Riding the Rebellion Way

Early one Saturday morning in May 2024 I headed off from my North Walsham home to ride the Rebellion Way, a 373km (232 miles) clockwise tour of Norfolk on, let's say, less traveled lanes and tracks. The official route starts and ends at Norwich railway station, but I joined the route at Aylsham - adding around 17km to the journey. Cycling UK devised the route, and did a very fine job of it. To read more details on it, visit Rebellion Way: map and GPX file on Cycling UK.

For me this was a one-day challenge, so my emphasis was on speed and short stops instead of the recommended multi-day sightseeing and exploration. I did however have a bike-mounted camera rolling at various points, and the video below goes a long way to illustrate the sorts of terrain that you will encounter if you decide to take on the Rebellion Way yourself.

My setup

I rode my Orro Terra gravel bike, on Kinetic K1 wheels and Challenge tyres. With the Chicane tyre on the front and an old baby Limus on the rear (both inflated quite high to around 40psi) I had a reasonable combination of off-road grip and on-road speed. A top-tube bag contained tools, snacks and first aid basics, plus a saddle bag for spare tubes.

Rebellion Way in a day; hard work with all the sand and gravel #stages

Ride on 2024-05-11 03:52:45, at

Gear: Orro

Misty start and chilly end, with blue skies for the middle 12 hrs ☀️? This is a truly amazing route, although I'd strongly recommend taking 2 or more days on it!

391km in 15:24:02

Average speed25.4 kmh
Max speed62.8 kmh
Average heart rate138 bpm
Average power179 Watts
Elevation gain2436 metres

Read more

Aylsham - Norwich - Caistor

The main feature of this leg is the Bure Valley Railway path between Aylsham and Hoveton. It's very flat and quite sheltered, but is very narrow in places - so you need to keep your wits about you. Next up, the tracks and lanes heading down to Mousehold Heath are fine, but the route through Norwich to the railway station is a bit fiddly. South of Norwich, keep a sharp eye out for the old Roman fort if you want to stop there; it's not obvious from the roadside.

Wacton - Diss - Thetford

Lots of nice lanes and dirt paths. My only problem was Wacton Common - twice I managed to lose the path, finding myself on very bumpy grass! There are several big roads around Thetford, but the route used quiet trails - with just a couple of crossing points.

Thetford Forest - Swaffham - W Norfolk

The paths through Thetford forest are more challenging than they might appear on paper. It might be flat but it's very grippy with all the dirt, gravel and sand, and very bumpy & rutted in places. It's hot, tedious, dirty work! The lanes around Swaffham gave some respite, but after Castle Acre there were plenty of off-road sectors and increasingly lumpy terrain to deal with.

King's Lynn - NW Norfolk

The smooth paths into King's Lynn were quite welcome, and the old town (next to the Great Ouse) is very charming. It's a very busy town though, so expect to get held up repeatedly by traffic! Note that it gets very rural after King's Lynn, with not much in the way of shops (or even pubs) until Hunstanton, so get stocked up. Hunstanton itself is a nice tourist town overlooking the North Sea; an ideal rest point if you need it. After this the roads become quite rolling; nothing too challenging, but enough to slow you down.

Holkham - Sheringham - Aylsham

You get to ride through three estates (Holkham, Felbrigg, Blickling) and right past the front doors of their respective Halls. All very nice, and the drop into Sheringham - through Upper Sheringham - is great. Just be warned that the few miles after Sheringham is quite difficult, including a steep off-road climb up to the top of Beacon Hill.


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About the author

My name is John Swindells and I'm a keen recreational cyclist with a preference for long one-day rides. I've also previously dabbled in time trialling and cyclo-cross. See more of what I get up to on Strava!

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