For those holidaymakers wishing to take to the water, whether experienced sailors or complete novices, the Norfolk Broads provides many opportunities for all. Made up of a collection of around 40 inland water-filled broads, connected by over 125 miles of free-flowing rivers, they provide the perfect conditions for any explorer! With all waterways lock-free, the Broads offers the chance for trouble free cruising. Around 12 broads are open all year round with these being fully accessible.
Below is a brief guide of the Norfolk Broads not to be missed.
Your adventure starts by leaving the busy boatyard and heading upstream under Wroxham Bridge (height permitting). We will be more than happy to assist you and help navigate you and your cruiser safely under the bridge (please advise a member of our team whist you are having your trial run that you wish to try and head up towards Coltishall). Once under and through, continue cruising for about 2 hours until you reach the pretty village green of Coltishall, with an abundance of moorings. Why not stretch your legs and explore the village with its variety of village pubs and restaurants, such as The Rising Sun, The Kings Head, The Recruiting Sergeant and The Norfolk Mead Hotel.
Alternatively, if your boat is too high or tidal conditions restrict you from passing under Wroxham Bridge, follow the River Bure downstream towards Wroxham Broad and Salhouse Broad, considered to be one of the prettiest rivers of the Broads and the birth place of Broads cruising holidays. The River Bure provides some fantastic scenery with traditional thatched cottages, various nature trails to be explored and much more.
Salhouse Broad is about an hour’s cruising, offering the perfect overnight mooring stop for you to finish unpacking and start to enjoy the slow pace of life the Broads offers. Salhouse Broad is a quiet and peaceful place with abundant wildlife. Whilst here why not take a walk along the footpath next to the old staithe to the village, and 13th century thatched church, or head for sleepy Woodbastwick, home of the Woodforde’s Norfolk Ales.
With your first successful mooring under your belt, take the time to look through our Skippers Manual which will give you all the additional information you may need to help you enjoy the rest of your holiday.
A short cruise further down the River Bure brings you to the pretty village of Horning, boasting fine riverside cottages, shops, 3 different pubs; The Swan, The New Inn and The Ferry Inn, with river gardens and riverside walks. The village also has a very active sailing club, which organises the famous annual Three Rivers Race and is home to the paddle steamer, The Southern Comfort. Horning Village stretches along the northern bank of The River Bure for about a mile.
Continue to cruise on until you come to the turn for Ranworth Broad. Here you will find the “Cathedral of The Broads”; Saint Helen’s Church. Almost all of our visitors love to climb the eighty-nine spiral steps and 2 ladders to the top of the flint-lined tower. The view is spectacular with much of the Norfolk Broads river system visible, interlaced with boats that weave their way in the constantly changing pattern of light through farmland and marshes that grow traditional Norfolk Thatching Reed. On a good day you can see the impressive wind turbines of the wind farm at West Somerton.
Leave the River Bure behind you and head up the River Ant, under Ludham Bridge and up to How Hill. With lots of moorings on the starboard side, this is a great place to stop overnight. How Hill is a lovely Nature Reserve with a small museum of a Traditional Marshman’s Cottage. There is also the opportunity to take a boat trip through the marshes and see the Norfolk Reeds being cut. The river trips are run by The Broads Authority on an electric launch called the Electric Eel, so this is a great point to get up close to some amazing wildlife.
The beautiful River Ant opens onto Barton Broad, the second largest broad. Until recently you could only enjoy it by boat, but the Barton boardwalk changed all that by providing a viewing platform at the end of the walkway through its ancient woodland.
Barton Broad itself is a magnet for boats, particularly sailing, and is home to one of the most famous Broadland sailing clubs, the Norfolk Punt Club. Once on Barton Broad you can either follow the channel to port and head down towards the village of Neatishead, or carry on across the Broad heading up towards Sutton and Stalham. If you decide to moor up at Stalham this would be a great point to stock up on any supplies, with Tesco being just a short walk away. You will also find one of the most picturesque windmills in Norfolk, Hunsett Drainage Mill. Stalham is home to the Museum of The Broads, showcasing the history of The Norfolk Broads, including man’s influence on the Broadland landscape.
