Be inspired by the Broads National Park

Skip to section navigation

Whether you’re meandering along Elm Hill, where the houses lean on each other like a badly stacked bookshelf or you’re sailing the River Chet with a wavering water meadow sprawling before you, you are sure to succumb to the quietly creative space that is the Broads National Park. Here the River Wensum winds its way through a UNESCO City of Literature and the rivers course alongside the homes of many an artist and writer. There really is no holiday destination quite like the Broads for providing artistic inspiration, so here are our top scenes to be inspired by in the Broads National Park.

Sailing through fields

Gull and Sail boat © Jon Culver
Gull watches the boat above the reeds © Jon Culver (CC BY-NC 2.0)

No arty holiday in the Broads is complete without marvelling at a scene that you won’t find anywhere else in the UK. We are talking of course about the ghost ships! Well, they look a bit like ghost ships, this is the effect that is created by tall reeds. All over the Broads, views will appear to reveal white sails skirting across rural meadows, the main body of the vessel hidden by the height of the broad-side flora. They are a ghostly sight and remind us of days gone by when the only vessels to travel along these waterways had sails. There are few scenes more brush or penworthy than these, so head out on a walk by the Broads waterways armed with the tools of your trade, you won’t be disappointed!

Signed, sealed and delivered

Walk out to the place where the sea meets the sand and look for the pair of inky black eyes staring back at you, half obscured by the swell of the cold North Sea… The Broads waterways do not wind their way far from the sea and beaches near the Broads have a particular resident that is sure to inspire… the seal! You are sure to see one at Horsey beach, but Winterton and Great Yarmouth all offer a chance to be enchanted by these huge water beasts too. The sea in itself is a wonderful setting for inspiration, with its changing tides and closeness to the elements, but do look out for the seals whose look is so other worldly that sailors used to mistake them for mermaids!

Lights, camera, action

Norfolk Skies © Markheybo
Norfolk Skies © Markheybo (CC BY 2.0)

The Broads National Park is famous for its ‘big skies’ and as such there really is no place better to capture the changing light. Whether you’re a pastels or oils person, why not stake out a position to sit and admire the Broads landscape? You could create a collection of pieces each taking inspiration from the same place at a different time of day. See how the water changes with the sky, the wildlife that passes by, the human interactions. Finding that ‘special place’ that is uniquely yours and watching it develop with your creativity is a day well spent for any artist.

All things bright and beautiful

The All Saints Church in Catfield is one of a number of glorious local churches that pepper the Broads landscape and hark back to a time when East Anglia could have been the capital of England. All Saints in particular is sequestered away in the heart of rural Catfield and is so historic that it can be found in the Doomsday Book. Inside, there are wall paintings dating back to the 14th century, and the 15th-century rood screen is particularly beautiful. Fortunately, the original pews remain, so this is the perfect location for art and history lovers alike to pen a poem or bring out the watercolours. Make sure you take the time to walk around the graveyard and take in the beautiful stonemasonry exhibited on the headstones.

Opposites attract

Cathedral window © Paul Gover
Modern cathedral window © Paul Gover (CC BY 2.0)

The Broads National Park is the only National Park in the whole of England to incorporate a city within its bounds. This provides a terrific juxtaposition that would inspire any creative as the rural and the urban combine. Notice how willow trees and historic walls are offset by commuters on their way to work and a background noise of birdsong and traffic intertwine. Norwich Cathedral, The Victorian Skate Rink and The Forum are three of many curious architectural buildings which are likely to capture the imagination.

Whatever your expression of choice, the Broads National Park is the artist’s best friend, providing miles and miles of inspiration, be it in the water, the land or the sky. The combination of the built environment and agriculture, people and wildlife, offers a unique collection of inspirational prompts from which to glean moments of creativity.  For an artistic destination, the work from which you’ll treasure forever, choose the Broads National Park.