Riding the Peddars Way

Words by David Hicks

on 06/08/2018 10:44:27

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Review By Alex Dickens, Assistant Store Manager at Grafham, Rutland Cycling

From Forest to Fen, our adventure began as we set off from Thetford, on the Norfolk/Suffolk border heading out to begin the Peddars Way, an ancient Roman road setting off through the heart of my home county all the way to the coast, just outside of Hunstanton. The cycle route officially starts just off the A11, heading north for 74km of flat bridleway, the route is easy to follow even without a map and is incredibly well signposted throughout the route, making it the perfect introduction to bikepacking for beginners or cyclists looking for a quick day adventure.

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Chris, my companion and I chose cyclocross and gravel bikes for this adventure. I opted for the Whyte Glencoe, and with its progressive geometry and its 650b 'Road Plus' tyres I thought this would work well along the route. However, after weeks of snow and wet weather I was worried at what state the trails would be in and if my slick 650b tyres would still be up to scratch. Luckily a bout of unseasonably warm weather helped calm my nerves when it came to the day of the ride. I was also riding with Topeak's bikepacking bags, which held all of my gear and food. The 11-42T gear ratio make light work of the climbs even with the bike loaded with gear.

Whyte Glencoe 2018

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The Whyte Glencoe 2018 has been designed to give the rider huge levels of comfort and security on all road surfaces and tracks, offering a wide range of gears with a SRAM 1x11 speed drivetrain, giving you the ability to both apply speed when required as well as give you a gear low enough to climb the tough hills, while also reducing the extra complication of a front derailleur giving you more reliability when commuting. TRP hydraulic disc brakes give you the confidence in the ability to stop the bike quickly should you need to. The Glencoe really does offer a confident cyclist, hassle free controlled riding to use this bike as a commuting or fitness bike.

  • Frame - 6061 T6 Hydroformed Aluminium Frame
  • Fork - Straight Bladed Alloy Front Fork
  • Drivetrain - SRAM Apex 1 1x11 Speed
  • Brakes - TRP Hydraulic Disc
Read Alex's Review of the Whyte Glencoe >

Once we crossed over the A11 our adventure began. We planned on doing the route in one day, stopping in Hunstanton for fish and chips and then heading back into Kings Lynn for our hotel. We crossed over from civilisation and felt as if we were stepping back into time. The first 10 miles are easily the fastest part of the ride, taking in the fringes of Thetford forest as we hared off through the forest. We both remarked throughout the ride on how peaceful the ride felt. Bridleway's linked with quite roads and sleepy villages as we rode through them enroute to our destination. Most of the ride is either spent on quite lanes, sandy surfaces or farm tracks and bridleways. After the dry spell with had during April, following on from the snowy March we had meant that some of the bridleways and farm tracks where quite rutted in places, making progress slow when you're fully laden. This is no full suspension mountain bike territory, but a perfect mission for a hard tail mountain bike or a gravel bike, when the weather is right. We even passed some motorcycles heading for the coast, and we were beating them to the coast for what seemed like miles until they came haring past (sidenote: motorbikes definitely are not allowed along the route!)

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Just before lunch we made our way to Castle Acre, the highest point on the route and our caf� stop. The views were spectacular by the ruins as we arrived at the foot of the small climb into the village and pulled into the nearest caf� to resupply with coffee and cake. This was one of the first and rare times where we came across other people enjoying the trail as much as we were. Since becoming a bridleway a couple of years ago has meant that all can enjoy the trail. Norfolk is quite a busy county, although didn't seem like it from our view.

After Castle Acre, the route follows a straight line all the way to Sedgeford. It's quite easy after descending to the road just to the South of Sedgeford to head straight up the hill and continue, however this leads straight into a sheep farm and a footpath. Quickly descending back down to the road we continued along the surprisingly undulating hills that make up North Norfolk (who said that Norfolk was flat?) We meandered through the roads and came to the top of our final hill, with our final descent heading straight towards the sea for what seemed like miles. Quite the anticlimactic finish to an epic adventure through the heart of the county of Norfolk, we ended up on a golf course marking the official end of the Peddars Way. The trail can be extended by the Norfolk Coastal Cycleway, extending the route along the coast all the way to Hopton on Sea, just outside of Great Yarmouth.

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After our short stop in Hunstanton for fish and chips we made our way towards Kings Lynn in the rain, our overnight stop before we both headed home. I felt proud to of completed the Peddars Way, with its rich and interesting history used for thousands of years before me. The route also proves that for the people of East Anglia who typically have to travel far for their adventures that there are many fun and interesting routes just by your doorstep.

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