NCN Route 1 from King’s Lynn to Snettisham Beach

This article was published in 2017, in Newsletter 133.

Image as described adjacent Image as described adjacent
Image as described adjacent Image as described adjacent
Image as described adjacent Image as described adjacent

The Walks is a lovely historic 18th-century park in King’s Lynn next to the railway station. If you set off from there, and manage to find a safe way over the level crossing, you will be able to easily access a popular rail trail in excellent condition. It even has priority crossings of side roads.

After the nicely segregated path alongside the A1078 you gain access to the cycling ‘spine’ route of North Wootton, a combination of off-street paths and quiet back roads. Although mostly usable, some of this is a bit old-fashioned, threaded between featureless walls, cut up by some bizarre junction design, and marred by some truly terrible exclusionary barriers. And, sadly, this route may not be passable for people using tricycles or with children in a bakfiets, and only because of these cruel and unnecessary ‘A-frame’ barriers.

But then it turns back into a lovely path through parks and farmland, including a long ‘wildflower patch’ where we couldn’t help but stop to take a closer look.

The route passes right by Castle Rising, a 12th-century fortification that has been well restored and is open to visitors on most days. Right outside the village, the road has been very cleverly filtered so that the only traffic is people walking and cycling down a tree-lined road overlooking some spectacular countryside and farmland.

With public footpaths leading into the fields, and what appears to be the ruins of a church in the distance, we could have spent much longer exploring.

But we pressed onwards because the next section enters the Dersingham Bog National Nature Reserve. This involves following the A149 for about a mile, which sounds scary, until you arrive there and find a beautifully segregated pathway behind some massive trees. However, the eventual crossing of the A149, while far from the worst out there, was a bit too narrow and would probably be very difficult for cycles with trailers to navigate safely. The speeds are very high and we sat in there for a while waiting for a gap.

Image as described adjacent Image as described adjacent
Image as described adjacent Image as described adjacent
Image as described adjacent Image as described adjacent

From this point NCN 1 sticks to (mostly) quiet back roads, through the remainder of the nature reserve and past the Sandringham Estate, including the impressive Norwich Gates. It then follows the hilly sections through old farming villages, providing some great views.

The only public route to the beach is via Beach Road in Snettisham, and you’ll need to leave NCN 1 either at the village of Ingoldisthorpe or after passing Snettisham and backtracking slightly. The beach itself is relatively undeveloped, and if you’ve got a heavy-duty off-road bicycle there seems to be a rather sandy and rocky bridleway that would connect you to Hunstanton beach just about four miles up the shore. We were riding regular bicycles, however, so we opted to walk around a bit. On one side is the ocean, and on the other is a stunning vista over fields of windswept grassland. And we weren’t the only couple there enjoying the waves.

The tidal range is fairly large at this beach. We left Cambridge on the 13.30 train and arrived at the beach around 17.00, which just happened to correspond with high tide that day. I recommend checking the tide tables before you go, or else you may not find much ocean.

On our way back we rode the B1440 as far as Dersingham to avoid some of the hills and arrived at King’s Lynn in less than 90 minutes. It was a very easy day-trip, and had we left earlier we could have made it to Hunstanton or beyond.

Matthew Danish