Migratory birds fly above green headlands and rocky coastlines; sand dunes merge into the crashing waves of the North Sea; ancient cathedral spires pierce city skylines; country lanes twist through layered hilltops. With diverse nature and history, flat lanes, and rural idyll, the East of England is perfect to explore from your saddle.
This Collection guides you 218.7 miles (352 km) from Hull to Fakenham, discovering the beautiful countryside and towns along the way. Although the official Sustrans route runs 202 miles (325 km), I’ve included a few small detours to interesting sites nearby. You’ll discover the East of England in seven stages, ranging in distance from 21.5 to 38.4 miles (34.7 to 61.8 km). Of course, you can also feel free to lengthen or shorten the routes.
Aside from a hillier section through the Lincolnshire Wolds, this adventure is mostly flat making it a great choice for any ability. You climb no more than 1,181 feet (360 m) in one day and most of the stages have less than 328 feet (100 m) of elevation gain.
You explore the rich counties of Lincolnshire and Norfolk following the National Cycle Network 1 and 65 most of the way. You ride along a network of country lanes and traffic-free paths, such as the historic Water Railway Cycle Route, allowing you to enjoy the rural scenes away from traffic. However, although you ride on cycle paths around 20% of the time, you cannot avoid some busier sections through towns and cities. Any bike is suitable for this adventure.
The coastal counties of Lincolnshire and Norfolk are brimming with history stretching from Norman invasion to pirate pillaging and beyond. On this route, you can visit the magnificent Lincoln Cathedral, explore 12th-century abbeys and medieval castles, marvel at Sandringham House and Gardens, the Queen’s favourite country retreat, and enjoy a slower pace of life at historic harbours.
Your bike will also take you to spectacular nature spots. You can watch wading and migratory birds flock to the Snettisham Nature Reserve on the Norfolk coast, enjoy a picnic in front of the colourful striped cliffs of Hunstanton, and work up a sweat cycling through the hills of the Lincolnshire Wolds. There are plenty of opportunities to swim in the sea and relax on the beach, too.
Each stage ends in a town, village, or city, with accommodation options and places to grab a bite to eat. The area also has a number of campsites if you prefer to sleep outdoors. You are never far from a pub, shop, or cafe on this route but it’s still worth packing a few snacks in your panniers.
The start of your adventure in Hull is easy to reach by train. Unfortunately, it is slightly harder to return home from Fakenham as the town has no station. Here, you can either backpedal to King’s Lynn (22.4 miles/36 km) or continue to Norwich (30 miles/48.2 km). Both towns have train connections.
This route makes up the northern leg of the Hull to Harwich route through the East. You can find more information on the southern sections, here: komoot.com/collection/940635/flat-lanes-green-fields-cycling-the-ncn-1-from-fakenham-to-harwich
Although the official route begins from the Humber Bridge, I’ve started this Collection from Hull train station, where you are likely to kick off your journey. From Hull, stage 1 takes you 25.6 miles (41.3 km) to Great Limber. A thriving port city on the Humber Estuary, Hull has lots of sites to discover ranging from the historic town centre to the marina and The Deep aquarium. From the city centre, you follow the Trans Pennine Trail and NCN 1 to the Humber Bridge. Traffic is unavoidable as you navigate the streets out of Hull, but cycle lanes should ensure it goes smoothly. Your adventure gets going in earnest crossing the magnificent bridge over the Humber Estuary from Yorkshire to Lincolnshire. On the other side, you ride through Barton-Upon-Humber, your last chance to get snacks or a bite to eat before the end of the stage.Next, you join a lane through the countryside. Surrounded by peaceful nature and sleepy farms, you can enjoy the relatively flat landscapes from your saddle. You cross under the A180, ride a short section along the A18, and pedal through the small village of Melton Ross which has some holiday accommodation if you fancy stopping here. High hedgerows and trees hug the road on the final leg around Hendale Wood and into Great Limber. This small village on the edge of the Brocklesby Estate has rural idyll in abundance. Accommodation is limited, but you will find a comfortable room and meal in the New Inn Hotel. There’s also a Moroccon restaurant just down the road.
