The Norfolk Broads is a National Park of waterways, lakes, marshes, old mills, thatched cottages, ancient churches and rare wildlife – almost-hidden in the East of England. Since Victorian times it’s been popular for tranquil holidays, boating, fishing and rambling.
It used to be a mystery how the Broads were formed. An agricultural society 900-year ago made Norfolk the most populated area in Britain. For two-centuries peat was dug for fuel, leaving quarries that filled with water from rising sea levels. Further flooding of the flat farmland created useful transportation throughout the 16th-century. Boosting commerce to make Norwich the second largest city after London – with wool, weaving and agriculture exported globally from the port of Great Yarmouth.
I really appreciate cruising on the Broads after being sardined in Chinese cities where every inch is a premium. The wide blue skies and late spring evenings couldn’t be more different to the urban grey.
Last week we took Rosey further than ever before. From Wroxham to Norwich – 15-minutes by car: 10-hours by boat! First night’s mooring on the River Bure was by St Benets Abbey near Ludham – ruins of a 9th-century Benedictine monastery. The BBQ was a problem because of the cold.
From there we pasted Yarmouth and along Braydon Water to Reedham. Everyone loves this village with its three old pubs, swing railway-bridge and ferry. Tall reeds both sides of the river, marshes to the left. Then further along the Yare to the Ferry House Inn, Surlingham – a farmhouse pub with lawned garden and Adnams Ale, beautiful mooring for the night.
From there it’s a little over an hour to Norwich – where disappointingly we couldn’t go further than Thorpe St Andrew because of 6-foot clearance on the bridges. For Dentist’s birthday we took the frighteningly-narrow nearby River Chet to Loddon. Five borings pubs! Our last night was at Acle, after waiting for the tide and a cup of tea outside the Lord Nelson at Reedham.
For anyone considering a river trip to the Southern Broads, it’s best to cross Braydon Water an hour after low tide at Yarmouth. This gives good bridge clearances and the least current. Distances are about 10-miles Wroxham to St Benets; 11-miles Acle to Yarmouth; 10-miles Yarmouth to Reedham, and 17-miles Reedham to Norwich. Diesel was about £80. Boat hire is readily available at Wroxham, Stalham or Horning.