Days Out: Exploring the Bure Valley

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Bure Valley

#3 in our series of Days out in the Broads

Leave the car behind and enjoy a day exploring Wroxham & Aylsham by steam, foot or pedal power.

hotel wroxham
Hotel Wroxham

Your day starts in the heart of the Broads National Park. Only eight miles from Norwich and 20 miles from Great Yarmouth, the two villages of Wroxham and Hoveton sit either side of the river Bure.  Bustling hubs all year round, full of places to eat, shops and an abundance of day boats and river trips, they are often referred to as the capital of the Broads.

Book an early table at Hotel Wroxham where you can enjoy breakfast on the terrace overlooking the water. The restaurant and stunning waterside terrace are open every day for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Watch the hustle and bustle of the day unfold as the hire boats go out and people start to arrive for their river trips.

bure valley railway
The Bure Valley Railway

After breakfast, wander the half a mile or so from the centre of Wroxham up to Hoveton station. Here, you can either jump aboard for a nostalgic trip by steam train on Norfolk’s longest narrow-gauge railway or join the Bure Valley path.

Steam trains operate regularly between the old market town of Aylsham and Wroxham. The Bure Valley Railway was built on the track bed of part of the former Great Eastern Railway and the nine-mile line runs through meadowland, ancient pastures and picturesque Broadland villages. The trip to Aylsham by train takes about 45 minutes.

family cycling
Enjoying a family cycle ride

Alternatively, it’s possible to walk one or both ways, or cycle the full 18-mile round trip to Aylsham, exploring the Bure Valley with the option to stop off at the pretty villages of Coltishall, Buxton and Brampton along the way. The Bure Valley Path is a 9-mile traffic free track running alongside the railway line from the station at Hoveton to Aylsham.

Sadly, at the time of writing, it’s not possible to take bikes onboard the trains and trains are no longer stopping between Wroxham and Aylsham, but please keep checking back as restrictions ease.

canoeing at coltishall
Canoeing on the River Bure

At Aylsham station, you’ll find lots of facilities including the Whistlestop CafĂ© and a shop stocking a wide range of railway themed souvenirs and gifts, as well as being a paradise for any model railway enthusiasts.

Leave the station and take in the historic market town of Aylsham. The prominent marketplace is surrounded by beautiful 18th century houses and reflects the town’s prosperity from the textile and cloth trade at the time.

A mile’s stroll from the marketplace will take you to Redwings Horse Sanctuary, home to almost 90 friendly horses and donkeys who now live there. They love visitors and you can get up close and cuddly every day between 10.30am - 4pm until the end of August.

roys supermarket
Roys of Wroxham

Only after you petted, stroked and patted all of the residents – you don’t want to miss anyone out – head back to Aylsham station and make your return journey to Wroxham by train, foot or pedal power.

Once there, what better way to end your day than with a bit of retail therapy.

The “World’s Largest Village Store”, Roys of Wroxham has been a family run business in Wroxham since 1895. Although Roys has stores throughout Norfolk and Suffolk it is synonymous with Wroxham where the company was born, and you will find no less than six Roys stores here!

Or why not have a browse at the latest creative pieces on offer at Riverside Art & Glass. The gallery exhibits sought-after collections of glass art, paintings, ceramics and woodwork from a wide variety of artists, many of them local, and the displays change regularly.