Trail running: Four of the best routes to run in North Norfolk
With the weather beginning to improve, perhaps it's time to hit the trails. Trail runner Carmine De Grandis features his favourite running routes in North Norfolk
Whether you are a top trail runner or more of a “trails lover” who enjoys spending time in nature, North Norfolk has lots to offer.
I started running years ago because I needed time to find myself and to satisfy a deep desire to experience the beauty and the power of nature.
After a stint of road running and chasing times, I found my home within a community of runners who have in common a deep desire to “hit the trails and get muddy” regularly.
Those who know me realise that I long to be in the mountains and regularly take trips to run, race or explore Wales, Northern England, Scotland or the Alps. However, I live in North Norfolk and I can confidently say that some of my favourite routes and landscapes are very close to where I live.
I would like to share with all Run Anglia readers and friends some of my favourite routes and locations to go out and have fun on some unspoilt beautiful trails.
Sheringham Park and Sheringham parkrun (5km+)
(Sheringham Park National Trust, Upper Sheringham, Norfolk, NR26 8TL)
Map grid reference: TG133416
North Norfolk has many National Trust properties and parks. One of these is Sheringham Park, a landscaped park and gardens near the town of Sheringham. The park surrounds Sheringham Hall and has a grid reference of TG133416.
The park includes more than 1,000 acres to explore. I fell in love with the park because of the introduction of one of the hardest parkrun courses in the whole of the UK. The hilly, mixed trail, hard packed course comprises one single loop and has stunning views from beginning to end – though you may need to go around a couple of times and in several seasons to really feel you have made the most of the park and its surroundings.
While the parkrun course is well marked, trail explorers will certainly go for more than 5km as they will try a great deal of paths leading to amazing locations such as several high viewing points, including The “Gazebo”: Mildred’s watch tower in Oak Wood. Of course, there is always plenty of parking and a good coffee shop open at weekends.
Roman Camp, Beacon Hill, West Runton and Beeston Regis Woodland and Heath (10km+)
Map grid reference: TG183414
A gem of the Norfolk Coastal trails is hidden in the woodland and heath around West Runton and Beeston Regis.
This is also the location which the Norfolk Trail Runners call “home”. With incredible views, a great deal of technical, hilly or fast woodland trails, I go to Roman Camp as often as two to three times every week and do not need to run along the same paths. This is also a superb location for running with your dog(s) and a fantastic place to watch some of our local wildlife. I often split my 10km run into two sections. One is very hilly and can involve up to 400 metres of elevation within 5km. This section takes on the many inclines towards West Runton, Beeston and Sheringham. The second section follows flatter, faster and beautiful woodland paths on the Aylmerton side of the area. This mostly follows the trails along the boundaries of the plantation.
Try running this section at night and your headtorch will spot the deer which inhabit the woods. Of course, you can also take in stunning views over the sea or the open fields on most days. You will find that it is easy to park and you are never too far from a good pub.
Blickling Park to Aldborough village, circular route (21/22 km+)
Map grid reference: T18343421
Another incredible location to visit during a nice long trail run is Blickling Hall and Estate, located north of the market town of Aylsham. The estate and Hall are very impressive and include 4,500 acres, of which 1,000 acres is woodland and park. I like to start this run from the village of Aldborough (TG 1834 3421). I use the footpaths leading to Wolterton Hall and then follow a beautiful wooded walk, crossing the River Bure twice. If you like you can stop for a coffee halfway through your run at the Blickling Park coffee shop or even rehydrate at the Buckingham Arms before continuing along the lake and along Weaver’s Way which will take you to the village of Erpingham and then over Alby hill back to the idyllic village of Aldborough.
The Black Boys Pub is a good place to eat or celebrate your trail run. If you like to keep your trail shoes clean, this run may not be one for you! But if you are a British trail runner, you certainly will not mind a bit of quality mud.
The “Poppyline” trail run (42km+)
Map grid reference: TG 15430 43478
One of my favourite longer trail runs follows the route of the classic “Poppyline” walk.
The Long Distance Walkers Association organises this every year in June, a walking/running event which offers a lovely route with sea views, undulating countryside and the fine old parkland landscapes of North Norfolk.
I like running this route at least once or twice every year as it is stunning in all seasons. The route starts in the seaside town of Sheringham. It will take you over Beeston Bump following the Norfolk Coastal Path towards Cromer. You will head inland and follow Weaver’s Way through Felbrigg Estate. From the estate you will follow lovely trails which go through several typical Norfolk villages and to the amazing site of Baconsthorpe Castle, a moated and fortified 15th century manor house.
Following open countryside you will arrive at the incredible Holt Country Park and the market town of Holt. From here you will go through Kelling Heath and Sheringham Park to get back onto the Norfolk Coastal park. To get back to your car and claim your completed trail marathon you will need to contend with one last obstacle, Skelding Hill. As a reward you can treat yourself to the superb Ronaldo’s ice cream or a lovely portion of fish and chips whilst you admire the views. Sheringham can be reached by train, bus or car and offers plenty of parking. I always like to start my run by Sheringham’s boating lake (TG 15430 43478).
I hope that these awesome Norfolk trails and tracks have whet your appetite for more trail running adventures and discovering our beautiful Norfolk paths wherever they may be.
You are also welcome to join me on any of the Norfolk Trail Runners Wednesday or Sunday group runs.
You can find more about us on our Facebook Page or by joining our Facebook Group. Love Running, Love Trails! #Runderlust #NorfolkTrailRunners #Runanywhere