-see medieval church are further highlights on the route back to Holt.

Pedal out west to Binham priory with its impressively restored Priory Church of St Mary and the Holy Cross to see history revealed layer by layer within its fascinating rood screen. Cycle to Little Walsingham where visions and miracles turned a little Norfolk town into one of the most important pilgrimage sites in medieval Europe, alongside Canterbury. It is still a significant place of religious pilgrimage today. Take a walk by the abbey ruins through beautiful informal gardens;  explore the eccentric town where even the railway station is now a chapel, or walk to the ‘Slipper Chapel’ along an old railway trackbed. Return to the Georgian town of Holt along Norfolk’s quiet country lanes and sleepy villages like Great Snoring.

Overnight:  Holt.

Mileage: Min 19 Max 34

Day 7 Exploring great estates & getting on track for the Norfolk Broads

Time to head for one of England’s newest National Parks – The Norfolk Broads. It’s a unique watery landscape, where the natural-looking, shallow lakes and waterways were actually created by man – peat diggers, sourcing fuel for their medieval homes. Today you can choose your route to your next accommodation to include time on the water, a nostalgic railway ride or numerous country estates depending on your interests and energy levels.

Enjoy a gentle day cycling from Holt to Hoveton for a boat trip on the Broads from the busy little nearby waterside town of Wroxham. Later you can choose to travel in style on Norfolk’s longest narrow gauge railway (with your bike) from Hoveton to Aylsham, or pedal along the dedicated traffic-free trackside cycle path (max mileage route).

Alternatively, a pedal out eastwards from Holt reveals the creepy shell of 15th century moated manor, Baconsthorpe Castle before cycling by the grand estates of Barningham Park, Mannington and Wolterton. Norfolk may be Nelson’s county, but Robert Walpole, England’s first Prime Minister, has certainly left his stamp on it!  Flinted Mannington Hall still belongs to the Walpole family today, but they sold off their Palladian pile, Wolterton Hall recently. But the real stately home show-stopper is the beautiful lakeside Jacobean mansion, Blickling Hall. The National Trust’s flagship property in East Anglia, this was home to the Bullen family whose daughter, Anne ‘Frenchified’ her surname to fit in at court and ended up marrying Henry VIII.

Overnight: In the Aylsham area

Mileage: Rec 25 Min 13 Max 34

Day 8 Discover the Norfolk Broads - Choice of circular rides

The Norfolk Broads is strongly associated with boating holidays, but the cycling here is so superbly scenic and the options to add railway rides and ferry crossing so enticing, that chances are you’ll be asking the Cycle Breaks team if a third night in Aylsham is an option!

Whether you’re into nature, Norfolk’s medieval wool trade and weaving history, enjoy being by the water and watching the boats or discovering an extra stunning section of the Norfolk coastline, there’s a day ride here for you.

Enjoy some gentle off-road cycling along the Weavers Way to the characterful market town of North Walsham, where Nelson went to school and medieval Flemish weavers left their mark. Look out for cottages with Dutch-style gables and wonder at the one of the largest parish churches in England built on the wealth of ‘Walsham’ summer cloth which complemented ‘Worsted’ heavy winter cloth woven nearby. Weave your way through the countryside, the length of the Dilham Canal before winging back round to discover fine medieval treasures in St Michael’s at Swanton Abbotts before following the Bure Valley Railway cycle path (or giving you bike a break on the train) back to Aylsham.

Alternatively, explore the coast beyond North Walsham on a ride all the way to Happisburgh (Haz-bruh) to view its unusual red and white striped lighthouse – East Anglia’s oldest and Great Britain’s only independent working light. The church tower here is a great beacon too – second only in size to that of St Peter & St Paul Cromer. Visit the village then cally by East Ruston’s Old Vicarage Gardens – a favourite refuelling stop – to see beacon tower and lighthouse, courtesy of the garden’s beautifully designed vistas. Dive off on a detour if you wish, to market town Stalham and Stalham Staithe for the Museum of the Broads, before returning via Swanton Abbotts and the railway path to Aylsham.

Get a real taste for the Norfolk Broads on a ‘figure of eight’ route which takes you right to its watery heart – and includes a brewery known for aptly named local ales like ‘Wherry’ and ‘Nelson’s Blood’. Take your bike on Norfolk’s longest narrow gauge railway to Hoveton, then cycle to the busy boating haven of Wroxham.

Round Wroxham Broad, the charming estate village of Woodbastwick awaits with its thatched church, well house on the green and much-loved brewery tap. Take a foot / bike ferry across the waterway and it’s well worth the quick whizz down and back to visit Ranworth whose church has a fine medieval rood screen and, literally above all, an accessible tower offering one of the best views of the Broads. Finally cycle through the Bure Marshes National Nature Reserve to bustling Horning on the north bank of the River Bure on the route back to Hoveton for a pedal along the traffic-free and railway track-hugging cycle path  – or a train-ride if you prefer- back to Aylsham .

