Enjoy the Norfolk Broads at your own pace from the comfort of a luxury cruiser
An overnight stay on the River Waveney to visit the idyllic little village of Somerleyton and its magnificent stately home – Somerleyton Hall – is a must. The estate owns Fritton Lake, four miles from the village, where there is an activity centre offering water and land based activities for all the family.
Somerleyton Staithe – a long, grassy river bank flanked by marshes and wooded hills – is a beautiful mooring overlooking one of the last remaining railway swing bridges on the Broads. The double tracked bridge, which replaced an earlier single track bridge, was built in 1905 to enable trains travelling from Norwich to Lowestoft to cross the river without causing sailing boats to lower their sails.
You can walk along a wild riverside path from Somerleyton Staithe through species rich marshes to the Grade 11 listed Herringfleet smock mill. The octagonal, three storey mill was built in 1820 and was used until 1956 before being later restored to working order.
A short track from the staithe takes you to the Duke’s Head pub and restaurant. Continue for half a mile through the village to reach the picture-perfect village green surrounded by fine timber frame thatched houses. There is a children’s play area on the green plus a water pump dating back to 1859 and the village sign. This pictures a Viking on a long ship – hinting at the Norse roots to Somerleyton’s name. Opposite the green is a large column commemorating engineer Christopher Cockerell, who invented the hovercraft in the village in the late 1950s.
The village has a train station plus a cycle hire shop, which may be able to arrange a pickup from the staithe. 01502 732004.
Standing in stunning parkland at the edge of the village is Somerleyton Hall, which is one of the finest Victorian stately homes in England. While it is still the residence of Lord and Lady Somerleyton, visitors can take a guided tour of the hall and explore its 12 acre ornate garden, which includes a finely restored parterre and famous maze (open from the end of March until the end of October on Tuesdays, Wednesdays [garden only], Thursdays and Sunday Bank Holidays. The 15th century St Mary’s church is on the edge of Somerleyton Hall’s parkland.
Fritton Lake, a private waterside resort and nature reserve owned by the Somerleyton Estate, is located four miles from the village where you can enjoy a wide range of activities at Fritton Lake Outdoor Centre. It’s a beautiful place to hire a rowing boat, canoe, paddle board or fun katakanu (from late July until early September) and you can also rent a bike and explore the waterside trails. Instructor led activities – including tree climbing, archery, water sports and bush craft – are available in the school holidays and the lake is an outdoor swimming venue. 0333 4560777.
Room for 28 boats with double mooring allowed and bins available.
The Duke’s Head
Gastro pub owned by the Somerleyton Estate. Much of the ingredients are sourced from their own and nearby farms. Serves real ales. There is a conservatory and beer garden with a children’s play area. 01502 730281.