Peddars WaySo the decision was made… in July 2012 I was going to walk the Peddars Way and Norfolk Coast Path long distance trails– a total distance of 96 miles.

The Peddars Way follows the line of an ancient Roman road and runs from Knettishall Heath through the flat agricultural landscape of Norfolk, ending at the coast at Holme-next-the-Sea. By contrast, the Norfolk Coast Path (Henceforth to be known as NCP to save me valuable minutes of typing time… I am not an endurance typist!) is a newly created path and runs from Hunstanton to Cromer, hugging the sandy beaches, jagged cliffs and salt marshes of the Norfolk Coast. As the two paths meet at Holme-next-the-sea, they are usually walked together. Read about the Peddars Way and NCP in a little more detail in this post.

Why I Chose to Walk the Peddars Way and NCP

I decided on this adventure as a) it would be my first long distance experience and the walking is relatively easy and short (although this still didn’t go quite to plan…) and b) my Mum has a caravan at Wells-next-the-Sea, and the NCP runs practically by the door, so- free accommodation for a couple of nights.

How Long Does it Take to Walk?

My guidebook recommended around 6-8 days for both the Peddars Way and NCP but as I am a finely tuned endurance athlete (ha!) I decided I could cut that down into just five, figuring that I would have the long daylight hours to plod from one B & B to the next… The toughest decision involved splitting the mileage for the Peddars Way as accommodation is scarcer than on the NCP. In the end I stuck with the guidebook recommendation of three days;

Day 1– Knettishall Heath to Little Cressingham 14 ½ miles.
Day 2– Little Cressingham to Castle Acre- 12 ½ miles (this was my shortest day but I booked accommodation a little way out of Castle Acre, just off the route, so shortening the next day’s mileage a little)
Day 3– Castle Acre to Hunstanton- 22 miles. Most of the accommodation between Castle Acre and Ringstead is at least a mile or so off route which would have pushed up my overall mileage.

The decision to split the NCP was easier- Wells is roughly half way so I just decided to split it into two days;
Day 1– Hunstanton to Wells-next-the-Sea- 23 miles
Day 2– Wells-next-the-Sea to Cromer- 24 miles

Now that seems petty ambitious, but I had my secret weapon… staying in the caravan for the fourth night which meant that for the last and longest day’s walking I could ditch most of my stuff and effectively walk to Cromer with a day sack (although that’s not exactly how things turned out… but I get ahead of myself!)

Transport Along the Route

As I explained here, transport to the start of the Peddars Way at Knettishall Heath can be tricky. There is no public transport- but there is the wonderful little Brecks Bus! This is a fantastic service where you simply call them within a fortnight before you travel and book transport on demand from Thetford Station to Knettishall Heath. I think it cost me the princely sum of £1.80!

I was chatting with the lady bus driver who told me that the service basically exists to allow people access to walks, Day Centres, appointments etc within the Brecks area, but sadly like many local authorities the service is under constant threat of loss of funding, so if you intend to use it then check that it’s still running.

The NCP on the other hand is extremely well served by the marvellous  Coasthopper bus service. As it stops at all of the villages the route passes through, planning a day‘s walking is easy.

Accommodation I Used

I am a wimp who likes her little luxuries after a hard day on the trail, so opted for Bed and breakfast accommodation which averaged around £40 per night… a plodder has to take care of herself after all!

Guide Books I Used

I used two guide books which were both very useful;

Peddars Way and Norfolk Coast Path by Alexander Stewart. This contains detailed hand drawn maps for each stage with time guides, plus very comprehensive information on accommodation and places to eat along the route. I photocopied the maps, cut them out and put them in a plastic pouch that I could carry as I walked and at the end of each day just threw away the completed sections.

Peddars Way and Norfolk Coast Path (Official Trail Guide) by Bruce Robinson. This contained lots of history about the route, and some lovely photographs. The route is shown over Ordnance Survey maps.

I didn’t take any paper maps with me and didn’t need them- both routes are well signed and as long as you have a guide book it’s easy to stay on track.

So with the decision made, the train tickets brought and the route worked out, all that was left was to sort out what to take for my adventure!

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