Our latest offering, the Shepherds Trail, links three of our partner campsites with a beautiful, off the beaten track cycle trail leading all the way from North Norfolk to Whitlingham Broad, with each leg of the journey ending with a relaxing sleep in a luxury Shepherds Hut.
Along the way, of course, are plenty of sights to see and places to eat, drink and rest, such as the Checkers Inn in Binham, the Hunworth Hunny Bell and The Pigs in Edgefield. The first trail leads from Deepdale Backpackers and Camping in North Norfolk to Top Farm Camping, near Aylsham and the second trail spans Marriotts Way from Aylsham right up to Whitlingham Broad Campsite.
The first thing to do was map the trail and also test it out on somebody who is not in peak physical condition. Enter Chief Combobulator Wong, who’s favourite activities include scotch eggs, sitting down and sitting down with one leg slightly crossed over the other, in order to rest that particular leg more than the other one. He would be accompanied by equally sedentary girlfriend Rachel, who had not ridden a bike in over 8 years.
This 35 mile trek passed through a number of attractive locations, from market towns to quaint villages (Including Lord Horatio Nelson’s own local pub), from big Norfolk skies to winding country lanes dappled with sunlight from the huge leafy canopies above. For an ex-smoker with the physical constitution of a diabetic fairy, it was actually a very doable ride- Some challenging uphill bits but mostly easy downhill stretches where you can shout “wheeeeee” and stick your bum up in the air to go faster.
With about two hours or so of dawdling in between, including a visit to the Priory Ruins at Binham, followed by a pint at the Checkers Inn, lunch and a beer at the Hunworth Hunny Bell and a general chill out under a big oak tree near Stody, the journey took us about six and a half hours. I may have had to sit on one of those doughnut shaped cushions for pregnant ladies the next day, but could have quite easily done the second part of the trail without even whinging! (Note- Cycling shorts with a build in cushion and a gel seat cover are a fantastic investment)
However to keep things fair, trialling the second leg of the journey was the founder and director Craig (A plump middle age man with liquid stilton coursing through his arteries) with his two young children (who have short legs, because they are children) aged 8 and ten. This beautiful off road trail, Marriott’s Way follows the path of an abandoned railway and tells the story along the way with a number of trail markers, monuments and quirky artworks forged from the remainders of the track.
This 26 mile trail runs between Aylsham and Norwich, looping through some fantastic traffic-free stretches. Although off-road, the ground is mostly flat and hard making it easy going for most.
Attracting a number of hikers, ramblers and cyclers of all ages throughout, this is a more sociable trail and passes straight through the Norwich- a perfect opportunity to lock the bikes and explore the fine city! However, after pushing on, they made the journey in 6 hours, arriving at a cosy shepherds hut in Whitlingham Broad.
The Shepherds Trail is now available for bookings and starts at £60 a night per person. We also include a trail map, deal with all the bookings, transfer your kit to your destination and provide an SOS service- Just for peace of mind. To book, call us on 01603 397777.
Chief Combobulator Wong. While the rest of the team gallivant and build Shepherds Huts, I sit here and combobulate.