I've cycled in Norfolk more times than I care to remember, including the Coast to Coast 'C2C' all be it on that occasion it was a fleeting visit as we headed Eastwards to the final destination of ‘St Davids Head’ in Wales.
What draws me back is quite simple, I live in Surrey and Norfolk is only a morning's drive away, yet the scenery, terrain, huge skies and it has to be said pace of life offer an appealing contrast that seduce me back to this part of the England time and time again. Yes Surrey is beautiful and you can still find quiet lanes to meander merrily along off the beaten track, but to me Norfolk does seem completely different, indeed it belies the fact that I've not traveled that far from home, I really do feel that I am on holiday, away from it all. The fact that I have not had to invest much in both time and money getting there is of course a bonus! Not spending an eternity travelling especially valid on this occasion as we were only stopping over for three days!
There is such a variety of cycling on offer to explore and enjoy, from the pretty villages dotted around the 'Broads', to pedaling through narrow country lanes and the woodland cycle routes that typify Norfolk, or cycling along pretty coastal roads, sea sparkling one side and wide open fields of barley on the other. Away from the coast roads the flat terrain can and quiet lanes are a welcome bonus, for me the coast roads can be a bit busy especially around the touristy areas, note they were also significantly hillier than the lanes! I like the occasional challenging tour in the Pyrenees or through Provence with Mont Ventoux on the menu, but for a variety of reasons occasionally my fitness levels and indeed bank balance can't justify that type of cycling, at such times I am more than happy to kick back and let Norfolk work it's magic.
Pedaling through narrow country lanes and woodland cycle ways .
On this particular short break we stayed at a Holiday Barn just North of Norwich near the small marker town of North Walsham, chosen as it had safe bike storage and easy access to the main areas we wanted to explore; those being the broads to the south and pretty coastal towns of Cromer and Blakeney to the North; for us the perfect location to explore Norfolk's idyllic countryside
North Walsham,Cromer,Blakeney loop
Now of course I am a keen cycle tourer and if it's one thing a cycle tourer loves as well as cycling, it's stopping! To me a bike is the perfect way to explore and experience everything an area has to offer and yes that includes frequenting the odd tea room or two, as well as the occasional pub to sample the local beers. To me cycling and stopping go hand in hand, ride a few miles, work up an appetite and refuel at a local cafe-tea room-pub; bliss!
Cliff and Louisa; Blakeney.
Of course many argue that taking your holiday in Britain means you have to put up with our weather, especially as we were away during the Wimbledon Tennis fortnight, which of course means one thing; rain! But it's summer, so at least the rain was warm and we were not on a tight schedule so shower dodging equated to "there's a storm a coming........and there's a very handy pub...", as the saying goes "every cloud has a silver lining"!
Wide open spaces and huge skies
One advantage of such huge skies is of course you can clearly see the gathering storm and significantly it's direction. Now that shower dodging pub I mentioned above was in Blakeney, midpoint of our ride, so with a true British 'glass half full' attitude we spent the next two hours saying "we will be fineeeeee, it's going to miss us...." and as that became less and less like likely, "it's OK,we will out run it...", neither said without much hope it has to be said! As it started to become obvious that it needed to be the latter our cycling speed gradually increased! Well I say gradually, every deep rumble of thunder seemed to be followed by a gear change and an extra mile per hour. Aided by the increase of wind speed that accompanies many a storm; which fortunately was blowing in just the right direction, we were much relieved to walk through the barn front door as the first spit spots of the storm struck the ground; I love Norfolk.
Racing and the storm and for once we won!
I can't recommend Norfolk highly enough, quintessentially English and on occasion just the tonic needed. As usual this short break topped us up with our regular dose of feelgood that is Norfolk; I dare say it will not be long before we 'pop' back again....