For this issue’s section on green laning, Mike Beddows takes us on a tour of Northern Norfolk, particularly along the Peddars Way…
Kings Lynn, Peddlar’s way, Hunstanton
34 miles – Wow Factor ★★★★★
This issue’s special takes in a great route exploring Northern Norfolk. Starting near Kings Lynn, the route heads east before forming a small loop, then heads north along the Peddars way, finally ending at the seaside town of Hunstanton.
This route is particularly good for larger style adventure bikes (bar a single trail that is documented) and in the dry could even be attempted on more road-based tyres (take care). The two enduro bikes in our group were a tad bored with the trails. They were more suited to beginners.
All the trails were ridden in the dry and will be a lot different in the wet. Most of the trails were dry/sandy and very dusty. This will no doubt change to lots of mud and slippery grass after rain. The route is 34 miles long and takes in 22 miles of trails.
Norfolk is a large country and this trail special covers just a small section in the northwest corner of Norfolk. This route is ideal for a good days ride.
Norfolk is a low-lying county in the East of England. It has borders with Lincolnshire to the west, Cambridgeshire to the west and southwest and Suffolk to the south. Its northern and eastern boundaries are the North Sea coast and to the northwest, the county is bordered by the Wash. Much of Norfolk’s fairly flat and fertile land has been drained for use as arable land.
Norfolk’s county town and only city is Norwich, one of the largest settlements in England during the Norman era. Other principal towns include the port-town of King’s Lynn and the seaside resort and Broads gateway town of Great Yarmouth. Norfolk is a popular tourist destination and has several major examples of holiday attractions.
There are many seaside resorts, including some of the finest British beaches, such as those at Great Yarmouth, Waxham, Cromer and Holkham. Norfolk contains the Broads and other areas of outstanding natural beauty and many areas of the coast are wild bird sanctuaries and reserves with some areas designated as National Parks such as the Norfolk Coast AONB.
We decided to stay at a small campsite in the grounds of a country pub called the Coach and Horses, about 4 miles southwest from Kings Lynn (so approximately 5 miles from the start of the first trail). The camping is only £5 a night per person/tent. The ground was flat and the grass a lush green and recently cut.
The pub served fantastic reasonably priced food and the landlord was friendly. It’s a great place to use as a base for touring around northern and central Norfolk. The only downside was the fast A47 was only a field away, but a pair of earplugs erased this concern when sleeping. www.coachandhorsestilney.co.uk
The Peddars Way is a long-distance footpath in Norfolk, England. It is 46 miles long and follows the route of a Roman road. It starts at Knettishall Heath in Suffolk (near the Norfolk-Suffolk border, about 4 miles east of Thetford), and it links with the Norfolk Coast Path at Holme-next-the-Sea. Combined with the Norfolk Coast Path, it forms the Peddars Way and Norfolk Coast Path National Trail, one of 15 National Trails in England and Wales, and the two paths together run for 97 miles.
1-2 Start from the B1145 just east of Kings Lynn. There is a sign for ‘Church farm’. Proceed past the farm and continue past the remains of an old church perched on the hillside to the right. This section passes through several pig fields, which is a fantastic sight if you are not from a ‘pig area’.
The trail is a sandy farm track with lots of ruts and the terrain goes up and down quite a bit making the bike bounce around. In sections, there is deep sand. Be warned in case you hit this at speed. Pass another farm off to the right, and continue to the tarmac road.
Turn right and follow the trail as it enters more fields. The route should be obvious; straight through the middle of a farmer’s field. There are several large rutty sections to get through but nothing overly difficult. There are more deep sandy sections along this section so take care. There are also plenty of grassy sections that will be slippery in the wet. The scenery is fantastic.
2-3 – Tarmac section.
3-4 This is a fairly short section that starts off easy but could have a difficult ending. According to the OS map the trail skirts to the right of the stream near the end and through the field. However, there is plenty of ‘ground’ evidence that the trail actually goes just to the right of the stream.
