Enjoy the Norfolk Broads at your own pace from the comfort of a luxury cruiser
Take a trip up the River Ant to reach the second largest of the broads and National Nature Reserve, magnificent Barton Broad. Following a major environmental restoration project, Barton Broad is a fantastic place for wildlife and has a fully accessible boardwalk which winds its way through swampy woodland to give a panoramic views over the broad. It’s also famous for its important sailing scene.
You can choose to moor at one of three villages surrounding the broad; Neatishead, which has a lovely pub and shop, or the charming little villages of Irstead and Barton Turf.
Barton Broad is a fascinating place to visit for those interested in the environment, thanks to a major restoration project by the Broads Authority – Clear Water 2000 – that began in 1995. Today the broad has very clear water, full of rare plants and animals, but prior to the project the water was thick with algae which silted up the broad and killed off other plants and animals.
The project pumped out the equivalent of 160 Olympic swimming pools of mud and temporarily removed fish from sections of the broad. Without any fish to eat them, the population of water fleas increased, which in turn cleared up the water by feeding on the algae. Dredging the broad was also good news for the boaters.
A fantastic way to learn more about the project and stretch your legs is to follow the Barton Broad boardwalk (no dogs allowed) close to Gaye’s Staithe in Neatishead. The 610 meter loop gives the feeling of passing through a floating forest as it takes you through wet Carr woodland to a large viewing platform with a spectacular vista across the broad. Look out for the signs along the way, which explain the restoration project and wildlife.
Reputed to be one of the places that Nelson learned to sail, Barton Broad has one of the most important sailing scenes on the Broads. It’s home to the Norfolk Punt Club, whose unusual floating clubhouse can be seen in the middle of the broad, and a number of other organisations including the Nancy Oldfield Trust, which helps people with disabilities to enjoy a day out on the water.
A major regatta is held every year during the August bank holiday when hundreds of boats flock to the broad to race.
Barton Broad Villages
Located to the south west of Barton Broad is the picture postcard village of Neatishead. In the centre of the village is White House Stores – a characterful community shop that’s a great place to stock up on groceries, newspapers and magazines and has a deli counter and cute little cafe.
Opposite the shop is the excellent White Horse Inn brew house and restaurant.
Located on the River Ant, just before Barton Broad, this gorgeous little village has a tranquil staithe with room for just three boats.
Close to the staithe is the impressive thatched St Michael’s Church, which dates back to the 14th century. It has a carving of St Michael wrestling a serpent above the door, as well as an impressive medieval rood screen inside. On the corner of the staithe car park is a sweet little craft stall, selling lots of items lovingly hand painted by a local resident, including pots, stones, horseshoes, garden signs and cards. Irstead is also ideal for dog walking and a popular choice with the locals is the circular walk around Alderfen Broad – a lovely and little-known nature reserve that is cut off from the river.
Located to the north east of Barton Broad, Barton Turf’s claim to fame is that Nelson visited his sister here while she was living in the village. The lovely staithe has an attractive grass area with a seat that’s ideal for a picnic.
Neatishead Staithe – Space for approximately 12 boats. good access to Neatishead village. Rubbish disposal and water available.
Gaye’s Staithe, Neatishead – A secluded spot that is the best place to moor for the Barton Broad boardwalk. Public toilet in boardwalk car park. A 2- minute walk to Neatishead village. Water available.
Irstead Staithe – Room for just three boats. 20 minutes walk from the boardwalk and 40 minutes from Neatishead village shop and pub.
Barton Turf Staithe – Check the signs as there are both Broads Authority 24 hour and privately managed moorings. 25 minutes walk from the shop and pub in Neatishead and 45 minutes walk from the boardwalk.
The White Horse Inn Neatishead – Freehouse and restaurant with an on-site brewery and its own gin! Serves traditional pub food and Sunday roasts. 01692 630828.