Dave Travers and I walked the original trail in 1999 and 2000. We took the Peddars Way on occasional Saturdays, and the North Norfolk Coast as a three-day excursion in June 2000. I came back to Cromer, alas sans Dave, in 2023, to continue to the finish (and on a few miles, to Lowestoft in Suffolk).
See how I walked the Peddars Way and Norfolk Coast Path
As well as the usual route information, this page give you information on bird life for the northern coastal stretches; Dave was a keen birder, and this is just a selection of what he saw.
Towns and villages
The point about the Peddars Way is that there aren’t any. Well one of any size directly on the path, Castle Acre, which is quite touristy cos of the, er, castle. There are a few more a short diversion away which as you see we sometimes made use of.
But along the coast there are more settlements, albeit punctuated by miles of glorious solitude. Hunstanton and Cromer, either end of the north coast section, are significant holiday resorts even now. In between Wells-next-the-Sea has an important little harbour and Sheringham is something of a twin to Cromer. Several other villages crop up, of which Blakeney is the most notable.
South of Cromer come a succession of more-or-less touristy villages and small towns, with Mundesley and Winterton-on-Sea the most important, before the increasingly built-up area from Hemsby and Caister-on-Sea to the port town of Great Yarmouth. Its neighbour Gorleston functions as Hove to its Brighton; just south of there is the trail’s end at Hopton.
There is a small car park at Knettishall Heath, the official start of the path, just inside Suffolk. The nearest town is Thetford, with trains on the Cambridge to Norwich line, four miles away. There is no bus service direct to the start of the walk.
Things don’t get better quickly. Stonebridge, where we had lunch on day 1, has two or three buses a day to Thetford and that’s nearly as good as it gets on the Peddars Way. Back in 2000 when we were at Castle Acre, it had a regular service to Swaffham; now, thanks to ‘austerity’ and its unrelenting drive in the service of rural isolation, it’s down to just two or three buses a day. Swaffham, not far off route, has reasonable services to King’s Lynn and East Dereham. Great Massingham, a mile to the east of the trail in the middle of our day three, and the A148 a little further north, both have about three buses a day between Fakenham and Kings Lynn.
The position is better on the Norfolk Coast. Hunstanton has a good bus service from King’s Lynn. Then there are decent bus services along the A149 Hunstanton to Cromer road, linking almost all the villages of the Path. You might be able to use them to be based in Wells next the Sea for the three or four days it takes to walk that part of the Path.
Continuing, Sheringham and Cromer both have a roughly hourly train service to Norwich, which I used both in 2010 and 2023. The coastal settlements south of Cromer all have reasonable bus services to Cromer, Great Yarmouth or North Walsham, and of course Great Yarmouth also has trains to Norwich (as does Lowestoft, with the added bonus of the East Suffolk line to Ipswich).
Start with the ‘Plan your visit’ section of the National Trail website, though notably (as of 2023) it barely shows anything south of Cromer.
In my coast walk with Dave, we had a couple of overnights, one in Burnham Overy Staithe and another in Cley – both seemed to close post-coronavirus, but there are plenty of alternatives, and remember you could use the coastal buses to have just one base to work from.
South of Cromer, I checked out my usual suspects of booking.com, AirBnB and the Google Maps accommodation function, settling on the former to book me the Poachers Pocket pub in Bacton – absolutely right on the trail – and the very decent Beaumont House B&B in Great Yarmouth.
Dave was a keen ornithologist, and he contributed these notes of some of the species seen along the coast. Thanks to Ash Midcalf for permission to use his scans of the mid 19th century work of Yorkshire vicar Rev Francis Orpen Morris, catalogued on birdcheck.co.uk