The Rebellion Way – April 2024

A 5 day and 225 mile cycling adventure in Norfolk following ancient sites from the Iron Age onwards, on and off road !

Wednesday 11th April – Thetford to Kings Lynn – 54 miles 

Tom and I had met up with Sheila and Kath at Brandon just outside Thetford the night before staying at the Bridge Hotel, a “bike-friendly” hotel where we could store our bikes safely overnight. After a large breakfast we set off at 0845 for the first leg of the Rebellion Way which started going through Thetford forest on lanes and fire roads via the Desert Rats memorial area and Lynford  Arboretum and on to the beautiful National Trust house Oxborough Hall for coffee – then through the lovely flat Breckland to Swaffham for lunch in the sunshine – temperature now reaching 20 degrees! Not long after we passed through Castle Acre and past the old priory – the last stage was on rough tracks and sandy lanes which involved some pushing! Then into King’s Lynn on great cycle paths to our B&B at the Old Vicarage and out to supper at the Harbour – a fab pub but beer more expensive than the one in Brandon where beer was £3 a pint , the highlight of the holiday!

Friday 12th April – King’s Lynn to Well- next – the -sea- 47 miles – Sheila’s Birthday!

Set off after great night’s sleep in the cosy Vicarage at 0840 leaving the town  on Cycle Route 1 via another ancient village Castle Rising to enter the Sandringham Estate and to the nice café at the house for coffee- so lovely to ride on deserted , flat and immaculate country roads ! We didn’t go into the house but visited the church used by the Royal Family which was beautiful,  built from local flint and typical of the area. From there the route passed Snettisham, Sedgewood of Norfolk lavender fame, and hit the north west coast at Heacham by the Wash estuary. Going up the coast we went through Hunstanton a busy holiday resort ,especially as it was school holidays, to head back inland and we found a really pretty, quiet  village at Ringstead to buy lunch from the shop and eat it  on the green – then the highlight of the day was the lovely, undulating ride to Holkham where we entered the grounds of the estate and descended down a long avenue to Holkham Hall and estate – the most spectacular house of the whole route . We went through the gap and on to the viewing point overlooking the huge, horseshoe bay which is a nature reserve and naturalist’s paradise – The last few miles followed the coast still on Cycle Route 1 , into Wells , a really pretty port and Norfolk’s equivalent to St Ives!  We were booked in to The Globe Hotel Annex where we had pre-dinner drinks in the courtyard garden in the sunshine to celebrate Sheila’s birthday and then to the hotel for a delicious dinner. A second lovely sunny day and beautiful ride.

Saturday 13th April – Wells Next The Sea to Cromer- 46 miles and 2063 feet – the most hilly day !

Set off 9am on off-road tracks in the sunshine to our  first stop at Walsingham- a picture-perfect village with the beautiful old chapel and Shrine of Our Lady – it had a quiet ambience with many church services going on and pilgrims visiting the shrine and the Slipper Chapel further on from the village . The Route then meandered on pretty country roads to the bustling , trendy , Georgian town of Holt – Here  we’d arranged to meet Keith and Terri for lunch ( friends and ex – Falmouth Wheelers who relocated to Norfolk 3 years ago ) who had cycled from Cromer to meet us. It was lovely to see them and they rode back with us via Sherringham National Trust park – through the fishing village by the coast and a climb up through woodland to a high viewpoint (pushing our bikes again) and on to Cromer where we were staying the night in a  caravan in a lady’s back garden which was a great find by Kath – very cheap and cosy – We had a cuppa there and showered, then went into Cromer for a beer and fish and chips in the sit-in café next door to the pub! Another great day and the sunshine continuing. Cromer was 5 miles from the official route which went south from Sherringham but we thought it was worth a detour to see the resort!

Sunday 14th April – Cromer to Norwich – 46 miles

After porridge and croissants for our DIY  breakfast we left early at 0830 on a bright but chilly morning- sone off road trails then pretty lanes via Aldborough and on to  the National Trust Estate  of Blickling Hall for coffee and a quick look at the beautiful gardens ( Anne Boleyn was born there ) – then past Aylesham to join the Bure Valley Railway cycle path for about 6 miles alongside the track which is used by a miniature steam train which passed us near Wroxham where we turned off into the Norfolk Broads and waterways –  we were on pretty lanes that were beautiful in the afternoon sunshine, and  found an idyllic Country Pub to “refuel” in the Beer Garden!  The last 12 miles joined onto the extensive cycle lanes that lead into Norwich where we were staying at the Premier Inn by the river and the old part of the city near the Cathedral so a prime location which for £27 a night was a bargain especially with the Meal Deal! I’d arranged to meet up with an old friend from my Ipswich flat- days and we all had a nice drink in a riverside pub before supper at the Inn.

Monday 15th April – our last day – 53 miles back to Brandon

We had decided to leave early today as the weather forecast wasn’t good with very strong winds and hail storms forecast late morning! The plan was to get to Long Stratton 18 miles away and make a decision from there whether  to bypass Diss, the last main town on the way home –  the decision was made for us as just before there we were caught in a mini tornado with horizontal sleet and were soaked to the skin and frozen in a space of 10 minutes – and the nearest village was still several miles away!  As we were checking the route as we were slightly lost at a junction that took us across a boggy common a lady, Emily, came out of the house on the corner to show us the way – we must have looked in dire straits as she took pity on us and invited us into her lovely 16th century home – Le Grys Barn-  and gave us coffee and biscuits and let us stay until we’d thawed out a bit – such a wonderful act of kindness. From there we got soaked again as we continued on to  the village where the only place open on a Monday was a fish and chip bar, but  again a welcome stop as it was a chance to warm up as by this time I had moderate to severe hypothermia! Luckily the next ten miles were dry and the sun came out as we  took quiet minor roads into Thetford and found a charming Coffee Shop to have a welcome cuppa!  We decided to complete the last 10 miles back to Brandon going through the forest tracks and backroads, all nice and flat and sunny as we hit Brandon and our same Hotel to check in and have a shower and out to the Flintswreckers Pub for a £3  pint to celebrate followed by our last-night’s supper in a local Bistro. Needless to say we all slept well after an adventurous day !

Tuesday 16th April – no cycling and travel home to Falmouth ! 

The total mileage was 243 and approximately 30% was off-road with a total accent of 5128 metre! We planned the route with the help of the Cycling UK Guidebook and followed the route using Komoot as there are no signposts –  also we carried our own luggage.

We would all really recommend the Rebellion Way as the route took you through all the historic sites – battle grounds – castles – National Trust and other stately homes like Sandringham and Holkham Hall. We all loved Norfolk and the beautiful flint houses- village greens – blossom trees- Broads – coasts and countryside. Thanks again to Sheila our Komoot expert navigator!

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