Rebellion Way: map and GPX file
Rebellion Way: map and GPX file
The Rebellion Way is a 232-mile / 373km cycling adventure around Norfolk. Meandering along a mix of quiet, mostly flat back roads, byways, cycle paths and bridleways under huge panoramic skies, it’s a fantastic introduction to multi-day, on- and off-road adventuring for anyone.
The Rebellion Way name comes from the fact that while this ancient county is now characterised by a relaxed, timeless, pastoral charm, it actually has a fascinatingly turbulent history from the Iron Age onwards. Exploring the stories, ancient sites, stunning vistas and thriving wildlife of this unique area enriches every mile of this leisurely but rewarding loop.
While the overall distance might seem large, there is minimal climbing on slopes that are never steep. The off-road sections are fast, non-technical and largely weather-resistant, so those miles come very easily. Norfolk’s weather is usually fairly mild and there are lots of places to stop and eat, drink, recharge or stay overnight on the route.
If you don’t have time to do the full Rebellion Way route in one go, there is also an option to cut across the middle between Stoke Holy Cross and Swaffham to create two shorter loops.
While it’s a still a surprisingly rewarding ride for experienced adventurers, the Rebellion Way has been specifically designed to be not just achievable but very enjoyable for riders of all levels.
Download the route guide
For the full route guide with more detailed maps, visit the Cycling UK online shop.
Contrary to popular perception, Norfolk isn’t totally flat, but it’s not far off. The route doesn’t climb above 100m at any point and when it does it’s almost always very gentle. While it can be affected by headwinds, a lot of the route is sheltered by trees and thick hedges so the pedalling is never painful.
In terms of what’s under your wheels, this is a mixed-surface route, but not a technical one. Most of the off-road surfaces are on hard-packed gravel that rides well in all weathers but some sections can be sticky or slippery if it’s been wet. There’s also a section of sand near King’s Lynn and a steeper off-road climb near Sheringham where you might need to push. We’ve highlighted those in the route notes and provided alternative road routes in case it’s been raining particularly hard.
Bike and kit
The non-technical, gently rolling nature of the off-road terrain and the sometimes scruffy road surfaces of the Rebellion Way make it perfect for a gravel bike, hybrid or touring bike with larger tyres. It will be totally fine on a mountain bike too if you want maximum comfort and confidence. Plenty of places to stop and recharge make it easy to keep an e-bike topped up. The route is largely compatible with a tricycle too, but we’ll highlight any pinches or gates which might be an issue for wider cycles.
In terms of bike equipment choice, there’s a lot of flint all the way round the route. That’s great if you’re a prehistoric person making sharp tools, but they can be hard on delicate tyres so take an extra tube and patch kit. There are several bike shops on or very close to the route, so you’re never far from a save.
While Norfolk’s position in the east of the country means it is generally blessed with better weather than the rest of the UK, it is still in the UK. That means things can get wet or windy quickly at any time of the year, so bring appropriate gear. The big skies mean you’ll normally have plenty of warning to get your jacket ready though, and there are lots of churches, pubs, hedges and woods for shelter.
The Rebellion Way is not a signposted route. However it overlaps in places with National Cycle Network route 1 and the Boudicca Way walking trail so in parts those signs can be followed. Thankfully the maze-like cycle route into King’s Lynn and then out again to Castle Rising and Sandringham is well signposted too.
Otherwise, joining up the most fascinating and forgotten parts of Norfolk while staying away from traffic inevitably means the route meanders in places and there are a couple of turns or trail entrances which are easily missed. That means we’d recommend using a GPS with good screen resolution and as comprehensive mapping as possible, as many parts of the route won’t show up on a ‘road map’. The video overview that covers the route will also highlight some of the tricky navigation spots (search for ‘Rebellion Way GuyKesTV’ on YouTube).
On a plus note, the Norfolk countryside is an absolute web of tiny lanes running in all directions, so if you do overshoot – or just want to dodge on off-road section or take a shortcut – then there will usually be several options.
We have directed the route through towns and villages to provide opportunities for frequent stops. Apart from King’s Lynn, midsummer Hunstanton and Norwich, they’re all very quiet and you’ll generally be able to bypass them easily if it’s complete quiet you’re after.
Watch out for the points where the route unavoidably crosses main roads: we’ve chosen traffic calmed or lower speed limit sections as much as possible, but the majority of the route is so quiet that seeing multiple vehicles again can be quite startling. Norfolk’s agricultural focus means you should be prepared to meet all sorts of weird and wonderful farm machinery which can be wider than the lanes themselves, so always take care .
Other parts to note are crossing the car park at Old Hunstanton, where free-range kids can sprint towards the beach as soon as car doors open. The shared use path behind Holkham Bay and the Bure Valley railway path can also be very busy with walkers and dogs at the weekend, and Sandringham and any of the National Trust estates have a high proportion of elderly visitors who might not hear you approaching, so remember to slow down and ring your bell or say hello.
It’s important to remember that the welcome cyclists receive in the countryside, the growth of facilities and the support from local authorities to create routes like these will always depend on how we behave. And while Norfolk seems idyllic and relaxed you will also be travelling through a hard-working agricultural landscape so please be an ambassador for us all.
- Ride safely, carefully and respectfully and within the limits of your skill and bike
- Say ‘hi’ and slow down when approaching other trail users, and stop if necessary Take special care to avoid startling horses – ask the rider if it’s all right for you to pass
- Please leave the few gates on the route exactly as you find them
- Take care when going through the handful of farmyards en route
- Don’t leave bikes in awkward places when you stop
- Support local businesses along the route to show the power of the ‘pedalling pound’ and strengthen the case for more future routes
- If you see another cyclist with a problem or a lost hiker, please stop and offer to help
- Take it easy and enjoy the journey – chasing Strava segments or fastest known times can cause accidents and create negative perceptions of cycling, which makes it harder to campaign for more off-road access in the future
Where to start and how to get there
The official start of the Rebellion Way Way is Norwich, with the GPX route starting at the railway station for convenience. However, you could also start in King’s Lynn or Thetford if you’re coming from the west or south.
There are railway stations at Thetford, King’s Lynn, Sheringham and Cromer which will get you back to Norwich (eventually) if you want to do the route in separate segments or need a bailout option.
There are long-stay car parks in King’s Lynn which permit multi-day stays. You can purchase a ROVER parking ticket which is valid for seven days, or just pay at the machine for the amount of time you would like to park for.