Continuing along the NCN 1, stage 2 takes you further through the Lincolnshire Wolds. Today, you clock up 36.1 miles (58.1 km) from Great Limber to Lincoln. Tuck into a big breakfast before you leave as your day begins with some climbs in the Lincolnshire Wolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB). Running parallel to the North Sea, these hills are a wonderful expanse of rolling green with views over flat fens and salt marshes. If long climbs make you sweat, fear not, for the Wolds are gentle, with a highest point of 531 feet (162 m).Following lanes, you ride through this landscape, crossing Riby and Grimsby Road and arriving in Swallow, a tiny village on the edge of the Wolds.Next, ride through Beelsby village, past Croxby Pond and All Saints Church. Aside from the odd ancient churchyard, forests and hills, you can enjoy the pretty countryside in solitude. Your longest climb of the day then brings you down into Walesby and Market Rasen on the other side. Nestled on the banks of the River Rasen, this town offers the first opportunity for a welcomed break. After all that climbing, you’ll probably need it. There are loads of cafes, bars and restaurants in the historic town centre.Re-fuelled and rearing to go, take the B1202 out of town. Just after Linwood, you veer off onto a country lane back into the rural idyll. The remainder of stage 2 takes you through farmland and the quaint villages of Stanton by Langworth, Scothern, and Nettleham before joining the main road into Lincoln. Take care here, especially during rush hour.Lincoln is a wonderful city with a wealth of history to explore. The spectacular cathedral and castle walls and historic centre are well worth a visit. Amongst the cobbled streets and blank and white buildings, there are plenty of restaurants, cafes, shops and accommodation options.
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Stage 3 takes you 35.1 miles (56.5 km) from Lincoln to Boston. With just 262 feet (80 m) of climbing, your legs can enjoy a flat ride the whole way.Follow the Water Rail Way traffic-free path between the River Witham and the South Delph to leave the Lincoln centre. Out of the city, you are greeted with wonderful views over the river as it meanders through the fens landscapes. You ride along the former railway line for 9.3 miles (15 km) taking a left turn into Bardney. The route actually splits here with two options: continue along the river or turn left. Both are similar distances. If you take the left you have a chance to stock up on snacks at the shop and cafe in the village. You will also visit Tupholme Abbey before rejoining the riverside path just after Southrey. In Martin Dales, you cross over the river and continue to trace its edges on a quiet lane, cycling through lush farms and meadows. You pass through Dogdyke and Chapel Hill villages before arriving in Boston, your final stop. The port town of Boston is known for its striking church which you may already have spotted on the horizon. It may be lesser-known than the American city of the same name, but it is no less interesting. In fact, settlers from the town named Boston, Massachusetts after their hometown. There is a range of accommodation, as well as shops, restaurants, and historical sites.
Today, you can enjoy another flat ride through wonderful nature and centuries of history. From Boston, you ride 23.3 miles (37.6 km) from to Holbeach taking in fascinating sites along the way. The Haven River guides you to the outskirts of Boston. Take care on the A16 roundabout, where you escape the traffic on a quiet country lane passing Wybert’s Castle and skirting around Frampton Marsh Nature Reserve. It’s worth stopping here to explore the reserve, which is home to many bird species. You continue to wiggle through wide fields and farmland, passing close to Moulton Marsh Nature Reserve on the banks of the River Welland. Cycle along the river for a short while before veering through the fields once more. Next, ride through Holbeach St Marks and through the green countryside before arriving in Holbeach, marking the end of stage 4. Holbeach is a market town with history dating as far back as the Roman times. In the town, you can visit the Prime Meridian line, a geographical reference used by ships for many centuries. You will find everything you need for a comfortable stay including accommodation, cafes, restaurants, and shops.