Overnight: In the Aylsham area

Mileage: Min 23 Max 39

Day 9 On track again – this time for the fine city of Norwich

Start the day with traffic-free cycling along peaceful and secluded parts of an old railway line track-bed path, The Marriots Way, before encountering the impressive loneliness of Salle’s huge church stranded in the Norfolk countryside. Next up, Georgian market town Reepham has a history as a medieval pilgrimage site and clocks up not just two whole churches on the same site, but the remains of a third too!

Destination of the day, Norwich however allegedly once had a church for every Sunday… and a pub for every day of the year. There are still a great crop of both to explore, including medieval church, rambling inn and merchant house survivals sitting alongside all the modern day razzmatazz of a vibrant city full of big name stores and excellent arts offerings.

A visit to the 900 year old cathedral is must and there are great walks through the precincts alongside the River Wensum. Dragon Hall, Strangers Hall and the old Bridewell are fine buildings and museums too, but to top it all, the imposing Norman castle right at the heart of the city boasts fascinating galleries full of everything from archaeology to fine art and the much-loved Twinings teapot collection.

Overnight: Norwich.

Mileage: Rec: 23 Min 23 Max 24

Day 10 Golden treasures, cathedral connections & links with America

Pedal southwest from Norwich to Swardeston, birthplace of Edith Cavell, the WWI nurse celebrated for caring for soldiers without discrimination and helping over 200 allied forces escape from occupied Belgium. Remembered in sculpture outside Norwich Cathedral, here in St Mary’s you’ll find her in stained glass. Across the high ground above the River Tas, it’s not long before the mighty twin-towered abbey church of market town Wymondham comes into view.

This historic hub has many half-timbered buildings to its name, including a fine octagonal market cross, but it’s the great ‘abbey’ – originally a Benedictine priory founded in 1007 – which steals the architectural show. Built from Caen stone (just like Norwich Cathedral!) as well as local flint, it’s über-impressive on the outside and opulent and breathtaking on the inside. The golden 20th century altar screen and medieval angel roof are both truly magnificent.

Back on the Norfolk country lanes, it’s time to head north, clock up a fine collection of sparse farmsteads, stand-alone churches and little villages as you take the gentle ups with the downs of the river valleys. With its population decimated by the Black Death, the area around the geographical centre of Norfolk at Mattishall owes much to the late medieval period and from that time there are some outstanding survivors. North Tuddenham church is one of them, towering tall and complete with a fine rood screen full of saints painted just before the Reformation. But this area was touched by later disasters too, as the wartime memorial in St Mary’s North Tuddenham to eight locally based American servicemen reveals.

Just along the lane, the village of Swanton Morley has a fine crop of American connections. Most notably the ancestral home of Abraham Lincoln, wartime President Eisenhower also came here on a visit to Robertson Barracks in 1942, where he reputedly stood alongside Churchill to witness the launch of the first British and US combined bombing raid. 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.

Finish up the day by wending your way in the company of the River Wensum to North Elmham, home to a fine treasure church with medieval rood screen, a mysterious ruined minster and your final night’s accommodation.

Overnight: North Elmham.

Rec 31 Min 29 Max 31

Day 11 Homeward bound – via winding ways & wonder-full treasures

Enjoy a final day of gentle cycling as you head back to Oxborough and off home – or perhaps you’d prefer to tour the day away then stay an extra night? Whatever you choose, there’ll be a myriad more Norfolk discoveries as you cycle through gentle countryside to the Brecks.

The Farm & Workhouse Museum of Norfolk Life at Gressenhall seems a fitting first stop – time to combine your Norfolk experiences with background insights and artefacts around the history of Norfolk’s rural farming communities and the medieval textile industries over the centuries which put the county firmly on the European map. A living museum set in and around a mighty Victorian workhouse, expect cottages and their gardens, rare breed farm animals, hands-on demonstrations and interactive sessions (in season).

Beyond market town Dereham, little lanes lead towards Bradenham, the home of a bold, buttressed, but sadly redundant church of St Mary’s, now in the care of the Churches Conservation Trust. You’ll find the lost village of Houghton-on-the-Hill by its church too – a precious (Grade I listed) survivor with early wall-painting treasures (from 1090 and 1400s) which pay homage to the one-time wealth and importance of the village.

A pedal push or two miles further and North Pickenham also has an unusual history. Home USAAF airmen and B-24 Liberator bombers during WWII airfield, it was weirdly part of Yorkshire(!) in medieval times, having connections with Richmond Castle.
Market town Swaffham may already be a familiar stop, but perhaps you’ll view the church’s angel roof differently after all your Norfolk travels? It’s worth heading to the heritage centre too – with all the golden treasures you’ve discovered, you’ll have quite something in common with local Edwardian gent Howard Carter … although he had to travel to Egypt to find his in the Valley of the Kings!

Finally turn your handlebars back across the land of queens, ancient and Tudor, to Oxborough to return your bikes and reclaim your luggage near moated Oxburgh Hall.

Mileage: Min 29 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 cost of getting to and from the start point

Accommodation Options

Two 4 star hotels plus a selection of former coaching inns and other very comfortable accommodation, including a converted watermill – located in Oxborough, near Fakenham, Old Hunstanton, Wells-next-the Sea, Holt (2 nights), near Aylsham (2 nights), Norwich and North Elmham.

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

We are pleased to discuss details on request.

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