Days out: Exploring the River Waveney

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The River Waveney from Geldeston to Oulton Broad

#5 in our series of Days out in the Broads

With miles of beautiful scenery, the River Waveney in the Southern Broads is the perfect place to explore. This full day itinerary will start and finish in the historic market town of Beccles. Beccles is full of history. The narrow streets and quaint architecture are home to lots of independent shops and caf├ęs. Much of the town’s architecture has a strong Flemish influence. The popular quayside, once a herring port, is now home to the myriad of cruisers which moor here.

Option 1 – Explore by boat

Enjoying a trip on a day boat at Beccles
Enjoying a trip on a day boat at Beccles

Just a mile up the road at Filby Broad, stop off for lunch at Filby Bridge Restaurant. This is a family run restaurant that serves lunch and evening meals, with beautiful views over the Trinity Broads. The Trinity Broads are three connected lakes which are landlocked and not connected to the main Broads network of rivers. They provide a haven of tranquillity and are perfect for fishing and enjoying nature and wildlife. It’s possible to hire a two-person rowing boat from Filby Broad Restaurant to explore the broad and experience the amazing scenery and wildlife found in Norfolk. Or just enjoy a spot of bird watching from your table.

After lunch, a 15-minute drive will take you into Great Yarmouth, one of the UK’s most popular resorts for an afternoon at the seaside. Great Yarmouth’s vibrant seafront harks back to the traditions of yesteryear, but remains upbeat, modern and fun, packed with family attractions and entertainment.

Option 2 – Explore by canoe or kayak

Kayaking with Hipperson's Boatyard
Kayaking with Hipperson's Boatyard

The famous golden mile runs between two fun-packed piers, stretching from the Pleasure Beach to North Beach. The sea has played a huge part in shaping Great Yarmouth. The town has the second most complete mediaeval town wall in England complete with several gate towers and was used to raise taxes on arrival or departure and to keep pirates out altogether. Nelson's monument is a stunning 44m (144 feet) memorial to Norfolk's most famous son, Admiral Lord Horatio Nelson who frequently sailed from the town in the 1800s.

Several museums in the town recall Great Yarmouth's maritime past and herring heyday which lasted until the mid 1900s, when Silver Darlings were fished and packed, employing a vast industry of workers. Employees were housed in Great Yarmouth's famous Rows, unique tightly packed together houses built onto narrow alleyways, with wealthy merchant houses at one end and bars and brothels at the other. In the early 1700s the first tourists came to take the waters at Great Yarmouth as hundreds of visitors flocked to the seaside to stroll along the esplanade and enjoy the warm weather. When the sun goes down there’s plenty of evening entertainment and colourful seafront illuminations to enjoy.

Option 3 – sit back and relax

The River Waveney at Beccles
The River Waveney at Beccles

Skippered boat trips are available on the River Waveney from Waveney River Tours at Oulton Broad, who also hire day boats. Waveney Stardust Trust provide fully accessible boat trips from Gillingham Dam. (Booking is essential.)

Once you’re back in Beccles Seek out the bell tower of St Michael’s church. The church dates from the 1500s and is unusual as its tower is separate from the rest of the building. The tower has three clock faces but not a fourth. The side without a clock is the one facing Norfolk, a reminder that the river is the boundary between Suffolk and Norfolk. Standing on a cliff overlooking the river, the bell tower rises an additional 97 feet (29.6m) and is thirty feet square (9m) at its base. The tower is open for visitors to climb to the top and take in the spectacular views!

Further along the river at Puddingmoor, if you have time enjoy a late afternoon dip at Beccles Lido. Beccles Lido is a heated outdoor swimming pool with separate heated toddler pools, sitting right next to the river. For the very brave hearted they are open for cold swims right throughout the year!

Whether you’ve spent the day exploring on the water by electric day boat, or silently paddled this beautiful stretch of river, no trip to Beccles would be complete without a trip to OakFired Pizza. Finish your day with award winning Neapolitan pizza cooked on a traditional woodfired oven. Only one of three restaurants in the UK accredited by the Azzociazione Verace Pizza Napoletana (AVPN) Naples, to serve True Neapolitan Pizza.

If you would like to complete this itinerary as part of a longer boating holiday, holiday cruisers can be booked from Pacific Cruisers in Chedgrave.

Places to stay nearby…