Peddars Way & Norfolk Coast, England

A walk through Norfolk - 95 km, 5 - 6 days

The Village of Castle Acre with the Ostrich InnTHE PEDDAR'S & NORFOLK COAST PATH WALK is one of Norfolk’s better known walks. This walk takes you along the old Roman road which moved troops up from Colchester. Once at Hunstanton, you follow the Norfolk Coast Path to Cromer. Peddar’s Way begins at Knettishall Heath near the old market town of Thetford, passes villages and towns of Little Cressingham, Castle Acre, Hunstanton (via Sandringham), Burnham Overy Staithe, Blakeney before arriving at Cromer on the Norfolk coast.

BRUCE ROBINSON has written a guide book for this walk. A specially designed, well-made and bound pocket sized book that guides you along the trail.

THE PEDDARS WAY & NORFOLK COAST WAY ROUTE is 95 km long and for those contemplating this trail for their walking holiday in England, a certain amount of planning is required. Although the path is well marked, the English weather is unpredictable and needs to be catered for.

Boats near Norfolk Coast at low tide HISTORY: The route of the PEDDARS WAY has existed since Roman times and was built shortly after AD61 to enable troops to move through East Anglia for policing purposes, to provide a fast link between the Roman garrison in Colchester and the Iceni heartland. The name 'Peddars' was given to it by travellers using to the path in the 15 or 16th centuries. The NORFOLK COAST PATH is in comparison a modern route deliberately created using a network of existing footpaths and newly created ones to link the coastal end of the Peddars Way with Cromer. The two became joined as a Long Distance Path in 1986 in a ceremony performed by the Prince of Wales at Holme-next-the-Sea. In 1991 it became the Peddars Way and Norfolk Coast Path National Trail.

GENERAL INFORMATION ABOUT THE WALK: Peddar’s Way & Norfolk Coast Path Route: Starting from Knettishall Heath near the old market town of Thetford, the path takes you to Hunstanton on north Norfolk's Heritage Coast. The path follows the line of a Roman road, built during Rome's battle against the rebellious Iceni tribe led by Queen Boadicea. A mix of country lanes, rich farmland makes for pleasant walking. Then the path follows the Norfolk coast to Cromer.

General walking route of Peddar's Way and Norfolk Coast PathSOME HIGHLIGHTS: The priory at Castle Acre, a visit to Sandringham (the Queen's holiday residence). Hunstanton, a Victorian era holiday town and the sea dykes on the Norfolk Coast Path.

WALKING ROUTE PLANNER: The number of days required depends on how fit and how quickly or leisurely you want your walking holiday to be. Work out the average number of kilometres you are prepared to do in a day, taking into account the landscape and the town or village in which you will end your day. It's also nice to plan on arriving a little earlier in a village if there are interesting attractions you may like to visit, such as in Hunstanton or Cromer. We did the walk in 5 days, however it's also possible to do it in about 4 days if you put your running shoes on.

LUGGAGE TRANSFER: This efficient service is readily available and can be organized through a number of tour operators on the ‘self-guided’ itineraries.

YOUR PEDDARS WAY ACCOMMODATION: This is usually in B&Bs or inns and should be booked in advance.

FOOD: Mostly good quality traditional English food is served up at B&Bs and village inns and there are wide choices in their menu. Cider and ale are common. Most B&B owners can cater for vegetarians or people with other food preferences if given sufficient notice.

WHEN TO GO: The northern Spring or Autumn seasons are recommended as accommodation is easier to obtain and the tourist numbers are lower.

WALKING GEAR: Good walking boots and socks are critical. Your shoes should have been broken in. Also important is what rain gear to take. Make sure it’s made from a breathable material.

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ITINERARY for Peddar's and Norfolk Coast Path - 95 km

The following is an outline of the 6-day walk itinerary that we chose. We decided on this itinerary because of the reasonable distances and the available accommodation.

  • Where to Start: Thetford, Norfolk, UK.
  • How to get there: Trains or buses from London’s Kings Cross to Diss (B&B) or Thetford (about 2 hrs). Accommodation hosts can arrange local transfer to start of walk.
Walking itinerary: 6 days
  • Day 1. Knettishall Heath - Little Cressingham (23km). Most of the route is relatively flat. The path traverses swathes of countryside.
  • Day 2. Castle Acre (20km). Along a quiet road, past hedgerows and farms. Then across fields and then to North Pickenham. From Great Palgrave we can make out the Norman tower of a church (St. James). Then through the hamlet of South Acre and across a ford, past the Castle Acre Priory and to Castle Acre itself.
  • Day 3. Hunstanton (via Sandringham) (32km). We caught a lift to Sandringham, the Royal family’s country estate in Norfolk. We walk past the ornate Norwich Gates and into the main building. This is a worthwhile visit if you have the time. From Sandringham, the quickest way to Hunstanton is via lanes and back roads. It’s quite enjoyable making your way across the countryside. We pass some interesting villages. Lots of partridges and grouse around.
  • Day 4. Burnham Overy Staithe (24km). Holme-next-the-Sea and runs past salt marsh, beach and cliffs of the Norfolk Coast Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB). At Burnham Deepdale we check out the visitor centre. Then back to the sea dyke. It was a 5 km walk to Burnham Overy-Staithe. This is Nelson country, and we pass a hotel named The Hero. Burnham Overy-Staithe is a harbour town when the tide is high.
  • Day 5. Blakeney (24km). We next visit Holkham Hall, the country property of Edward, Seventh Earl of Leicester. And then on to Wells-next-the-Sea to be on time for the departure of the Wells to Walsingham train which runs on a narrow gauge railway. We visit the Shrine of Our Lady Church and the ruins of the monastery and abbey in the beautiful gardens. Train back to Wells-next-the-Sea and a 12 km walk to Blakeney.
  • Day 6. Cromer (22.5km) - your destination! Today to Sherrington, Roman Camp and then to Cromer, famous for its crabs and its pier.
  • How to get back from Cromer: Take the train to London’s Liverpool St Station (2 ½ hrs).
Our Take:
We particularly enjoyed walking along the breezy coast and visiting the old churches. The area around Nelson country is pleasantly quaint. There is a lot to see on this 95 km journey through Norfolk, so remember to bring your camera. We particularly enjoyed walking along the breezy coast. Be prepared for rain and the wonderful walking. The Way is well sign posted.
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