A trip to Norfolk isn’t a trip to Norfolk without spending a day navigating the 125-miles of waterways of the Broads National Park which covers 117 square miles of mostly navigable lakes and rivers, created by flooding of medieval peat pits as sea levels rose, resulting in a landscape of marshes and reed beds. They’re home to a huge variety of birds and other wildlife. They are just 15 minutes away. Get close to nature by hiring a boat, canoe, boardwalk or bicycle and slowly meandering the tranquil Broads. The Canoe Man starts his tours just 5 minutes away down the river Bure to canoe or wild swim a quiet, rural idyllic stretch of the Bure, flowing past gardens, fields and a church.
There are so many options when it comes to enjoying the Broads and varied boat trips to choose from. If you want to see the Broads at their best, then by boat is the only way. The Broads have a Tardis-like quality: even in high summer when the waterways are at their busiest, it’s still possible to find a lonely stretch all to yourselves.
Perfect for those taking to the water for the first time or novices, day boats can be hired from many locations around the Broads, including Wroxham, Horning, Hickling and Oulton Broads. Be your own skipper for the day and take your crew on an adventure through the reed beds. Many are powered by diesel although there are also electric boats for hire.
The Norfolk Broads are perfect for sailing with the wide open spaces of the many broads and rivers. Taster sessions are available for those who have never sailed before, while there are also day courses where you will receive expert tuition and improve your existing skills. For experienced sailors why not take part in one of the many regattas that take place throughout the year such as Wroxham Week in late July and the Barton Regatta.
Step back in time and experience a journey on a historic wherry. Used in the 1800s until the early 20th century throughout the Broadland region, the wherry played a vital role in transporting goods until the arrival of the railway and road links. Later, wherries were converted or specially built as pleasure crafts. Today only 8 exist: trading wherries Albion and Maud, pleasure wherries Hathor, Solace and Ardea and wherry yachts Olive, Norada and White Moth. Albion can be chartered for daily hire and Norada, White Moth and Olive can be hired for daily or weekly charters.
There are also numerous places in the Broads where you can hire canoes. Join the Canoe Man for a guided paddle along the quieter upper reaches of the River Bure taking in Broadland wildlife, habitats and local history. Canoeing allows near silent exploration of all but the most miniscule of the Broads Park waterways- you can paddle down miles of quiet, undisturbed tributaries, dykes and streams seeing kingfishers, bitterns and even the elusive otter.
If you’d prefer a more leisurely trip on the water, then experience a restful river tour. With boats of all different shapes and sizes including a double-deck paddle boat, there are numerous trips available. With refreshments available on board, you can sit back and relax, take in the scenery and listen to the on board commentary about the broads – their history, the landscape and the wildlife.
The Broads Authority offer a range of boat trips around nature reserves, broads and rivers. An Edwardian-style electric boat, the Electric Eel, will take you on a silent journey around the beautiful How Hill nature reserve, through a maze of reed-fringed dykes. Barton Broad can be explored on the Ra, a solar-powered boat aptly named after the Egyptian Sun God, while the Liana, an electric launch, will take you on a relaxed tour of the gorgeous southern Broads and River Waveney.
Blakeney is the north Norfolk hotspot for sailing activity, but you’d need your own boat, whereas at Brancaster Staithe it’s possible to hire or learn to sail, and there’s all sorts of nautical activity at the National Trust’s Millennium Activity Centre.
Kitesurfing and windsurfing are popular along the coast.