From Holbeach, today’s ride crosses into Norfolk to finish in King’s Lynn. You ride along flat lanes through wide fields and luscious countryside.Take Spalding Lane to leave the centre of Holbeach and turn right onto a lane. The first stretch wiggles through rural landscapes, passing quiet villages where you can stop for a coffee or explore ancient churchyards. The villages of Fleet Hargate, Gedney, and Tydd St Mary lie en route, each with a pub, tea room, or even strawberry picking fields. Continuing on quiet roads, you pass through the villages of Tydd St Giles, Newton and Leverington before arriving in Wisbech, the first town of the day. Known as the ‘Capital of the Fens’, Wisbech is an inland port market town with plenty to explore. You can stop at Elgood’s Brewery for a pint, stroll along the River Nene or learn more about the region’s diverse history at the Wisbech and Fenland Museum. When you are ready, hop back on your saddle because more glorious countryside and quaint villages await. You ride through West Walton and Walton Highway, marking your arrival in Norfolk, and cross under the A47. Next, wiggle along lanes as they twist through farmland. In the village of Wiggenhall st Germans, you meet the Great Ouse River, where you can enjoy refreshments overlooking the river at the pub. Shortly after leaving the village, you join a traffic-free path along the water’s edge as it flows into King’s Lynn, your final stop. With a rich Hanseatic history, this thriving port town has plenty of historical sites, as well as entertainment and shopping options and a range of accommodation.
Impressive medieval castles, the royal Sandringham House and Gardens, golden beaches and coastal wildlife – stage 6 showcases the diverse nature and history of Norfolk.Today, you cycle 22.5 miles (36.2 km) from King’s Lynn to Huntantston. With just 557 feet (170 m) of elevation gain, it's a gentle ride with plenty of time to explore the sites en route.The first 4.3 miles (7 km) take you through residential areas of North Lynn, and South and North Wootton, where you meet the countryside again.A short ride later, Castle Rising, an impressive medieval fortification in a village of the same name, lies en route. Dating back to the 12th century, the beautiful ruins have witnessed centuries of fascinating history. Next, cross over Babingley River and join a traffic-free path parallel to the A149. A lane then takes you into Sandringham Estate, a wonderful country house and gardens owned by the Queen. Lying within the Norfolk Coast AONB, you can easily lose hours exploring the sprawling parklands and surrounding nature here.The official route runs from Sandringham to Sedgeford and Ringstead. However, from Sandringham, I recommend taking a detour which runs parallel to the official route to visit some beautiful nature spots.If you are riding in autumn, keep one eye on the sky as thousands of birds flock to the coast at this time of year. Snettisham Nature Reserve is a great place to spot rare and wonderful wildlife. Next, head back inland and skirt around Snettisham. The final leg takes you past Heacham Park and into Hunstanton. Here, you can relax on the beach with a portion of fish and chips and watch the sunset before setting into your accommodation for the night.
Your final day of adventure explores more of the wonderful Norfolk Coast AONB as you ride 29.7 miles (47.8 km) from Hunstanton to Fakenham. After visiting the remarkable striped cliffs, hop on your saddle to rejoin the official route in the village of Ringstead. You follow a country lane that gently rises and falls through the countryside. After 11.8 miles (19 km) of peaceful landscapes, you visit two of the seven ‘Norfolk Burnhams’, a collection of villages that are featured in the Domesday Book of 1086, Burnham Market and Burnham Thorpe. Shortly after, you turn left into Holkham Parklands, where acres of rolling fields and ancient trees line your way. It’s worth stopping to explore Holkham Hall too. There’s a cafe next to the house to stop for refreshments. Next, cross the A149 and you’ll arrive at a long stretch of beach sandwiched between woodland and the crashing waves of the North Sea. This is the perfect place to whittle away a few hours, swimming and relaxing on the sand. Trace the water’s edge, past a caravan park and golf course into Wells-next-the-Sea, a popular holiday destination with a lovely port. From the town, take a lane back into the countryside, passing through Wighton and crossing the River Stiffkey. You loosely trace the river as it flows through Great and Little Walsingham and North Barsham.The final leg continues through the countryside and into Fakenham marking the end of your journey. An historic market town, Fakenham has lots to see and do. To return home, you can catch the train to Norwich, which has connections across the UK. Alternatively, if you still have some miles left in your legs, you can continue on to Harwich – komoot.com/collection/940635/flat-lanes-green-fields-cycling-the-ncn-1-from-fakenham-to-harwich