The best walks in the Broads National Park

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Whether you’re a magnificent meander-er or a happy hiker, the Broads National Park is a prime location for fantastic footpaths. Here are our top  walks with everything from a gentle stroll to a weekend expedition, complete with viewable and downloadable routes.

How Hill to St Benet's Abbey

Starts from: How Hill Nature Reserve, NR29 5PG
Length: 10.8km / 6.7miles

Walking at How Hill © Bill Smith
Walking at How Hill © Bill Smith

How Hill is a great place to start a walk, there is a car park and plenty of mooring for boats, making it an ideal starting point however you arrive. Walkers should walk out to How Hill Staithe, a public mooring place for boats and from here, head south along riverside path and out onto the riverbank.

Once on your way, you will pass Buttle Marsh, a newly created nature reserve which has scrapes and reed beds designed to attract rare bitterns. Eventually you'll reach Ludham Bridge, and then you can continue on to the remains of St Benet’s Abbey, the only monastic site in England that was not officially closed down by King Henry VIII.

Listen out for skylarks and warblers in the summer, and Bewick’s and whooper swans grazing the marshes in winter. Bats and owls are around for visits at dusk and at dawn birdsong fills the air.

Local knowledge: Check out Toad Hole Cottage, the original marshman’s cottage with all sorts of interesting artefacts from that way of life. And it’s free!

Rockland Ramble

Starts from: Rockland Staithe, NR14 7HP
Length: 8.9km / 5.5miles

The 5.5 mile Rockland Ramble starts near the New Inn Pub in Rockland, visiting Rockland Broad, walking along the River Yare and heading through varied meadow and farmland habitats. A relatively flat route that is suitable for many ages and fitness levels. The village is known for its historic church, St Mary's, which dates back to the 12th century and its many beautiful old buildings and cottages.

Local knowledge: The second half of the route is actually fairly hilly for Norfolk, but along the way it visits a lovely quintessential churchyard at St Andrew's Church, Claxton. There's a perfectly-located bench here to enjoy a sit down and warm drink whilst you rest up.

Irstead Staithe and Barton Boardwalk Circular

Starts from: Irstead Staithe, NR12 8XS
Length: 4.5km / 2.8miles

Get your walking boots on © Julian Claxton

At nearly 3 miles long, this route is fairly short but for its length it is one of the most beautiful, taking you out onto Barton Broad board walk that used to be a hotspot for reed cutters but is now protected purely for the wildlife. Allow yourself to be led through swampy woodland only to emerge at a clearing, looking out onto panoramic views of Barton Broad. You then continue onward towards Neatishead before returning to Irstead.

Local knowledge: Look out for the terns in the summer months; they have a particularly distinctive scream.

Beccles Marsh Trail

Starts from: Beccles Quay Car Park, NR34 9BB
Length: 7.5km / 4 miles

The Beccles Marsh Trail is a beautiful trail that's roughly 4 miles long and is rich with historic interest. The marsh at Beccles was gifted to the townspeople by Elizabeth I as a sign of recognition regarding their thriving wool trade. Nowadays there is less wool to be seen, but the main attractions are instead the wildflowers that blanket the dyke edge and rare varieties of birds and insects that can be spotted as you stroll. The route follows the River Waveney and heads back through the marshes, so can be damp underfoot if it has rained recently.

Local knowledge: There are three alternative routes that use the same site, so you can pick from the full walk at 5 miles or choose from a 3 mile or even 1 mile route. You can find a leaflet with these on the Visit Beccles website.

The Wherryman’s Way Long Distance Path

Starts at: Norwich Train Station (NR1 1EF) or Great Yarmouth Train Station (NR30 1SD)
Length: 59km / 36 miles

Wherryman's Way Chedgrave © Broads Authority
Wherryman's Way at Chedgrave © Broads Authority

This 35 mile walk is one of the shorter 'long distance trails' in Norfolk, following the course of the River Yare between Norwich and Great Yarmouth. It can be broken into sections by also be followed by train, bus or bicycle. Making the walk all the more unexpected are the way-markers along the route, which include sculptures, information panels and even audio points, all of which add something unexpected and fun to your journey. The route is a long one so may take multiple days to complete, or you could aim for a real challenge and do it in a day or less.

Local knowledge: If 35 miles sounds like more walking than you’ve got time for then you’ll be pleased to know that there are 12 shorter circular walks en-route.

Upton Marshes Circular

Starts from:  Eastwood Whelpton, NR13 6BL
Length: 8km / 5 miles

This is a special walk with a varied range of views and Broads landmarks to admire, including many of the local mills. It starts and ends near a historic Broads sailing boatyard, providing ample photo opportunities. The route also runs alongside Upton Fen and offers some great chances to spot wildlife and take in the views over the wild marshes.

Local knowledge: Look out for Palmer's Mill and Tall Mill en-route for a glimpse into the Broads historic past.

Perfect walking weather © Julian Claxton
Perfect walking weather © Julian Claxton

Walking in the summer is an absolute joy and definitely beats the ‘sludge trudge’ that winter walks so often become. Whatever you hanker for from a walk, be it long distance or a gentle meander, the Broads National Park has enough to keep you going all summer, and beyond…

Find more walking routes and walking activities.