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Flat lanes & green fields – Cycling the NCN 1 from Fakenham to Harwich

Jeremy Halls (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

Flat lanes & green fields – Cycling the NCN 1 from Fakenham to Harwich

Bike Touring Collection by Amy

3-5

days

3-5 h

/ day

177 mi

4,400 ft

4,575 ft

Regal castles, colourful marshlands, historic harbours and the magnificent Norfolk Broads – cycling the National Cycle Network Route 1 is a wonderful journey through nature and history in South East England.

This Collection guides you 177 miles (285 km) from Fakenham to Harwich on the North Sea in six stages. With just 4,429 feet (1,350 m) of climbing, the NCN 1 is a perfect choice for riders of all abilities and ages. It is, in fact, one of the flattest routes in the National Cycle Network.

The NCN 1 may be flat, but it is far from boring. You can enjoy green, wide fields that stretch far into the horizon as you ride through rural Norfolk, Suffolk and Essex. These wonderful counties are steeped in history ranging from Roman invasion to Norman raids. As you ride, you can visit the impressive 12th-century Framlingham Castle, countless unique churches, and forgotten ports which were once a hub of trade, connecting the UK with the rest of the world.

Historic cities and towns such as Norwich, Halesworth, Framlingham, Woodbridge, Colchester and Ipswich, one of England’s oldest towns, also lie en route. These interesting places boast many pubs, restaurants, and cafes for a well-earned rest. You will also easily find accommodation in all of the stage destinations.

Pristine countryside, hedge-lined lanes, and the spectacular Norfolk Broads await you on this journey. The scenery is varied and beautiful despite its gentle gradients. As with most places, bright summer days are the best to enjoy this vibrant, green nature. However, you can ride the route all-year-round – just don’t forget your rain jacket.

The majority of the NCN 1 follows quiet country lanes, with occasional busy sections through towns and cities. You will also follow some traffic-free sections such as the Marriotts Way. The surfaces are mostly paved so you can ride any bike, although the traffic-free sections have some mild gravel and mud.

Unfortunately, there is no train station in Fakenham, the start of your adventure. Your best bet is to take the train to Norwich and ride the 26 miles (42 km) to the start of the route from there. Alternatively, you could start from Norwich and skip out the beginning. Luckily, Harwich has much easier transport links. From here, you can travel via Manningtree to London Liverpool Street.

If you wish to extend your trip, you could consider combining this route with the Norfolk Coast Cycleway (komoot.com/collection/903776/hidden-history-and-seascapes-along-the-norfolk-coast-cycleway) which is another spectacular route through Norfolk.

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NCN 1

168 mi

4,175 ft

4,300 ft

Last updated: December 22, 2021

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Tours & Highlights

  • Map data © OpenStreetMap contributors

    Stage 1: Fakenham to Norwich – NCN 1

    Intermediate
    04:06
    37.0 mi
    9.0 mph
    775 ft
    850 ft
    Intermediate bike ride. Good fitness required. Mostly paved surfaces. Suitable for all skill levels.

    The first stage is a varied introduction to Norfolk’s diverse history. Today, you clock-up 37 miles (59.6 km) from Fakenham to Norwich.

    

    Traffic-free bike paths and gentle gradients (you never climb higher than 200 feet/60 m), mean you can enjoy a peaceful ride through the countryside.

    

    From Fakenham

    by Amy

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  • Intermediate
    01:46
    18.2 mi
    10.2 mph
    550 ft
    600 ft
    Intermediate bike ride. Good fitness required. Mostly paved surfaces. Suitable for all skill levels.

    Stage 2 is an 18.6-mile (30-km) ride from Norwich to Loddon that explores the wonderful Yare Valley and delves deeper into the Broads. Today, you can expect to see water in all its forms – from rivers to lakes and trickling streams.

    

    After some of Norwich’s historic highlights, head down King Street to

    by Amy

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  • Intermediate
    02:16
    24.2 mi
    10.7 mph
    525 ft
    500 ft
    Intermediate bike ride. Good fitness required. Mostly paved surfaces. Suitable for all skill levels.

    Stage 3 takes you to historical marinas, through the luscious Waveney Valley and to wonderful Norfolk towns as you ride 24.2 miles (39 km) from Loddon to Halesworth, crossing into Suffolk. As with every stage in this Collection, today is flat most of the way.

    

    Take the Mundham Road to leave Loddon and

    by Amy

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  • Intermediate
    02:04
    21.5 mi
    10.4 mph
    625 ft
    650 ft
    Intermediate bike ride. Good fitness required. Mostly paved surfaces. Suitable for all skill levels.

    Another countryside-filled ride awaits you on stage 4, which explores winding rivers, Norman castles and rural towns. Today’s leg takes you 25.4 miles (41 km) from Halesworth to Easton.

    

    Take the busy A144 to cross over the River Blythe on the outskirts of the town and turn right onto a quiet back road

    by Amy

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  • Intermediate
    03:35
    37.1 mi
    10.3 mph
    1,075 ft
    1,050 ft
    Intermediate bike ride. Good fitness required. Mostly paved surfaces. Suitable for all skill levels.

    Mighty rivers and historic cities combine on stage 5, which takes you ride 37 miles (59.6 km) from Easton to Hadleigh.

    

    To leave Easton, trace the edge of the River Deben and head into the open countryside. You pass Charsfield and Bredfield villages before riding into Woodbridge.

    

    Located on the banks

    by Amy

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  • Intermediate
    03:48
    38.7 mi
    10.2 mph
    900 ft
    950 ft
    Intermediate bike ride. Good fitness required. Mostly paved surfaces. Suitable for all skill levels.

    Your final day of adventure following the NCN 1 takes you from Hadleigh to Harwich on the North Sea.

    

    From Hadleigh, you loosely follow the River Bret along a rural lane as it winds through wide fields.

    

    A small climb brings you up Sulleys Hill before dropping down through Higham and into Stratford St Mary

    by Amy

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Collection Stats

  • Tours
    6
  • Distance
    177 mi
  • Duration
    17:36 h
  • Elevation
    4,400 ft4,575 ft

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