This is my 200+ mile walk around Norfolk (my home county). I walked it in March, May and June 2020, wild camping every night. I joined the Norfolk Coast Path, Angles Way and Iceni Way together to make a route that would take me the whole way around the edges of Norfolk. There’s also the option to use the Peddars Way path instead of the Iceni Way.
I was interrupted by the lock-down measures to help prevent the spread of Covid-19. I’d only managed about 100 miles before the UK government brought in travel restrictions and asked everyone to stay home. So I had to go home for a while, before I was able to come back and completed the walk after restrictions were lifted. Updated June 2020 completing my 200+ mile walk around Norfolk.
Day 1: 20th March 2020
My wife dropped me off in Scole (near Diss) at 6.20am, before heading for work. It was a cloudy morning with a cold wind as I set off following the Angles Way. This roughly follows the Norfolk – Suffolk border all the way to Great Yarmouth. It is a mixture of fields, farm tracks, green lanes and short sections of minor roads.
I was enjoying the walk this morning and because of the early start, I was ready to stop when I reached the lovely pub in Mendham at 11am. They were open although not serving food until 12, but I was happy to sit in there out of the cold wind. I enjoyed a nice pint of ale, and then another with a good meal.
This pub meal had been a very good decision for a different reason. Speaking to my wife that evening, I learned that the government had ordered the closure of all pubs and restaurants from 8pm that night.
On long distance hikes I find this 2-hour break and a good meal really makes a difference. It usually means I’ll walk later into the evening and cover a higher mileage in the day than if I hadn’t stopped.
There was still a cold wind blowing when I left the pub, and a short shower during the afternoon. It was nice walking though, as the Angles Way zig-zagged around. The route tended to search out interesting places like remote churches, making it worth following the Angles Way rather than taking obvious paths to shorten the route.
I struggled to find anywhere to filter water and wild camp at the time I wanted to stop. So I did have to walk further than intended today, finally stopping after it was dark. I made coffee and a dehydrated meal for tea.
There was a little road noise from the A146 but it was a nice spot right next to the river. I slept really well.
Day 2: 21st March 2020
It had been a windy night but I hardly knew that while tucked up in the Lightwave S10 Sigma tent.
I woke at 5am, made coffee and ate another dehydrated meal for breakfast with the tent door open watching the sun rise. I got packed up and away early before anyone else was about, as always when camped wild near civilisation. This means I don’t disturb anyone and ideally no one would ever know I had been there.
Today’s walk was even more enjoyable than yesterday’s. The route followed a lovely path beside the River Waveney. The weather was nicer too; still a very cold wind but with blue sky and sunshine.
It was then an interesting walk around Oulton Broad on the edge of Lowestoft. The route then took me through beautiful Somerleyton where I stopped for a snack.
Somerleyton is a really nice village with some lovely old properties and village green.
I love long distance walks because they take you to places you wouldn’t perhaps normally choose to go and. I don’t plan them too much, so I never know what I’m likely going to find around the corner.
So I was pleased to come across what appeared to be a pile of rocks on a hill near the path at Burgh Castle. I climbed up to have a look and was surprised that it turned out to be a massive Roman Fort with views over Breydon Water.
There were quite a few people about and it was sad to see a well-placed pub overlooking Breydon Water all closed up due to the new Covid-19 restrictions. I sat on one of their benches for a rest for a while, but it would have been even nicer with a pint.
The path skirted Beydon Water, and after a mile or so I stopped to filter some water. I camped at about 5pm a little off the path on a nice flat piece of grass out of the wind.
Luckily I was carrying enough dehydrated meals and not reliant on pubs or cafes. I heated up the water for coffee and a meal. It was nice to stop early and I laid in my sleeping bag listening to music for a while before going to sleep.
It had been another nice day walking the usual footpaths but today there had also been some lovely stretches of woodland. There had still been a very cold wind though. I had been wearing everything that I had brought with me and I was now worried that as I came out onto the coast and into the full force of the wind, I might not be warm enough.
