In the golden savannah of England’s past due summer season, we cycle wheel in groove via a box of stubble. The double line dust observe leads us around the empty box, its lower hay baled prime in sq. stacks. Overhead, cirrus clouds embellish the faded blue sky in refined sweeps like an artist’s brush stroke. This isn’t the Norfolk I anticipated. There are not any fens, seashores or large waterways. It looks like a homecoming.
I’m right here to check out the Rebel Manner – a 365km new bikepacking path throughout Norfolk. It’s been designed through Biking UK particularly with newcomers in thoughts. Which is a superb task actually, since I’ve by no means been bikepacking in my lifestyles and infrequently cycled off-road. The entire path makes a six day loop, beginning and completing in Norwich, however can simply be cut up in part at King’s Lynn. With just a lengthy weekend to spare, snatching a snappy spoil between operating weeks, we’ll be biking the clockwise part.
An hour’s teach journey from London and we’re packing baggage onto motorcycles out of doors Norwich station, in a position to head. Moderately behind schedule through swans at the line, our plans are already turning into fluid. However that’s how cycling holidays paintings; on a motorcycle, simply roll with it.
We journey on quiet nation lanes, covered prime with hedgerow: hawthorn, blackthorn, elder, ash. Historical oak bushes stand tall above them. The landscapes we move via blur right into a Zorn palette of pink bricks and terracotta tiles, ochre fields, flint-made partitions and sandy tracks. Weaving via a internet of again lanes and byways, we journey one minute enclosed, the following below a huge sky. There aren’t many hills in any respect and any tiredness is smoothed out through the delicate spice up of an e-bike. After an intense week of labor, I will really feel the strain falling away as I pedal.
The Rebel Manner weaves in combination websites of native historical past, but it surely’s refined. You don’t really feel such as you’re going dot to dot, forced to prevent and appreciate every web site of hobby in flip, like an all-inclusive sightseeing bus. The cultural historical past bureaucracy a backdrop that you simply transfer via – splashing throughout a ford into complete view of a Clunaic priory or casually biking below a portcullis into the village of Citadel Acre. But, for the curious, there are lots of layers to unpeel in the event you simplest step apart and see. We pause in an deserted church, reclaimed through oak and ivy, the empty stained glass window now forming an intricate body for the panorama past. Whilst we stand in its roofless shell, a head top cobble catches my eye: the unique grooves of an historic sea creature are captured within the flint.
The ancient core of this journey are the 2 eponymous rebellions. First, the Iceni rise up towards the invading Romans – we cycle alongside the Pye Highway that Boudicca and her tribe would have marched out alongside on their option to sack London. A lot later, in 1549, Robert Kett led a protest towards land enclosure from Kett’s Heights in Norwich. And even though I don’t really feel in particular rebellious as I journey, there’s undoubtedly one thing of that flavour in Biking UK’s paintings. In spite of everything, making a combined terrain path for cyclists is a continuation of those self same get entry to rights campaigned for way back.
On our 2nd day, the biking will get extra concerned. We spend lots of the morning on gravel tracks, dry and dusty. The uniform pines of Thetford Woodland shut in and we journey alongside wooded area tracks and hearth breaks, narrowing till we’re pedalling down singletrack within the woods. This, I realise, is bikepacking: the newness of driving the place I’d simplest ever walked sooner than. Ducking below timber, pedalling wildly throughout the bushes, whooping as I to find the rhythm within the pitch and slope of the path. None of it’s excessive in any sense, simply unfamiliar to anyone who normally cycles on tarmac. There may be deep dust and sand. I’m sluggish to begin with, cautiously navigating the brand new slip and slide in my wheels, however my pals at all times stay up for me.
Rather then terrain, I am getting the sense that bikepacking is ready making do with little, however no longer taking that minimalism too severely. Our bikepacking baggage are intentionally tiny, forcing us to take simplest the necessities. We aren’t tenting, so we don’t want a lot. The wedge-shaped compression baggage stand proud of below the saddle, balanced above the again wheel virtually through magic. Swish, environment friendly – but my extra skilled partners have Crocs or flip-flops strapped jauntily on most sensible with bungee wire. Via the tip of the weekend I’ve a steel mug, securely however irreverently strapped to mine. For emergency espresso stops, I guess. I take it off to drink from as we picnic within the woods.
The Rebel Manner is mapped out to move a number of retail outlets, cafes and lodging for all sensible wishes, so you’ll pick out and select your individual itinerary. Ours comes to pigs, rope swings and tanks. We upload in a consult with to a neighborhood brewery, whose startup tale strikes a chord in my memory of the movie Chocolat. Later, we upload on an additional gravel loop, unintentionally timing it for sundown. Dinner is in an 18th-century pub, with tables are compatible for a dinner party and partitions covered with cloth-bound books. We cave in into mattress at a close-by motel which welcomes cyclists.
After two days of bikepacking, I’m driving down an previous lane, lower in part through an A-road and entirely overgrown. My wheels bump over fractured tarmac buried deep below years of leaf mildew: a last seam of nature main us into King’s Lynn, via cascades of crab apples and blackberry timber. Coming out into the cul-de-sac of a contemporary property, we spot a motorcycle signal and apply it into the city – till in spite of everything we arrive on the estuary, pedalling alongside the marina in a contemporary breeze. After a celebratory drink at a handy riverside cafe, it’s only a brief journey to the teach station to go house.
Biking UK’s Sam Jones stated, “Bikepacking is largely simply stripped-down cycle traveling, normally performed off-road or on combined terrain. In the event you’re in need of time and taking a look to get some great benefits of time outside, in some ways it has the ease over trekking. You’re nonetheless travelling slowly sufficient to revel in the panorama you move via, but additionally in a position to hide higher distances permitting you to achieve remoted spots in a shorter time.
“It’s in point of fact an effective way to discover the British nation-state – however like every guests to the outside, Biking UK would urge bikepackers at all times to be thoughtful of others who are living, paintings and benefit from the nation-state, and above all to apply the Go away No Hint ethos.”
Listed here are some pointers for first time bikepackers:
- In the event you don’t learn about motorcycles, rent one from anyone who does. It’s an more uncomplicated option to get began than purchasing an entire new motorcycle.
- E-bikes aren’t essential, but when someone is concerned about being in the back of the crowd at all times, it indubitably is helping. It’s possible you’ll no longer even use it, however realizing you’ve were given a spice up if you wish to have it will possibly allay any fears.
- Pack gentle: you actually don’t want a lot – particularly in the event you’re staying in lodging and not going a long way from civilisation.
- Have a cross at off-road and feature a laugh. Worst involves worst, you’ll at all times get off and push!
Go back and forth necessities
The Rebel Manner begins at Norwich teach station. There are direct trains from London Liverpool Side road. Lengthy-stay parking could also be to be had close to the station.
For a complete and up to the moment record of cycle-friendly puts to stick alongside the Rebel Manner, see Biking UK’s reputable information: cyclinguk.org/rebellion-way
The information additionally features a complete narrative of the path, maps, steered itineraries and downloadable gpx recordsdata.
Be told extra about bikepacking through visiting: cyclinguk.org/bikepacking