Try these 11 great cycle routes around Norfolk and north Suffolk

Cycling has become more popular than ever since Covid-19 lockdowns

Cycling has become more popular than ever since Covid-19 lockdowns - Credit: Getty Images/Cultura RF

It's Bike Week, so what are the most popular routes to try around Norfolk and north Suffolk? Here are 11 suggestions. 

If you want to combine your ride with a pub or restaurant visit, it is often advisable to reserve your table in advance, due to current limits on numbers.

Cycle to the Wash, King's Lynn to Snettisham

Part of the Sustrans National Cycle Network, this 12.5-mile route includes some sections on quiet and traffic-free roads.

Set out from King's Lynn railway station and head for historic Castle Rising, where you can stop off to admire the stunning 12th-century castle.

Next stop is the Royal estate of Sandringham, where you can visit the park and enjoy local Norfolk produce from the terrace takeaway cafe.  If you want to visit the house and gardens, though, or enjoy an afternoon tea, you will need to pre-book.

The route continues to the coast at Shepherd’s Port and RSPB Snettisham, with impressive views across the salt marshes and mudflats which make up the Wash.

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For a shorter, circular ride, turn back at Castle Rising. This will make the total distance around 12 miles.

See the Sustrans site for more details.

 cycle ride dunwich to minsmere

A picture taken on a cycle ride from Dunwich to Minsmere - Credit: Graeme Crissell/iWitness

Dunwich and Minsmere

This 13-mile circular route is the perfect way to explore the Suffolk Coast and Heaths Area of Natural Beauty. Set out from Dunwich Beach car park through Dunwich Forest, and the attractive village of Westleton with its thatched church.

The estimated time is three hours, although this will be longer if you take an optional detour through Walberswick.

The route then takes you past the famous RSPB Minsmere reserve. There is an admission charge for non-RSPB members if you want to stop and admire the wildlife, including a large colony of avocets and many other birds, from the Bittern to the Marsh harrier.

After visiting the National Trust's Dunwich Heath visitor centre, your return route will take you past the ruins of Greyfriars Priory, a historic monument which is free to visit, and is one of Dunwich's many reminders of its unique history as a lost city. 

It is free to park in Dunwich Beach Car Park. Ifyou are looking for refreshments, the nearby Flora Tearooms beach cafe is famous for its fish and chips, or try a cake at the National Trust cafe at Dunwich Heath. Well-known local foodie pubs include The Ship at Dunwich and The Westleton Crown.  

For more details, visit the Suffolk Coast and Heaths website.   

The Norfolk Coast Path and the Peddars Way meet at the beach at Holme-next-the-Sea

The Norfolk Coast Path and the Peddars Way meet at the beach at Holme-next-the-Sea - Credit: Denise Bradley/Archant

 King's Lynn to Cromer and Great Yarmouth

This route, using quiet lanes, is part of the Norfolk Coast Cycleway..

The 92-mile network of quiet lanes was established in 1998 to avoid cyclists using the dangerous A149 coast road.

The cycleway runs parallel to the coast from King's Lynn to Great Yarmouth and offers cyclists great views of the coastline and Norfolk countryside throughout their ride.

For more details of the various loops along the route, including the 24-mile Cromer loop, visit the website. 

Great Yarmouth

If you are looking for cycling ideas on the Norfolk coast, Great Yarmouth Borough Council has produced a map with seven different routes around the area, mostly run on roads and dedicated cycleways.

They include a seven-mile historic churches route, taking you past the four historic churches of West Somerton, Winterton, Hemsby and Martham.

There is also a 12-mile Big Cycle route, which will offer the chance to see beaches in Great Yarmouth, Caister, California, Scratby, Hemsby and Winterton.

To download a map of all the routes, visit the Great Yarmouth Borough Council website.

The Broads

The Broads Trust has come up with a choice of 16 different "Broads by Bike" circular routes around the Broads National Park.

This includes nine exploring the northern Broads area, ranging from Wroxham, Ranworth and South Walsham to Neatishead, Barton Turf and Dilham.

There are also several routes exploring the southern Broads around the Waveney valley, taking in Bungay and Beccles in Suffolk.

Rail links are available via stations at Hoveton, Acle, Salhouse, Worstead, Beccles and Reedham. 

You can download free maps for these routes (although a small donation to the Broads Trust is requested).

Historic churches and wind pumps are among the sights you will see on your travels,  and the many places to enjoy refreshments include the Wroxham Waterside Terrace or the many other cafes in Wroxham and Hoveton.

For more details, visit the Broads by Bike website. 

The Miller's Trail, Ixworth, near Bury St Edmunds

This 23-mile route, starting from the West Suffolk village of Ixworth, goes through an agricultural area where you can see local wind and watermills, as its name suggests.