Day 3. 22nd March
I woke up cold a few times last night. The EDZ 200g merino wool crew neck top and leggings were working fine with the PHD sleeping bag, but I was feeling the cold from the ground. So I phoned my wife to get her to bring a different sleeping mat, so I could swap it when I met up with her and the children later. I was lucky we had pre-arranged a resupply meeting on the coast later today.
I made an early start walking along Breydon Water as the sun came up. Walking through the centre of Great Yarmouth while it was still deserted was a novelty at the time, but not so much now we are all in lock-down.
There was still a cold wind but there wasn’t a cloud in the sky when the sun came up. It was a great start to the coastal part of my hike. The wind had even turned onto my back so that didn’t feel as cold.
After leaving Great Yarmouth along the sea front, I followed the coast path past Caister-on-Sea and California.
The coast path eventually became a nice path through sand dunes to Winterton-on-Sea where I met my family. We found a lovely spot out of the wind (and away from other people) to have a picnic and lay in the sun while the kids played.
Thank you to my wife for dropping off the resupply parcel and a few extras that I asked her to add to it. I changed my Klymit Inertia O Zone mat for my Thermarest NeoAir Xtherm mat which is warmer but with the pump sack and pillow, is quite a bit heavier. I also replaced my Rab down bodywarmer for my Helly Hansen Lifaloft jacket. This should be warmer and it’s only a little heavier.
I had been having trouble with blisters because I made a rookie mistake at the start of the walk: too many miles in the first few days. So I changed my Inov-8 Roclite G 370 boots for the Roclite 325 boots, which are softer and breathe better. To help with the blisters I changed my thick EDZ socks for thinner Darn Tough Light Hiker socks.
I had spent most of the day with my family. It was fairly late when I left them and started walking along the beach again. I walked for about an hour or so when I came across the perfect pitch for the night, with a great view over the sea.
It was only 5pm and it was very windy but I knew the tent would be OK. As I was in no particular rush, I stopped earlier than planned and heated water for dinner and coffee. I also had a number of seals playing in the surf just below me. It was lovely watching them while I ate.
It was cold in the wind so I was glad to get into my sleeping bag to eat tea and drink my coffee. I was missing my family but I was feeling lucky to be there, watching the sun set and having had such good weather today.
Day 4: 23rd March 2020
I had a good night’s sleep on the more comfortable and warmer Xtherm mat but was irritated by my pillow. This is why I prefer the Klymit mat, because the pillow is fixed to it and stays in place.
I woke early but wasn’t in a rush to get up. I laid in my sleeping bag drinking coffee for a while, looking out at the sea watching the sun come up. It was 7am before I finally got up, packed up and headed off.
I climbed down off the sand dunes to find the beach covered in sleeping seals. Not wanting to disturb them, I climbed straight back onto the sand dunes to follow the coast path. I had to walk in the dunes for a couple of miles before I could rejoin the beach.
It was great weather again but the wind was still cold this morning. I was glad to have the Helly Hansen jacket to wear now. The wind was on my back again and I really enjoyed the long walk along the beach past Sea Palling and Happisburgh.
I was starting to run short of water and knew I would need some for the camp tonight. I joined the coast path through Walcott but was unable to find any. Rejoining the beach again, I passed Bacton gas distribution station and climbed the small hill up to Mundesley. Here I found water and best of all, an open fish and chip shop.
I enjoyed some of the best fish and chips that I’ve had in years. I found out later that I had been lucky again, because this was the last day they were allowed to stay open. The Covid-19 outbreak was really impacting on communities now. There were few people about, but was nice to have a chat with a couple from Derbyshire on holiday nearby.
I followed the coast path out of Mundesley. It was an interesting walk, staying up above the cliffs for a few miles.
I spotted a what looked like a flat area of grass down near the bottom of the cliff. There looked to be a safe route down to it, so I thought I’d go and have a look. The descent was steeper than expected and when I got to the flat area of grass, it wasn’t as large as it had appeared from above. Luckily the tent I was carrying had a fairly small footprint.
The tent just fitted here and luck would have it, I had a great view out to sea.
