Jonathan Manning takes in the beautiful Broads on a quiet, flat ride northwards from Great Yarmouth Racecourse Club Campsite
With miles of sandy beach, endless amusements, candy floss and ice creams within easy reach, it’s fair to say that cycling isn’t the number one priority for holidaymakers at Great Yarmouth Racecourse Club Campsite. But for tourers who fancy a break from the seaside hullabaloo, this ride heads north up the coast, past a village called California (yes, really!) and flint-walled churches to the quieter marshes and wetlands of the Norfolk Broads.
These mudflats have the empty remoteness of moorland, although the waterways that slice, dice and drain them are as calm as canals, some wide enough for pleasure boats to moor along their banks. Much of this landscape has been reclaimed from the sea, and one of the many windmills that kept the water flowing out to the ocean is Horsey Windpump, a definite highlight of this ride.
Standing proud above an area once known as Devil’s Country because of its wild and lawless nature, the sails of this handsomely restored windmill can still turn thanks to a major restoration project carried out between 2016 and 2019. The wind pump, one of the largest in the Broads, dates from 1912, although there have been mills on the site since circa 1730-1740. Today, Horsey Windpump is run by the National Trust, and there’s a pretty tearoom where a sign declares: ‘Now it’s tea level - powered by tea, propelled by cake’, a mantra surely for any cyclist!
It’s an attractive place to stop, with an easy walk alongside Horsey Mere, although if you fancy a cuppa there’s an even more interesting cafe about a mile farther at the 1940s-themed Poppylands, where the hummingbird cake is highly recommended. Almost opposite Poppylands a bumpy gravel track heads down to Horsey Gap, a path carved through the windswept dunes to the coast. It’s a great place to dip your toes on a sunny day, and one of the best locations on the Norfolk coast to spot seals. Toes dried, this route retraces its steps all the way back to the Club campsite.
You can download this route from our dedicated Strava page here.
1 Leave Great Yarmouth Racecourse Club Campsite, cross the racecourse, and turn right at the roundabout. In 150m turn right along Fremantle Road, with the racecourse grandstands on the right. Continue to a T-junction.
2 800m – Turn right at the T-junction, using the cycle path on the righthand side of the road. Keep going to reach a set of traffic lights just before Caister and Great Yarmouth Golf Club. Cross the road and continue right along the cycle lane. Follow this road over three roundabouts to reach a set of traffic lights with Lidl on the left and a church on the right.
3 2.9km – Turn right at the traffic lights along Ormesby Road and continue to a roundabout.
4 5km– Go straight over the roundabout, signposted to Ormesby and continue for almost 2km to an Esso / Londis station on the right.
5 6.9km – Follow the bend to the left and turn right at the end of a small green, following the one-way sign. Then turn immediately left onto North Road and proceed to the T-junction. Turn right at the junction and continue to Hemsby.
6 9.4km – In the middle of Hemsby turn left by the Premier convenience store, signposted to Martham and Potter Heigham. In 1.5km, immediately after passing Hemsby town signs, turn right along Collis Lane, signposted to Somerton. Continue to a T-junction.
7 12.7km – Turn left at the junction, signposted to Cromer. Continue along this road to reach Horsey Windpump (National Trust windmill) and a little farther on Horsey Gap on the right side of the road. It’s a bumpy track down to the dunes, sand and seals.
8 From Horsey Gap retrace the same route to return to the Club campsite.
About the route
Start/finish: Great Yarmouth Racecourse Club Campsite, Jellicoe Road, Great Yarmouth NR30 4AU
Distance: 37.8km / 23.6 miles
Time: 2.5 hours
Level: Suitable for all cyclists and e-bikers – this is a flat route. Just be aware of the traffic in the early stages to Caister-on-Sea.
Terrain: Asphalt all the way, until the bumpy gravel track to Horsey Gap.
Landscape: Town, farmland, salt flats, Broads and beach.
Refreshments: Hirst’s Farm Shop & Café, Ormesby St Margaret; The King’s Head, Hemsby; The Lion, West Somerton; Horsey Windpump café; Poppylands tearoom