There are some very muddy sections with a few single bike tracks. I cannot verify if this is the correct route, or whether you should try and stay in the field and ride around the perimeter. I ended up following the bike tracks to the right of the stream. Note, this section is a 3+ due to the muddy nature. Beginners, please find an alternative route around this section.
4-5 – Tarmac section.
5-6 This is a really short section. It’s a wide sandy farm trail with a few puddles. It is extremely easy in the dry, but expect a bit harder in the wet.
6-7 – Tarmac section.
7-8 This is a nice long section. It has a bit of everything; gravel, broken tarmac, sand, mud, grass. Proceed through field after field. There are lots of trails leading in different directions, but most say private so you are forced to keep to the correct route. Do not be tempted to go exploring. Stick to the main trail. The going can be fairly fast in places but stick to the TRF/ABR code of conduct and a maximum of 20mph for safety.
8-9 – Short tarmac section.
9-10 This is a very short section and the first for riding on the Peddars Way. The trail is wide, bumpy and dusty (in the dry, will be different in the wet).
10-11 – Short tarmac section.
11-12 Continue down the Peddars Way. Again, it’s a dusty wide track that isn’t difficult. It soon leads to a grassy rutted part but this won’t trouble most riders if care is taken. There’s the standard four-wheel drive rut with single bike rut in the middle. Continue to the road.
12-13 – Tarmac section.
13-14 Turn left and proceed along a short gravel section and immediately turn left. Follow this bit of tarmac past the house on the right, and then the road will turn into trail. It goes from gravel into grassy ruts. Continue to the road.
14-15 Continue straight on and there is more grassy and muddy shallow ruts. Continue to the village of Great Massingham.
15-16 – Tarmac section.
16-17 You are now back to the Peddars Way and starting to head north. The trail is wide, compact and fast flowing. This is a very easy section.
17-18 Cross the road and continue straight on. Again, it is more of the same, very dusty and fast. There are routes going off to the left and right, but please stick to the main trail heading straight ahead. When you reach the main road if you need fuel, turn left and approximately a mile or so down is a fuel station on the left.
18-19 Short tarmac section, take care crossing the main (fast) road.
19-20 Continue on the Peddars Way. This section is long and straight and some speed can be built up. There are shallow grassy ruts but nothing to trouble anyone. This section doesn’t appear to get much use. Towards the end, there is a ‘cumuli’ on the right, which is a large mound of grassy earth to mark an old burial ground.
20-21 This short section has shallow grassy ruts. There’s a pig farm/field on the right.
21-22 This is a fairly long section and at times, it seems like you are riding in a hedgerow. The trail is great and the pace can be fast. The scenery is stunning around here. At point 22, the trail heads off to the left and right. There’s a sign stating there’s a pub and village store in Great Bircham, which is a precise 1.25 miles away, just in case you need supplies.
22-23 More of the same until the trail again splits. Feel free to explore the adjacent trails and return to this point to head north once more.
23-24 A final short section to complete this part of the trail.
24-25 This section has some deep ruts. Take care, up to this point you will no doubt have gained confidence and may be riding too fast for this section.
25-26 Cross the road and ride a short section, straight over the next road and continue. The small hamlet of Fring is off to the right. Continue on a hard compact section of gravelly ruts. The going is still easy. At the road, this is where this section of the Peddars Way ends (it does continue further north and there are plenty more sections where it can be ridden). Our route now heads off west to the sea.
26-27 Make your way to the start of the beach byway via tarmac country roads, approx. 6 miles.
27-28 This is a sandy byway at the back of a sand dune. There is lots of soft sand and the going is not easy. Bypass this if you are not feeling confident. It’s tough going on big bikes, but great fun. At the end there is a fish and chip shop on the right for a well-earned lunch stop.
28-29 The byway from here is fairly easy, and passes a caravan park and lots of holiday chalets. This issue’s route ends at the seaside town of Hunstanton.