Eating dinner with the view over the sea was great, and later I watched the sun set from the comfort of my bed. I was pretty happy when I eventually went to sleep to the sound of the waves on the beach.
Day 5: 24th March 2020
I woke up as it was getting light as usual, but didn’t rush to get up as the tide was right in. I just made a coffee and laid in my sleeping bag with the tent door open, watching another great sunrise. Knowing I was out of sight and away from the path meant I wouldn’t upset anybody by being here. And I knew I couldn’t get going early because I had no intentions climbing that cliff to the coast path. So I had a leisurely breakfast, another coffee and just waited until the tide went out.
The wind was lighter today. It felt warmer when I eventually packed up and set off along the beach at 7.30am. There were no people about and the tide was only just out enough for me to get to Overstrand.
It was here that I got a phone signal and received a text from my wife. She told me that the UK government had said everyone should stay at home, so I should come back.
So instead of taking my intended route around the coast past Cromer, I changed the route. I headed inland towards home. I had enough food to walk home from here, so I wasn’t particularly worried.
It was an interesting walk through fields and quiet lanes to join the Weavers Way for a few miles. This is a path we have walked before as a family.
It is a really good walk on good paths, passing pretty cottages and tranquil villages.
The Weavers Way took me all the way to Blickling Hall, a very popular National Trust property.
It was closed when I walked through the grounds on a public footpath. It was a strange feeling walking through here with no people about.
I didn’t like the look of the route home – too much road and my feet were sore – so I phoned my lovely wife and she picked me up from here. It was a surreal drive home as she told me of all the changes to our freedoms that had been made in the few days since I left home.
I will come back to complete the walk when restrictions are lifted.
2nd stage of my 200+ mile walk around Norfolk
I set off in May for the second part of my walk around Norfolk. My 17 year old daughter accompanied me for the first few days.
It was now much warmer than the first stage of the walk (being two months later!) I changed the gear I was carrying, so I’ve added a second list to my Around Norfolk gear list.
We set off from where I had to stop the walk back in March. We left Overstrand in the late afternoon after I’d finished work, and walked along the sandy beach to Cromer.
The weather was perfect and the tide was out, so we could walk along the sand. The coast path leaves the cliff edge and goes inland here, so we were glad the tide was out. We were able to stay by the sea for a much more enjoyable walk.
We ate fish and chips on Cromer Pier before carrying on along the beach for a few miles. Once it got dark we pitched our tents on the sand, well above the high tide mark, and watched the sun set.
I was extremely pleased I had my Tarptent Notch Li with me. I was able to leave all the doors tied back, which made it possible for me to pitch it between two rocks.
We woke extremely early and set off around 6am, with a slight breeze and perfectly blue sky. It was lovely walking and spending time with my daughter.
The sandy beach became shingle and harder to walk on, so we took to the coast path. This was grassy and gave us expansive views of the beautiful North Norfolk coast.
The coast path was also hard work in places as it crossed areas of shingle, but there were a surprising number of wildflowers.
The walking became easier as we left the beach and headed inland to Cley next the Sea.
We followed the coast path along the flood defence embankments for what seemed like hours. It was a little dull, except for the amazing variety of marsh birds around. I started to see why North Norfolk is so important for its salt marsh habitats.
This was an interesting walk past some really nice old coastal properties and pretty little harbours. These used to be places for working fishing boats but now contain mainly pleasure craft.
The coast path was easy to follow and in good condition, very interesting and a real pleasure to walk.
We passed through Blakeney and then Morston. We stopped on a bench here to watch a whole variety of pleasure craft being launched. Once we eventually set off again, we only covered a few miles before stopping again at a gorgeous and very peaceful spot beside another little harbour. It was nice not to have an itinerary forcing us on; we had the freedom to stop when and where we liked. This is one of the main reasons I like wild camping – we’re not forced to push on if we don’t want to, because we’ve not got to get to accommodation by nightfall. It’s much more relaxing this way.
