Norfolk Passport

Top 5 | Sports in Norfolk

Let's get active! We're very lucky in Norfolk as we have the coast to do water sports and great conditions in the countryside for cycling and running.

Each year, many cyclists come to Norfolk enjoying wonderful days out touring the county or racing on the roads. It's unsurprising that more and more people take to this sport and come here to practice or compete. Of course the beautiful coastline is very inviting too and the sea with inlets are one of the best spots to sail and surf in the UK. 

We could easily come up with a top 10 list but we really want to inspire you to get involved in one sport and have a flying start!

(Image - The Glide Surf School)

Running

We've put the spotlight on North Norfolk because here you have quieter roads, fantastic tracks and trails, and a superb coastline. Best of all perhaps is that North Norfolk is fairly flat and pretty much wherever you are, you can head out of the door and have a great run through some wonderfully traffic-free lanes.

Now let's start with a big one. The coastal path is fantastic all along its 45 mile length. The highlights are the huge beach and pine woods at Holkham and the wonderful cliffs between Weybourne and Sheringham. Either will provide a truly memorable run – combine the latter with a sortie up into Sheringham Park or onto Kelling Heath for a surprisingly hilly run. 

Next, check out the woods just inland of Sheringham and Cromer for wonderful trails and useful undulations if you want to do some hill work (although Roman Camp at just over 300ft is the best we can offer for high altitude training!).

If you really want to test yourself, Reepham Runners have a ‘Summer 10k’ on 10 August 2018 and North Norfolk Beach Runners organise the Bakers and Larners of Holt 10k run on 29 October 2018. 

For extra motivation, why not join a running club? 

(Contribution by Jeremy Bolam, runner, cyclist and general endurance challenger.) 

Image is at Blickling Estate where weekly park runs (5k) are held. They also take place at Sheringham Park.

Surfing

Why surfing in Norfolk you think? Well, a deep low pressure area moves over the North Sea makes for favourable weather conditions as this sends down powerful swells. Watch the weather charts or check out ‘windguru’ for tides, low pressure systems and wind direction (just type in the location).

Let's get you started. The Glide Surf School at Cromer is open seven days a week in season, from April to the end of October. Individual and group lessons are available, with all the equipment provided. If you need any gear, the Cedar House Surf Shop has a full range of surfing accessories, hardware and clothing. 

So what happens? During a beginner lesson you will cover the basics of surfing, paddling the board, catching the waves, standing up on the board, wave selection, turning techniques, basic surf etiquette, ocean awareness, surf safety. Flat water training is also available with the use of ‘Indo balance boards’. 

The Surf School also provides lessons and equipment to teach Stand Up Paddleboarding (SUP) which is one of the fastest growing water sports in the world. Originating in Polynesia, it involves standing on a super wide, super long board and propelling yourself through the water using a long one bladed paddle.   The basics of balancing and positioning are straightforward to learn, and once you’ve mastered them, the paddle makes it as easy to drop down into a wave as it is to slip away and explore the beautiful north Norfolk coastline. It is a great activity to promote balance and core strength. 

If you have your own board try East Runton, park at the top of the slipway and see if the locals are about. Or Cromer, east of the Pier. Facing due north, it’s the most consistent beach to try. Surf's up!

(With thanks to Glide Surf School for information and beautiful images)

Cycling

Norfolk is such a joy to tour on a bicycle and everyone can find a trail that suits them as there are traffic-free paths, challenging off-road trails and long distance routes.

We highly recommend the scenic trail, from King’s Lynn to The Wash (15 miles). Enjoy a beautiful part of Norfolk with sections that are traffic-free. It takes you through the historic quarter of King’s Lynn, the village of Castle Rising, Sandringham Country Park to RSPB’s Snettisham Nature Reserve. 

Explore this route and more by reading our informative Top 5 cycling article and Norfolk County Council's website.

Sailing

Enjoy stunning unspoilt scenery in Norfolk along the coast, the Broads and the rivers.

There are sailing clubs right around the North West Norfolk coast, from Kings Lynn to Blakeney, and in the Norfolk Broads. Once a year there is North West Norfolk sailing week when boats come from all over the UK to sail in a week’s competition at Kings Lynn, Snettisham, Brancaster, Wells and Burnham Staithe Overy. This is an exciting experience and will no doubt spark your enthusiasm!

For example, the Brancaster Staithe Sailing Club is open between March and October each year. There are dinghies, cruisers and a good numbers of Hawk 20s, Cockles, Sharpies, and Laser 1s – something to suit everyone. Here you can just go out and enjoy the scenery and the wildlife. Sometimes there are races around Scolt Head Island which are great fun.

If you want to learn how to sail here are sailing schools:

All clubs are keen to teach you and help you to get better. 

(With contributions by Mark Foley, Brancaster Staithe Sailing Club member.)

Power kiting

Traditional kite flying is an iconic seaside image alongside ice cream vans and sand castles. However, head to Hunstanton or Brancaster and you will see a very different type of kite flying. 

Using a simple canopy kite (see image) 'power kiting' is the backbone of any kite related sport, taking place whilst standing on land which is where the basics of canopy control are learned. 

Landboarding puts you and your canopy onto a board with wheels and kitesurfing takes the canopy and you out onto the sea!

Head to Hunstanton Watersports or Kite Eze to try out their exhilarating range of canopy sports. Courses include theory with due attention given to site assessment and safety. Just beginning? Try a kitesurfing taster one day course learning the basics with not too much theory and loads of fun. 

For seasoned power kiters and those who are visiting Norfolk, check out Hunstanton Sailing Club’s excellent kiting guidelines. This is a must to find out about local conditions, etiquette and form.

As you can see there is lots to do and try out when you are in Norfolk. Enjoy being active and feeling revived after a run or a great day of sailing.

Need accommodation? Here are beautiful places to stay