Peddars Way and Norfolk Coast PathThe Peddars Way and Norfolk Coast Path National Trail form a 93 mile trail across Norfolk and around the Norfolk coast. The Peddars Way runs for 47 miles from Knettishall Health in Suffolk to Holme-Next-The-Sea on the Norfolk Coast, carving like a knife through the remote agricultural lands of north east Norfolk as it marches inexorably towards the sea.

The Way was one of the earliest known Roman roads to be built in Norfolk. It formed part of an extensive network of routes created following the failed revolt of the Celtic leader Boudicca, allowing the Roman army fast access to the coast as well as all areas of Britain in case of further Celtic uprisings.

Over the centuries the Peddars Way has changed from a symbol of Roman might and oppression to an important trade route for pilgrims and drovers. In fact the name ‘Peddars Way’ did not come into common use until medieval times. Most of the route of the Peddars Way can still be traced today, and in some places the raised ‘agger’ of the original Roman Road can still be seen.

As the Peddars Way joins up with the Norfolk Coast Path at Holme-Next-The-Sea, the two trails have been linked and are usually walked together.

The Norfolk Coast Path is a 45 mile path which runs from Hunstanton to Cromer in Norfolk, hugging the coast line and passing by salt marshes that are a haven for wild birds, plus miles of golden sands. It is a modern trail, created by utilising a network of existing and newly created tracks.

The two trails were officially joined in 1986 in a ceremony at Holme-Next-The-Sea by HRH the Prince of Wales. In 1991 the trails were renamed the Peddars Way and Norfolk Coast Path National Trail.

Church at Little Cressingham, Peddars Way

Church at Little Cressingham, Peddars Way

How Tough is the Peddars Way and Norfolk Coast Path National Trail?

This National Trail is an ideal first long distance path, especially the Peddars Way as it is easy walking, following mainly good tracks and minor roads. Navigation is quite straightforward too as it is well signed and the path is usually obvious.

The Norfolk Coast Path is slightly more difficult as there are some hills and cliff paths to negotiate, but nothing too arduous. Again, it is well signed and navigation is easy.

How Long Will it Take Me ?

Some people have walked both trails in just three days, but if you would prefer to enjoy them at a more sedate pace, they can be comfortably completed over six or seven days. This should still allow you plenty of time for sight seeing and exploring.

The Peddars Way near Harpley Dams

The Peddars Way near Harpley Dams

What are the Main Highlights of the Trail?

Peddars Way

  • The Brecks area at the start of the Peddars Way is a unique landscape of forest and open healthland.
  • Look out for the Songline sculptures- these are a series of carved stone sculptures set along the Peddars Way, featuring words from the storyteller Hugh Lupton. Although they are fading and growing a covering of lichen the verses can still be made out and looking out for them gives the walk some added interest.
  • Castle Acre boasts not only the remains of a Norman castle, began in the 11th century by William de Warrene, but also the ruins of a Cluniac priory, swept away by Henry 8th’s Dissolution. There is a charge for entry to the priory but access to the castle remains are free and well worth a visit.

Norfolk Coast Path

  • Watch out for the remains of the once thriving sea port at Thornham. If you look carefully towards the mouth of the sea tributary you should be able to make out the weathered wooden posts that once formed jetties and piers
  • The trail passes through coastal areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty with sweeping views along the coast.
  • Keep an eye out for oystercatchers and other waders along the mud banks- you may even be lucky enough to spot an avocet.

How Do I Get to The Trail?

Getting to the Peddar’s Way can be a bit of a problem. Holme-Next-The-Sea is well served by the Coasthopper service, and Castle Acre and some of the larger villages just off route are accessible by public transport, but the start, at Knettishall Heath, is not. Fortunately, an excellent service exists in the Suffolk Links Breck Bus. This is an on demand bus service which must be booked up to a fortnight in advance. It will pick you up from Thetford train station and deposit you at Knettishall Heath.

The Brecks Bus runs from from 9am to 4pm Monday to Friday, but when I used it the driver warned me that there was a good chance that the service may fall victim to the government cuts, so it’s advisable to check the website to make sure it is still running before relying on it. Otherwise your best option would be a taxi from Thetford to Knettishall Heath.

Getting to and from the Norfolk Coast Path is much easier as the whole route is served by the excellent Coasthopper bus service- visit their website here for timetables.

The Norfolk Coast Path near Brancaster Staithe

The Norfolk Coast Path near Brancaster Staithe

Where Shall I Stay?
If you intend to use Bed and Breakfast establishments, there are very limited accommodation options on the Peddars Way and accommodation should be booked in advance in summer months. There is no accommodation directly on the trail between Castle Acre and Ringstead, although some of the villages a couple of miles off route do offer bed and breakfast establishments.

Places to stay are more plentiful in the more tourist geared coastal villages of the Norfolk Coast Path. A list of bed and breakfast accommodation can be found here.

If you intend to camp, a list of camp sites on or just off the trails can be found here.

Find out more about the Peddars Way and Norfolk Coast Path National Trail from the official trail website.

Have I Walked It?

I have so far walked the whole of the Peddars Way and half of the NCP- read about it below;

Preparation and equipment

Peddars Way Day 1

Peddars Way Day 2

Peddars Way Day 3

Norfolk Coast Path Day 1

Keep checking for updates as I may get round to finishing it!!

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