The next part of the day was spent relaxing in the sun for lunch and chatting with my daughter. The lockdown has made me look at places closer to home and has made me appreciate my home county much more. Before lockdown, I was heading off to the hills for my outdoor needs but I’ve really enjoyed this walk around Norfolk. It helps that the weather has been perfect and there was so little chance of rain, I’ve not carried a coat.
The bonus with walking so close to home is that I’ve been able to carry minimal kit. If I have a problem, my wife is not far away and can drop off anything I may unexpectedly need.
North Norfolk has some lovely old flint buildings that make this a very pretty walk. The coast path stayed away from the sea all day, to get past various inlets and salt marshes. I like walking by the sea but did enjoy the change. Coastal walks can be hard work in bad weather and high winds when you’re getting the full force coming of the sea, so the chance to move away from this for a while is welcomed.
Today was glorious and we were feeling extremely lucky to be here. This positive attitude was probably being caused by the thought we were nearly in Wells-Next-The-Sea. This is a place we knew well and where we knew the tide was out . We were looking forward to a few hours walking along huge sandy beaches again.
Wells was very busy so we passed through as quickly as possible, because of the social distancing needed caused by Covid-19. We just stopped for an ice cream and a few photographs.
It’s a one mile walk along the sea wall to reach the car park and beach. We could have joined the beach here, but we chose to follow the lovely path through the old pine trees.
We joined the beach after a mile or so, then crossed Holkham Bay with the tide out.
It was nice to stop in the sand dunes for tea and watch the sun setting out over the sea. This is another reason I love wild camping. I probably wouldn’t have been here at this time if it had only been a day walk.
Luckily it was a fairly full moon so it stayed reasonably light late, but it was getting pretty dull when we found somewhere to camp. But this is exactly how I like it and means I’m able to stick to My 11 Wild Camping Rules.
We woke very early due to the sun rising so early this time of year – we were packed up and on the move by 5am. It was another glorious day with a light warm breeze and clear blue sky. It was a lovely walk through the sand dunes and along the sea defence embankment to Burnham Overy Staithe.
Burnham Overy Staithe was stunning in the early morning light as we walked through it, with the sun rising above the dunes.
The enjoyment dissipated slightly as we walked around the sea defence embankment to Burnham Deepdale, as it seemed never ending. But again it was interesting watching the many birds feeding in the salt marshes. I did wish I had taken more interest in the past to know what these birds were, as I didn’t recognise many. I’m sure this is bird watchers’ heaven!
The path got nicer as we passed Brancaster Staithe
It’s at Brancaster that the coast path heads inland quite a way and then returns to the coast to save a few miles on the road. We decided to save over a mile and use the road, which was not too busy at that time of the morning and still had some good views.
At Thornham we rejoined the coast path and followed it out to the beach. We took our shoes and socks off and walked about two miles in the sea, to meet my wife and younger children for a picnic and resupply at Holme next the Sea beach.
This was as far as my daughter was going with me. She went home with my wife and I set off fully resupplied for another 3 days. This included about 5L of water, which with the food added at least 6kgs to my pack weight.
The need to carry water has been my main problem with walking around Norfolk. It’s very difficult to find water to filter and because of many places being closed due to Covid-19, it’s hard to buy or refill bottles as well.
Peddars Way junction with the Norfolk Coast Path
Holme next the Sea would be a good place to leave my around Norfolk walk and head inland on the Peddars Way. It’s a nicer walk than the route I tried to follow – the Iceni Way.
The Iceni Way was not a very good walk, despite what I had read elsewhere. Some of the paths were impassable so I had to change the route. I enjoyed the rest of my walk but I would recommend the Peddars Way instead of my route, especially if you haven’t walked the Peddars Way before.
I was sorry to leave my family and felt lonely walking without Zoe. I’m used to hiking alone, but it had been nice having her company these last few days.
The tide was out when I set off. I had a heavy pack but it was great to be off again. I was walking a part of the Norfolk coast that I had never been to before. The cliffs at Hunstanton were dramatic and unusual, but short lived. I rounded the corner to find Hunstanton beach packed with people, and found it hard to social distance through them all.
