I recently cycled Peddars Way in Norfolk with my brother and have decided to document my ride both for my own records and for the information of others:
Always looking for a new challenge and living away from my home county of Norfolk, I thought riding Peddars Way would be an ideal opportunity to have a great day of riding whilst seeing some great sights and visiting my family. I began by convincing my brother what a great idea it would be, and although he was reticent at first because of the distance (58 miles), we agreed that we would take it easy, stop as often as we needed and I would lead as much as possible so he could draft me. As it turns out none of this was necessary (read on).
We decided to do the ride on Saturday the 28th July, which frustratingly turned out to be the same day as the Olympic men’s road race, where Mark Cavendish was expected to win Gold. So much for forward planning 😦
Finding the start
It wasn’t long before the day had arrived and we set off armed with maps, fuel, and enthusiasm. Our agreed starting point was a place called Knettishall Heath near Diss in Norfolk. For anyone wishing to follow in our Tyre marks, park or get dropped off at the Knettishall Heath Country Park car park. Then turn south out of the car park (away from your destination), turn right as you exit the car park, ride for about 800 m until you come to a small car park on your left. Then on the opposite side of the road about 50 m further on is where the trail starts. 58 miles North ish takes you to Hunstanton on the Norfolk Coast.
The first 10 miles of the ride are probably the fastest as they are through wooded singletracks. As we followed the trail we kept coming across a group of MTX riders who were also riding down to the coast (Although this is not permitted for MTX!). Being an eternal optimist I said to my brother, “I think we can beat these down to the coast !” as I knew they would have to keep stopping, and would probably have to take the long way round at some points.
My brother (Jeremy) wasn’t impressed with my ‘haring off’ after the bikes and sensibly stuck to a comfortable pace (wish I had done the same!).
My brother (Jens)
Jeremy a keen cyclist who enjoys XC but is more comfortable on his road bike, was I think it was fair to say a little apprehensive about riding 58 miles XC with me. Training for at most an hour at a time, I think he was worried what 6 hrs in the saddle would do to him.
He needn’t have worried as after 40 miles I was starting to flag and Jeremy was taking the lead and riding like a man possessed.
I told him he reminded me of Jens Voigt one of my favorite riders, who like him was a big powerful rider, who rode massive gears. Somehow it made me feel better to compare him to a rider such as Jens, as I was having trouble keeping up with him.
We stopped in Castle Acre for lunch which was about half way and an ideal place, full of quaint little bric-a-brac shops, tea rooms and pubs.
Castle Acre Church
The section between 20 miles and 40 miles were the most difficult, riding through at times long grass, then sand, then long grass again, and over an undulating profile.
This sort of terrain was gradually sapping my strength and despite having ridden 100 miles the weekend before in under 5 1/2 hrs I was running out of steam and Jeremy gradually left me behind. Although he always waited at crossing and route points for me to catch up.
Over 40 years we’d built up healthy sibling rivalry and during my ‘suffer time’ I was trying hard to justify how it was, that my brother who doesn’t ride competitively (as I do) and who only trains for an hour at a time was dropping me like a hot potato? I was after-all riding quite well I thought.
My only conclusion was that he really was a natural bike rider, with great natural power from years of playing badminton, and that he really hadn’t tested himself before like he was on our ride, it was I thought a confidence thing for him, as he obviously had the ability to ride hard for at least 40 miles XC. What else could I come up with? All my training would be wasted…
Jens Voigt having a well earned rest
For those wondering, the 58 miles including a 45 min stop half way and another 15 min stop further on took us about 6 hrs, and we averaged about 12 mph. Less ambitious cyclists should not be deterred, the ride really is a ‘must do’ and at a slower pace would have been much more enjoyable. The whole of Peddars Way is ride-able despite maps indicating to the contrary, and the terrain varies from wooded fire trails, to grassy climbs and quiet country roads. It’s so easy to follow as it’s almost dead straight.
I can see the sea!!
The first time you see the sea, coming out of Ringstead, there is a tremendous feeling of satisfaction and accomplishment having left all those strength sapping miles behind you.
On our journey which was on a beautiful summers day we passed no more than 10 people. Remarkably the trail passes through very few villages, maybe two or three, so take the opportunity to stop when you can, as if you wait for the next opportunity it may be 20 miles coming, and yes for anyone wondering we didn’t beat the guys on MTX bikes, although my legs felt like they’d tried pretty hard.
Thanks to my brother for making me want to be a better bike rider!!
Download a GPX file of Peddars Way
Download a TCX file of Peddars Way (Works with some Garmins)
Download a Map of Peddars Way
Download an Aerial Photo Map of Peddars Way