With 7 rivers, and 125 miles of lock free navigable waterways, the Suffolk and Norfolk Broads make up the Broads National Park, home to some of the most hidden corners of unexplored England.
From the North Walsham and Dilham Canal, through Barton Broad the River Ant flows south to meet the River Bure.
Stop off and pick up some provisions at A G Meale & Sons before heading over to enjoy wonderful vistas across Barton Broad, reputedly where Admiral Nelson learnt to sail and the second largest of the Broads. The boardwalk will take you on a mysterious journey of discovery into a lost world which has remained isolated for half a century, to provide fantastic panoramic views over the broad.
If you’re looking to do something a little different, this part of the Norfolk Broads is a great place to start. At Neatishead, you will find the rather unusual RAF Air Defence Radar Museum telling the history of Air Defence and Radar from 1935 to date.
Just seven miles long, the River Thurne starts two miles from the coast near Martham Broad and flows south-west towards Ludham.
At Horsey, the Broads reach out towards the North Sea, where grey seals abound on the sand dunes from November to February. Access to the beach is on foot from Horsey Windpump and village, or via a track to a small car park at Horsey Gap. The Wind Energy Museum at Repps with Bastwick has over 200 years of wind power history on display. A distinctive part of that history, and the Norfolk landscape, is Thurne Mill.
Your visit would not be complete without a trip to Lathams of Potter Heigham. Synonymous with visitors, it is the biggest discount superstore in the Broads and sells absolutely everything from camping equipment to clothing.
As the summer season winds down, the waterways and broads become much quieter. There are no locks for you to navigate, so all you have to do is just sit back and enjoy the views of reed marshes, meadows and woodlands at a leisurely pace. Find yourself a secret fishing spot, encounter some of Britain’s rarest wildlife or moor up at one the idyllic riverside pubs along the way. Luxury motor cruisers and sailing yachts are available to hire, allowing you to fully explore the Northern or Southern Broads on a boating holiday. If you’re visiting for the day or staying on dry land, you can hire a day boat. They’re simple to drive and many are equipped with heaters should you notice a bit of a nip in the air.
Flowing from Aylsham, down through Wroxham, towards Acle.
You can get up close and cuddly with the friendly horses and donkeys at Redwings Horse Sanctuary before spending an afternoon exploring the thriving market town of Aylsham. From here, hop aboard a steam locomotive to Wroxham on the Bure Valley Railway, the longest 15-inch gauge railway in Britain.
Further along, Coltishall was once the centre of the malting industry and many Norfolk Wherries were built there. Today there are a number of riverside pubs and grassy picnic spots where you can relax and unwind.
A few miles away from the bustling hubs of the Norfolk Broads, Wroxham and Hoveton, you can meet talented makers in their craft studios at Wroxham Barns. Their Junior Farm has a daily programme of activities where you can groom, cuddle and bottle-feed the animals. Nearby, the beautiful Hoveton Hall Estate covers 620 acres of parkland and gardens. This fine Regency Hall was built between 1809-1812 and has been owned by the Buxton family since 1946. More than 120 acres of ancient woodland and a private broad awaits you at Fairhaven Woodland & Water Garden in South Walsham.
The Lower River Bure meanders south from Thurne, gently turning eastwards towards the bright lights of Great Yarmouth.
Acle sits on the edge of the Broads and the main rail line from Norwich to Great Yarmouth. Its name comes from ‘Oaks lea’, meaning a clearing in an oak forest. In Tudor times, hundreds of oaks were felled here for timber to construct the warships of Elizabeth I. Between the river and the sea, pretty towns and villages surround Filby, Rollesby and Ormesby Broads, none of which are accessible by boat. However, you can enjoy boat trips, wildlife and dining at The Waterside, nestled among the stunning surroundings of Rollesby Broad, a triple rated site of special scientific interest. Or, relax in the 250-year-old landscaped gardens at Thrigby Hall Wildlife Gardens, renowned for its collection of Asian Mammals, birds and reptiles.
Heading gently south just outside of Norwich and Great Yarmouth, the River Yare meets the sea at Gorleston.
The city of Norwich is a wonderful fusion of the old and the new. It is the most complete medieval city in the UK and is the only English city within a national park. Like any great city, its centre is easy to walk around and has a river at its heart.
Norwich boasts two cathedrals: the Roman Catholic Cathedral of St John the Baptist and Norwich Cathedral. Built more than 900 years ago, this awe-inspiring cathedral is open to visitors of all faiths and none. Set in beautiful grounds, it is a welcoming building with spectacular architecture, magnificent art and a fascinating history. Norwich also has the largest permanent undercover market in Europe, a flourishing arts and music scene, many museums and theatres and is rated in the Top 10 UK shopping destinations. Just 10 minutes from the city centre, Whitlingham Country Park at Trowse has nature trail walks & cycle trails. At Reedham, a vehicular chain ferry forms the only crossing point between the city and Great Yarmouth, saving users a journey of more than 30 miles.
Flowing from the sea at Lowestoft, the River Waveney winds gently through the pretty market towns of the southern Broads.
The Angles Way is a 93-mile walking trail, meandering its way through the Waveney Valley from Great Yarmouth to Thetford. You will find historic market towns, such as Beccles and Bungay and picturesque villages, dotted along the River Waveney. Stay on a secret floating hideaway at Hippersons Boatyard. Between May and September, you can enjoy a dip at Beccles Lido, a 30 metre, open air heated swimming pool.
With fabulous views across the Norfolk & Suffolk marshes and a wealth of on-park facilities, Waveney River Centre at Burgh St Peter is one of the Broads’ best kept secrets. Take the ferry river crossing and enjoy a circular walk through the scenic Carlton Marshes Nature Reserve to enjoy the Suffolk Broads at their best.
If you continue on to Oulton Broad, you can explore Nicholas Everitt Park, a beautiful open space alongside the broads, with tennis courts, bowling green, toilets, putting, trampolines, all-inclusive play area, museum, bandstand, boating lake, ponds and refreshments.
To discover more of unexplored England, make sure you Visit the Broads.