I followed the Iceni Way from Hunstanton, a relatively new walk and an unknown route to me. The Norfolk Coast path had ended in Holme and you could follow the Peddars Way inland to Knettishall Heath. As I have walked that before, I chose to follow the Iceni Way to Knettishall Heath instead.
The sand became muddy and stony after passing Hunstanton so I followed the sea wall to Heacham and Shepherd’s Port. From here I left the coast, heading for Dersingham and Sandringham.
I soon as I left the coast I passed a sign saying that this was the royal Sandringham Estate and that I could only use the paths during daylight hours. I wondered what they meant by that because it was now 8pm, still light but I didn’t know if I could pass all the way through Sandringham before it got dark. This was a worry for a while because I expected security to be high.
The walk through the grounds of Sandringham house were stunning with all the rhododendrons flowering. I will admit to getting lost through here and needing my GPS to position myself on more than one occasion.
Sandringham house and gardens were deserted as I passed by, which was even more worrying. However, I managed to join the road as it got dark and needed to find somewhere to camp.
It was a nice quiet night camped in the woods and I slept well, but it’s hard keeping to my wild camping rules this time of year. It’s not dark for very long so there’s not enough time for sleep for too long. I like to be away at first light but didn’t wake up, but I was up and away shortly after 4am. So I think that was OK.
I set off along the road for a short distance to join a cycle way to Castle Rising. It’s a lovely little village and really does have a castle, but it was too early for me to have a look around it.
Walking from Sandringham to Kings Lynn was on a variety of quiet roads, farm tracks and good paths. It was early and there were very few people about.
The route followed dedicated cycle paths most of the way through Kings Lynn, which was an efficient, nearly nice way through a big town.
There were a few places of interest but it’s not a particularly photogenic place. I was glad to join the River Great Ouse and be out in the open again. The Fen Rivers Way was signed from here and I knew I was going to be following rivers for the next few days.
I was a little apprehensive about this part of the walk. This was an area I had never walked before and looked very remote and possibly a bit inhospitable.
It was good weather again but without the sea breeze, it was pretty hot and I was sweating. I was wary of my water situation as knew I would be drinking more in this heat.
The walk could be classed as interesting if you’re wanting to see how humans have interfered with the landscape around here. We have made a massive impact on the area by draining the Fens. It’s impressive how they’ve controlled the water flow here and the building work that’s gone on in the past.
The work is still going on and probably now more important than ever, because the rivers are tidal and the work is to stop flooding. I’m surprised how far inland the rivers have man-made embankments and pumping stations etc.
At the tiny village of Wiggenhall St Germans I was very surprised and happy to find an open village store.
This was perfectly timed as I was ready to stop for lunch. I purchased some fresh food, lucozade and 3L of water. Then I crossed the road to sit in the shade of a church for an hour.
Passing the outskirts of Downham Market, I decided that I didn’t need to or feel like adding the extra miles going into the centre. But this could be a good resupply point if needed. I crossed Denver Sluice, another man made structure built to control the flow of water. This is where the river is no longer tidal and is used for boating.
I was surprised by the number of people out and about on their boats. Many seemed to be lived on.
I’d walked a long way today and my legs were feeling it, so I was glad to stop for dinner by the river. It was a nice flat area of freshly mowed grass and I was very tempted to camp there for the night. But it was too close to a track for my liking.
The sun was getting low in the sky when I set off again, but I eventually stopped when the light was starting to fade. I was forced to camp at a fence and sign that said that there were cows in the next field. I know from experience that it’s not good walking past cows with a head torch on; it really upsets them.
Another early start and gorgeous sunrise, but my tent was unusually damp with condensation. It had been a very still night and misty morning so the condensation was understandable.
It was a damp and misty morning’s walk following the river on a unusually overgrown path. I was walking in Altra Lone Peak mesh trail shoes so this was the first time on the walk that I had wet feet.
