Want to see Norfolk? Then get on your bike!
There is one thing that everybody knows about Norfolk. No, not Alan Partridge; not Bernard’s bootiful turkeys; not even Delia’s impassioned “Let’s be ’avin’ you” rant at Carrow Road. It’s that it’s very flat – which makes it the ideal place for cycling.
Go at your own pace along country roads and specialist cycling tracks and enjoy the countryside, birdsong and those big, big skies that we are also famous for. Here in Winterton, we are spoiled for choice as we have lots of opportunities to get out and use pedal-power to explore. And if you don’t want to bring your own bike, the lovely people at Sea Palling Bicycle Hire will bring bikes to your cottage and collect them again (minimum rental applies). All you need to do is grab some sandwiches and lashings of ginger beer and set off on your own Famous Five adventure.
The North Norfolk Coast Cycleway is a lovely route, which enables cyclists to follow quieter roads and lanes all the way from King’s Lynn to Great Yarmouth, so it is perfectly placed for a bit of exploring around Winterton. If you fancy doing the whole route, it’s 92 miles of quiet lanes and paths which allow lovely views of the coast and countryside, without going along the very busy coast road, which is no fun to cycle on in high summer.
If you just want to potter around for a few miles, there are some loop routes around the nearby villages. The cycleway is marked with signposts but you can download a map from here. This site will tell you all about the other cycling routes Norfolk has to offer if you fancy putting your bikes in the car and exploring further afield. Three paths - the Wherryman’s Way, Weavers’ Way and Angles Way all pass through the Broads, and there are routes suitable for both gentle potterers and hardened cyclists. You can get all the details from the website link above. You can also find some routes with start and finish points not too far from the village at The Broads by Bike.
If you’re more of an off-roader, Thetford Forest provides some fabulous trails through the largest lowland pine forest in the UK. It’s about an hour’s drive from Winterton, but when you’re there you’ll find mountain bike routes - with dips and bends and ridges for the adrenaline junkies - as well as gentle trails for families to enjoy a ride among the trees on good surfaces. It’s a safe, fun place for little ones to learn how to ride. You can hire hire bikes or take your own. Visit The Forestry Commission's website for more details. There are also waymarked walks from the same starting point.
There are also routes around the grounds of beautiful Blickling Hall (pictured) – family home of the Boleyns – where there’s a short and pleasant ride around the lake that the whole family can enjoy. It’s about an hour away and there’s the hall, the gardens and a super teashop for a restorative cuppa after your ride. Elsewhere, there are several circular trails through Bacton Woods, near North Walsham, which is just half an hour’s drive away. There are lots of details here to help choose a place to ride.
But we just like to pack a snack, get on our bikes and see where the roads take us. Could be a short pedal to a nearby beach or a nice pub, or just an opportunity to leave the car at home and work up an appetite. There is one thing you will definitely notice, though... No matter what Noel Coward had to say on the subject, Norfolk isn’t quite as flat as you think when you’re relying on pedal-power to get around.