North Norfolk is famous for its stunning coastline, waterways and beaches. Sophie’s route takes you past some of her favourite views at home, including a long ride on coastal roads where the impact of rising sea levels and disastrous coastal erosion can be seen first-hand.
You can pick up this route in the village of Horsford, which is just a short ride away from Norwich station for those travelling to the region by train, or if you’re arriving by car, there’s parking on Sandy Lane. This area is a great spot for road cyclists as these inland roads have minimal traffic. You’ll probably only come across a tractor or two on your journey, and there are no traffic lights at any point, so you can be free to cycle as fast or as slow as you want.
This route is particularly flat, so although there’s not much elevation to watch out for, or big hills to conquer, it’s a great, long ride for those who want to take in some pretty gorgeous views of the surrounding countryside and Norfolk’s famous coastline.
As you head north towards the sea, you’ll pass the nearby Scolt Head Island – a nature reserve which has been undisturbed by human activity for years and acts as an important breeding ground for birds such as the arctic tern.
From Burnham Norton, you join a coastal road that takes you parallel to the sea for a number of kilometres. This is a great section, with fields on your right and the sea on your left. There are a number of great viewpoints across this road, including the bay at Wells-next-the- Sea, and sea views from Sheringham. Wells Harbour is pretty bustling with tourists over the summer, and you’ll see why when you get here for the famous fish & chips.
It’s along this glorious stretch of road, as you cycle pass Cley Village, that you can really understand the impact of coastal erosion in Norfolk. You’ll see what remains of the sand banks on the beaches, which have been greatly reduced in size. Just a few years ago, rising sea levels flooded this area and surrounding marshes, and washed down the sand dunes, so any returning visitors will be able to spot the difference.
As your journey takes you back inland down towards Horsford you’re surrounded by cattle fields and attractive landscapes. You’ll pass Blickling Estate - which you can takre in from the gate by the road, or alternatively, stop off and explore the Jacobean house and its impressive 55-acre formal garden – complete with orangery.
At a decent pace, the route should take around 4 hrs 40 min. However if you’re looking for a more leisurely ride to take in Norfolk’s famous views and food (and with no big climbs to slog up – why not?) you can happily take a whole day to complete this ride.
about the rider
Sophie Wright is a professional cyclist on the Alé BTC Ljubljana World Tour team. Although Sophie is from the east of the UK, which is known for its flatness, she prefers to train and race in the mountains when possible.
beauty in the balance
· 31% of coastline in the South of England is eroding, leaving coastal areas such as Norfolk at risk.
· The Norfolk village of Happisburgh predicted to see the most land. disappear over the next 20 years – with a predicted loss of 318ft of land.
· Sea levels around the UK have already risen by some 15cm since 1900 and are expected to rise by up to 1.12m from current levels by 2100.