The morning started with wet feet and dodging cows in the mist, until I reached the B1112 road. From here the Iceni way follows the north side of the Little Ouse river but don’t. I tried to follow this path and wasted over an hour fighting my way through overgrown undergrowth until I got to a drainage ditch without a bridge. It was too wide to jump and unsafe to wade through.
Stop following the Iceni Way at the B1112
When you reach the B1112 turn right and head south. Shortly after crossing the railway line, turn left (east) on a track called Hereward Way.
This is a lot nicer and will take you into Brandon, where it’s possible to resupply again. I purchased a takeaway coffee and breakfast, which went down extremely well after the terrible morning I’d had. It cheered me right up and is just the thing that makes long distance walking worthwhile.
From Brandon continue following the Hereward Way through Thetford Forest.
This was an enjoyable walk through Thetford Forest on good paths all the way to Santon Downham.
Santon Downham is a well spread village surrounded by the forest, with a lovely flint church and popular river. There were a lot of families in the area, especially children playing in the river.
From Santon Downham I followed the Hereward Way through the forest to join the Peddars Way.
The paths and tracks are good, but there were a few miles on quiet roads. I then followed a track through Croxton Heath and past Wretham Heath nature reserve.
When I reached the Peddars Way I turned south, following it to Knettishall Heath.
The Peddars Way path was very well used and easy to follow.
I was pushing on to get to Knettishall Heath that afternoon so my wife could pick me up. I had to get back for work the following day!
I did find the time to stop when I found a bench with a view. I had a half hour break for dinner and to make myself a coffee.
I enjoyed the walk along the Peddars Way and reached Knettishall Heath car park just in time to meet my wife to pick me up.
At Knettishall Heath it’s possible to join the Angles Way path, which will take you to Scole and the place I started my 200+ mile walk around Norfolk walk.
3rd stage of my 200+ mile walk around Norfolk
There was only 18 miles of my walk around Norfolk left, so I walked it with my two youngest children and wife.
It was nice to be back to complete my walk around Norfolk. It was another gorgeous day and yet again it wasn’t necessary to carry a rain coat.
We set off from where they had picked me up a few weeks before. The Angles Way path roughly follows the Little Ouse River all the way to its source, which is also close to the source of the River Waveney. The Angles Way path then follows the course of the River Waveney all the way to the sea.
This was the start of the Angles Way and it would take us all the way to Scole, which is where I started this 200+ mile walk around Norfolk. That seems like many months ago and a world away from how things are now. Covid-19 has certainly had an impact on the world since I started in Scole.
The Angles Way was easy going, following farm tracks and paths through fields.
The route also passes through some nice little quiet villages.
It was an enjoyable walk through Hinderclay Fen to the source of the Little Ouse river.
It was an interesting walk on good paths through the Redgrave and Lopham nature reserve. A place I had never heard of before walking the Angles Way, even though I live within about 15 miles.
The walk has been very quiet and we’ve not seen many people out and about, just the odd dog walker.
The route has been varied and passes some nice thatched properties.
We were 17 miles done and only 1 mile to go when someone told my wife that she could have chips and a pint for tea, should have seen her go!
Notes on the walk
I have really enjoyed this walk around Norfolk. It has been a very interesting and varied walk. The Coast Path is probably the best part of it but the rest was better than expected. The Angles Way was nicer than expected too, but the Iceni Way was the least interesting part of the walk and is the only section that could possibly be overgrown. It’s not a well walked path and could be difficult to follow and reroute around issues. The path is impossible to follow on the north side of the Little Ouse River after the B1112.
If you haven’t walked the Peddars Way before, I would definitely turn south at Holme next the Sea, following the Peddars Way to Knettishall Heath to join the Angles Way path.
I was very lucky with the weather and was travelling with a fairly light backpack. Not even carrying a coat at any point on the walk, but I don’t recommend this. I had good backup and resupply from my wife, so she could have delivered me a coat if rain had been in the forecast. I was also covering high mileages each day, so I would recommend allowing an extra day or two so you could have a more relaxed walk.
Cicerone book – The Peddars Way and Norfolk Coast Path
Cicerone book – 40 Circular Walks in Norfolk
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