Hunstanton is our fifth EXPERIENCE hub in Norfolk, alongside Fakenham, Swaffham, Hoveton and Cromer but we’ll be adding routes in Diss shortly.
Hunstanton - or Sunny Hunny to the fans of this traditional English seaside resort is blessed with beautiful beaches where you can watch spectacular sunsets melt into the ‘Wash’. In fact, this section of the North Sea that separates it from Lincolnshire makes it one of the few spots where you get a seaside sunset on the east coast.
Old Hunstanton just to the north has signs of settlement since Neolithic times 6000 years ago and provided the Saxon cross that now looks over the sloping green. However, New Hunstanton was created specifically as a holiday town in the 19th century, by local aristocrat Henry Le Strange who gets a bronze statue by the Saxon cross. The idea was a roaring success too, with the Lynn and Hunstanton Railway rapidly becoming one of the most profitable in the country as holidaymakers flocked to enjoy ‘Sunny Hunny’.
While all but the entrance building of the centrepiece pier (which had its own railway) has been lost to fire and storms in the past century, Hunstanton still has a theatre, fairground, aquarium and seal sanctuary as well as markets on Wednesdays and Sundays. Most importantly it still has the heart and lively soul of a proper holiday destination as well as being a gateway to some wonderful coastal, rural and Royal riding.
Burnham Market: Coast and Conde Nast (33 miles)
The longest of our Hunstanton routes is entirely on quiet roads and takes you eastwards to the village of Burnham Market which was voted one of the ’20 most beautiful villages in England’ by Conde Nast’s Traveller magazine. The route outwards swings you north past the old Lighthouse overlooking miles of glorious sandy beaches and through the pretty village of Old Hunstanton before rolling inland along the spine of the Wolds. While you can head straight to Burnham, we’ve added two loops north to the coast at Thornham and Burnham Deepdale to show you the unique nature of the north Norfolk coast. Then it’s up back over the downs (don’t worry, it’s Norfolk, you only climb just under 40m) to Burnham Market for refined refreshment. This is also the point where you can continue eastward towards Wells-next-the-Sea where you can pick up a route from the Cycling UK Experience Hub at Fakenham.
Our loop takes you back up onto the deliciously deserted back roads of the downs towards the much-storied village of Docking, then crossing the old Roman road of Peddars Way before completing the loop at Ringstead and retracing your wheel tracks back into Old and New Hunstanton.
Sandringham: Royals and Romans (32 miles)
This route loops south of Hunstanton to take in the majesty of Sandringham. Then its east past the Royal Stud, the house of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and prehistoric burial sites. There is an optional Roman road bridleway diversion past a working windmill before heading back through a tranquil wooded nature reserve and back up the coast. We’d definitely categorise the Roman road sections and Ringland Downs nature reserve as best on a gravel or mountain bike. They’re easy to divert around and the rest of the ride can be done on any sort of road bike. Quiet lanes, shallow slopes and plenty of interesting (and tasty) stop options make it great for riders of any experience, fitness or confidence too and it’s easy to shortcut at most points. Alternatively, use the fact it links into routes from another Cycling UK Experience Hub or the Sustrans National Cycle Network Route 1 to extend south or north as far as you want. It’d be very easy to bridge across onto the Burnham Market loop from Hunstanton if you fancy a bigger day out with some extra coastal calmness.
Hunstanton Ringstead Round: Give gravel a go (14 miles)
We’ve set up the shortest loop to give a real taste of the wonderful riding landscape inland from Sunny Hunny. This is also an opportunity to add some short, simple ‘gravel’ sections on farm, natural woodland and coastal tracks so you can give the fun and freedom of off-road riding a go. Despite being only 15 miles long, the loop still manages to pack in views of wide open sandy beaches, ancient chapels and churches, old lighthouses, Roman roads, a nature reserve and traditional seaside treats with the chance of a truly amazing sunset if you time your finish right. The short distance, shallow gradients and quiet roads make it suitable for riders of any level of fitness and experience. The off-road sections can still be taken carefully on a road bike too, so you don’t have to have specialist equipment, just a sense of adventure. If you find yourself with more time and legs than you expected it shares parts of both the longer Sandringham and Burnham Market routes so adding an extension south or east is easy.
Unfortunately, the Victorian Station is no longer live so the nearest railway link is Kings Lynn 16 miles/26km away to the south. That’s an hour on the bus but the ride up via Sandringham and Castle Rising is well worth doing if you’ve got time.
Kings Lynn is also the place to be heading for initially on the road too, before taking the A149 north to Hunstanton itself.
More cycling experiences in Kent, Cornwall and Norfolk
Hunstanton is just one of our highlighted locations that's perfect for cycling. Here's Cycling UK's full set of cycle-friendly hubs, with accredited facilities and promoted routes
EXPERIENCE is a €23.3 million project co-financed by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF, €16 million) through the Interreg VA France (Channel) England Programme 2014-2020, boosting visitor numbers in six pilot regions across England and France. This project will harness the experiential tourism trend to extend the season (October – March), generating 20 million new off-season visitors spending €1 billion across the Channel region by June 2023.