If you would prefer to head back down the River Ant, your adventure takes you back onto the River Bure, passing the ruins of the Anglo-Saxon St Benets Abbey, before turning right on to the River Thurne and arriving at Potter Heigham. The village of Potter Heigham is famous for Latham’s, the super discount store, and the medieval low arched bridge – unfortunately most of our cruisers will not pass under Potter Bridge. However, if yours will you must use the Bridge Pilot Service. You will find this facility on the right-hand side of the river bank.
Sadly, your mid-week or weekend short break will now be drawing to an end and it will be time to think about setting sail and cruising back towards Wroxham and our Norfolk Broads Direct Boat yard. We hope that our recommended 3-day guide has been helpful, and we will be more than happy to recommend additional places to visit or stop off at when we check you and your family in, for your next holiday on the Norfolk Broads. If you’re hiring for a week, continue reading.
Leave Potter Heigham and head back down the River Thurne to the Bure, passing through Acle and under its road bridge. The landscape changes to fields and marshland with the remains of ancient wind pumps before you arrive at the popular seaside resort of Great Yarmouth.
Yarmouth is a bustling seaside town with much to offer, including a first-class beach, shopping centre, amusement arcades and funfair. Children can run wild at the Pleasure Beach with over 70 rides and attractions. There are wonderful gardens to explore, a mini golf course to pit your wits at, and of course sample the traditional fish and chips whilst paddling your feet in the shallows as you watch the sunset over the town. If you choose not to spend the evening here, head for Reedham, crossing Breydon Water which is a huge area of open water and a famous conservation area, before picking up the River Yare.
Take a peaceful cruise up the Yare through the pretty countryside, stopping at Bramerton for lunch and a stroll along the Weaver’s Way footpath.
The rivers Yare, Chet and Waveney all have a unique story to tell, but combined they offer the ultimate Broadland experience. The River Yare for instance is often called ‘the gateway to the Broads’, a nickname which stuck after it became a main trading route linking Norwich with the seaside port of Great Yarmouth. Today the river is a haven of woodland flora, fauna and impressive marshland. The Chet in comparison offers a sleepy backwater feel, this 3 mile stretch of river makes an effortless detour and before you know it you are back on the River Yare. The Waveney takes its place between Norfolk and Suffolk and is the Broads’ most southerly main river.
Cast-off, heading for the river Wensum and the fine city of Norwich. Here you’ll moor close to the city centre, within sight of the magnificent cathedral which is well worth a visit. The City of Norwich is famous for many things, including the magnificent Norman Cathedral, busy market, and selection of cosmopolitan restaurants, cafes and wine bars which come alive at night. You could even see a show in one of the many theatres, or watch the latest film in one of the city’s cinemas.
Retrace your steps down the Wensum and Yare, passing Surlingham and Rockland Broads before turning right on to the narrow, scenic River Chet. This takes you to the small, pretty town of Loddon. Here you can take time to stroll around the town and stock up with provisions before heading back towards Breydon, mooring up at Burgh Castle.
Leaving Burgh Castle, head across Breydon Water and back onto the Bure towards Wroxham. Stop for your last night at Horning and stroll to Cockshoot Broad with its crystal clear waters, or try walking to Salhouse Broad, a pleasant walk along a tranquil footpath from the Fur & Feathers Pub. Then it’s just a short hop back to Wroxham and a return to the real world!
This route plan is only a ‘taster’. There are many more Broads, villages and walks that you can explore. Please do not hesitate to ask a member of our staff, or see our Plan your visit guide for further suggestions of places to stop and recommendations on the very best places to enjoy a bite to eat during your Norfolk Broads boating holidays.