What are the Norfolk Broads?

The Norfolk Broads are over 200-miles of shallow rivers and lakes, two-thirds being navigable. They are located in Norfolk and Suffolk, in the East of England, and a major tourist destination since 1878.

Norfolk BroadsThe Broads is close to the coast and boasts many traditional villages and small market towns, along with hundreds of thatched cottages, windmills, and old turreted churches.

It’s fantastic for an outdoor holiday because of the many walking and cycling routes to explore.

The area is like going back 200-years, with lots of pubs and other buildings dating up to 900-years old.

If you visit, why not stay in a cottage by the river, like Bure Cottage, or hire a boat to live aboard for your holiday.


Until the 1960s, people thought the broads were manmade. Farming ensured Norfolk the most densely populated area in Britain 900-years ago. All these people had to keep warm, so with a shortage of timer, peat was dug for fuel.

windmillandboatThis continued for 200-years, resulting in quarries gradually filling with water as sea levels rose. Regular flooding stopped peat extraction, and as these holes filled, over 200 km of navigable lakes and rivers formed – providing channels of transportation to boost commerce throughout the 16th-century.


Norwich became the second largest city after London, with its goods of wool, weaving and agricultural produce exported throughout the world from the port of Great Yarmouth.


Overflowing of these lakes and rivers created what is known as “fens”, consisting of water and reed marshland. Centuries later, these were drained for grazing cattle - using an intricate system of dykes.


About 200-years ago farmers started using wind pumps to drain the marshes by pumping water along the dykes and back up into the rivers. Steam and diesel replaced wind, and now electric pumps are used. Most “windmills” in Norfolk, are really wind pumps, never intended for milling.


Stay at Bure Cottage by the river in Wroxham - for details click here.

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