As well as mills at Bardwell, Stanton and Pakenham, the trail also takes in a number of attractive villages including Walsham le Willows and Stowlangtoft. 

Start off from Ixworth library/village hall car park and ride through Bardwell  and  Barningham, then through Market Weston and Wattisfield  to Walsham le Willows and Stanton, before coming to Wyken Hall Vineyard with its gardens, restaurant and country store - an ideal place to stop for refreshments.

Alternatively, for a shorter 12-mile route, you can take a short cut along an unclassified road east from Bardwell to Wyken Hall, before cycling through Stowlangtoft and  Pakenham back to Ixworth.

See the map and full route details here. 

One of many good reasons to ride at sunrise.

One of many good reasons to ride at sunrise. - Credit:

Peddars Way, Thetford to Holme-next-the-Sea

As well as exploring Thetford Forest, you can use Thetford as the starting-point for a much longer ride. 

The Peddars Way cycle route, which is part of the Sustrans cycle network,  covers 46 miles from Thetford Railway Station to Holme-next-the-Sea, travelling on tracks and lanes, and taking in wildlife havens such as Knettishall Heath.

Although you can cycle most of this route, there are four sections which are footpath only, where you will need to wheel your bike.

For more details, visit the website. 

Off-road cycling

Thetford Forest

Choose from three trails starting from Thetford Forest High Lodge Visitor Centre, enjoying the unique atmosphere of the forest. Cycle hire is possible but needs to be booked in advance.

The five-mile Shepherd Trail is relatively flat and suitable for most types of bike, with its terrain including a mix of gravel forest roads, tracks and trails. There is the option of a 3.5 mile short cut, ideal if you are riding with children,.

The other trails are the Beater Trail, with two alternative routes, covering six or 11 miles, and the single-track 10-mile Lime Burner trail, both for more experienced off-road cyclists. At the other end of the scale, there is also a Pump Track where children can improve their riding skills.

There are charges at the main forest car park and it is advisable to book and pre-pay, due to limited space.  The cafe at High Lodge is currently offering takeaway only. There are also picnic tables.

Visit the Forestry England website for more details. 

Marriotts Way cycle and footpath

Marriotts Way cycle and footpath - Credit: Michael Hawes/iWitness.

Marriott's Way, Norwich to Aylsham

This 26-mile off-road trail follows the route of two disused railway lines, running between Norwich and Aylsham, via the villages of Drayton, Lenwade, Cawston and Reepham.

If you start from Norwich, the route begins at the roundabout at Barn Road and Barker Street on the inner ring road, while, if you start from Aylsham, the entrance is on Norwich Road, opposite the Bure Valley Railway station. If you prefer to do just part of the route rather than the whole thing, it's possible to choose a shorter loop.

The route is named after William Marriott, who was the chief engineer and manager of the Midland and Great Northern Railway. 

You are likely to see a rich variety of birds, animals and plants along your way, from owls and hares to deer and even otters.

There are a number of car parks in the villages along the way, as well as car parks in Norwich and Aylsham.

There is a whole website devoted to Marriott's Way, including a free guidebook.

A cyclist on the upgraded section of Norwich's Marriott's Way between Gunton Lane and Hellesdon Road

A cyclist on the upgraded section of Norwich's Marriott's Way between Gunton Lane and Hellesdon Road. - Credit: Norfolk County Council

Bure Valley Way, Aylsham to Wroxham

A ride along all or part of Marriott's Way can easily be combined with a ride along the nine-mile Bure Valley Way, alongside the narrow-gauge railway .

You will go through the pretty villages of Brampton, Buxton and Coltishall along the way.

You can normally ride in one direction and take the train back, paying a maximum of £3.50 for your cycle to be carried, subject to space.

There is parking at both Aylsham and Wroxham stations, for railway customers only, and takeaway refreshments are available from the two stations when trains are running.

See the railway website for details.

Holkham Hall

There are a number of scenic routes on traffic-calmed lanes and tracks through Holkham Park which are great for family cycling, ranging from two-and-a-quarter to six miles.

There will be light traffic, so it isn't a case of riding completely off-road. You can hire bikes for the whole family, including electric bikes which are new for 2021, but pre-booking a bike isn't possible.

You are free to take cycles hired from Holkham beyond the estate grounds, and if you are looking for a  longer ride, you can go on a 10-mile loop through the parkland and out to Wells- next-the-Sea.

It's also possible to start your route from Wells, where there are a number of other bike hire options. Go north along Beach Road, and join the Norfolk Coast Path behind the pinewoods, before heading into Holkham Park. You will see the deer park and the stately home before joining a public road to go across the B1105 and back to Wells.

For more details visit the Holkham website.