Your outdoor gym... the Broads National Park

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It’s here, the time of resolutions, the time of splashing the cash on gym memberships, yoga retreats and wellness courses.

You’ve hoovered the pine needles out of the skirting boards, you feel ill at the sight of mince pies and now that the evenings are no longer lit by twinkly fairy lights the thought of those tins of chocolate for sharing (which you didn’t share) are weighing heavy on your conscience. Fortunately there is a gym for mind, body and soul which won’t cost you a penny, the Broads National Park, so these are a few of the best footpaths for you to walk, run, or star-jump your way to a fitter and healthier 2018.

Marshy Meandering:

Length: 3 miles, Terrain: easy going (marshland with tracks and footpaths), Walk Name: Waveney Valley Walks – Carlton Marshes

Carlton Marshes is nestled in the Broads National Park’s southern half and is comprised of over 100 acres of grazing marsh, peat pools and fens. This three-mile meander will take you through a tapestry of wild flowers, cattle-grazed marshes and wet fens. It is the perfect habitat for a variety of wildlife such as water voles, marsh harriers and wintering wading birds. In the warmer months 15 varieties of dragonfly have been spotted there, including the rare Norfolk hawker, found exclusively in the Broads. Carlton Marshes is the perfect location for mind and soul with its restorative dose of meadow flowers and birds on the wing.

Southern marsh orchid © David Evans
Southern marsh orchid © David Evans (CC BY 2.0)

Railway Rambling:

Length: 5.8 miles, Terrain: 25% hard, 75% soft - kissing gates, stiles, pedestrian gates and steps, Walk Name: Bittern Line Walk Three, Hoveton to Wroxham

For picturesque Broad-side pumping of iron taking in vintage railway lines, riverside meadows and an ancient church in Belaugh, there is the Bittern line walk from Hoveton to Wroxham. This inter-village workout sees you pass post offices, pubs and tea rooms so is ideal for those who fancy a taste of the outdoors but within close distance of local amenities. Get the blood flowing to the whistle of the steam engine, and mix up your workout with a press-up at every stile!

The bittern line © Dongyi Liu
The Bittern Line © Dongyi Liu (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Weaving a Way:

Length: 18 miles, Terrain: country lanes, rural paths, farm tracks and field paths Walk Name: Weavers Way, Stalham to Acle

For those among us whose figgy pudding consumption knew no bounds on December 25th there is this 18-mile route which forms part of the Weavers’ Way. The route itself takes the participant past the Stalham Firehouse Museum, Sutton Mill and the River Thurne. It snakes its way through the village of Catfield, a well-known wildlife hot-spot and gives you plenty of time by the water’s edge. Whether you walk or run, the length of this route will help you feel healthier this January.

Poppies at St Edmunds Acle © Jeremy Halls
Poppies at St Edmunds Acle © Jeremy Halls (CC BY-SA 2.0)

So put down your debit card and step away from those gym doors. There are so many wonderful routes which take you through the glorious Broads National Park that you needn't go anywhere else. The fresh air, proximity to nature and routes of all lengths for all abilities means that 2018 could be your healthiest year yet.

For further walk ideas that take you through the Broads National Park, check out our walking routes and Norfolk County Council’s array of routes, complete with maps and instructions.