The National Park by train in October

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The kids are back at school, and although the summer days are behind us, the weather is still fairly mild. With fewer people around, the Broads is a much quieter place to visit right now, with many places easy to reach by train.

The start of autumn is a great time to experience the tranquillity of a slow walk or paddle, taking in the history and art history of Norwich. Equally though, if you’re a fan of exciting, theme-park fun, then you’ll likely enjoy these attractions, but without all the summertime queues.

Stand-up Paddleboarding (SUP)

SUP © James Bass

SUP is the fastest growing sport in the Broads, because it’s a relaxed way to explore the water at your own pace, without the need for expensive kit. It’s so popular in fact, you’ll probably need to hire your board ahead of your visit.

See locations below for where to hire your board and check out the Broads Authority’s guide to canoeing, kayaking and SUP. Ensure that your hirer issues you with a life jacket or floating tether.

Family fun

Ropes course at BeWILDerwood

Now that the kids are back at school, take advantage of more space at Pleasurewood hills, Bewilderderwood and Great Yarmouth Pleasure Beach. Check their websites for reduced opening hours and be aware that they close after 31 October.

Pleasurewood Hills Theme Park

Nothing beats a day out at the funfair. At Pleasurewood Hills you can Ride the Marble Madness rollercoaster or jump on board Wipeout, the tallest, fastest and most extreme rollercoaster in the East of England!

Nearest station: Lowestoft

BeWILDerwood

Set in a land of treehouses, twiggles, boggles and a crocklebog, children’s storybook characters inspired a theme park based around the natural world. A great day out of rope courses, ladders and immersive play areas for the whole family.

Bewilderwood is a short (2 mile) journey by bus or taxi from Hoveton and Wroxham Station.

Great Yarmouth Pleasure Beach

Spread over nine acres, Great Yarmouth Pleasure Beach offers family fun, white-knuckle rides to exhilarate and thrill and fun rides to keep the children happy for hours. Rides include the rollercoaster, dodgems and a log-flume water slide. Booking in advance only.
Nearest station: Great Yarmouth

Explore historic Norwich, along the River Wensum

Norwich is the only English city within a National Park. The River Wensum, which takes its name from Old English word for ‘winding’ runs through Norwich, from right outside the train station and offers a perfect route for slow walking, discovering the sights and history of the most complete medieval city in the UK.

Explore by paddle

Explore the Wensum by canoe or SUP at Pub and Paddle, from the Red Lion pub, SUP Norwich | Facebook
or Norwich paddleboard hire.

By foot

Formerly a yarn mill, then a flour mill and now converted flats, along the River Wensum © @spalton

Take a slow meander of just over a mile from Riverside, next to the newly-built flats by Carrow Road stadium, to Cow Tower and learn about the history of Norwich along the way.

On the opposite side of the river, you pass the huge Victorian brick Colman’s Mustard factory, built in 1854. Until it closed recently you could often catch the wafting smells of mint sauce on the breeze. The site at Paper Mill Yard, along the river until Carrow Bridge was all previously owned by the Colman’s family and at one point produced baby food and laundry detergent.

Then, continue past two ruined flint boom towers, built between 1294-1343 (known as the Devil’s Tower), on opposite sides of the river at Carrow Bridge, which formed part of the 12 gates and 40-towered city wall, built in the middle ages to defend the city.

The route then passes old textile and flour mills. During the 1500s Norwich housed early settlers known as 'strangers' from the continent. Many were weavers, fleeing religious persecution and the textile techniques they brought with them, allowed Norwich to thrive and become the textile capital of England at the time. Continue along the river past The Waterfront, Dragon Hall, Riverside pubs and restaurants.

Cross over the bridge at the train station, past Pull’s Ferry, where the Normans ferried stone from Caen in Normandy to construct Norwich Cathedral. Then, past the medieval Bishop Bridge, the site of the Kett’s Rebellion, and on to Cow Tower, an excellently preserved boom tower, along the ancient city walls.

Retrace the steps of John Crome, along the Wensum

Norwich River Afternoon – Nick Stone 2020. After John Crome, c1819. (Norfolk Museums Service NWHCM 1994.1.89)

This is a self-guided trail of Crome’s city. John Crome, was one of Britain’s great Romantic artists. Crome’s Norwich: 1821-2021 takes a closer look at the artist’s relationship with his native city, then and now, through the lens of contemporary photographer, Nick Stone. Nick has walked in the footsteps of John Crome, along river banks and city paths to revisit the locations which inspired him.

This walk is approximately 3 and half miles (5.5 kms), winding through the streets of Crome's Norwich. Starting at Upper King Street near Tombland, the route includes New Mills along the River Wensum.

Download the full accessible walk leaflet here.

About John Crome

Back of New Mills – Nick Stone, 2020. After John Crome, c.1814–1817. (Norfolk Museums Service NWHCM 1899.4.2)

John Crome was born in 1768 in The Griffin pub close to Norwich Cathedral. The son of a weaver, born at a time when the city was at the centre of an important international trade in textiles. In the 1780s over thirty different trades associated with textiles were located in the noisy and colourful area known as ‘Norwich Over the Water’, north of the River Wensum. The river formed the artery for the textile industry, and the warehouses, dyers’ premises and quays were well known to Crome and featured frequently in his works.

More about the history of Norwich.