7 pretty Norfolk Broads to visit
- Credit: Copyright: Archant 2016
Created from the need for peat for fuel and building supplies, the Norfolk Broads are a man-made national treasure. Judith Palmer explores seven of these county delights
1. Wroxham Broad
Situated between the two beautiful villages of Wroxham and Hoveton, Wroxham Broad is best accessed by boat to appreciate its real wonder. With an abundance of local businesses, including the famous Roys of Wroxham, and a large selection of boat rental businesses the broad is easily accessible, whether you wish to relax for an hour, a day, a weekend or more.
Access to the broad by foot or by car is very limited, although parking is plentiful in Wroxham and Hoveton villages. You can also take a return trip from Aylsham to Wroxham via the Bure Valley Railway which includes an hour and a half trip on a tour boat exploring the broads with on-board commentary.
2. Salhouse Broad
Around 40 acres in size, Salhouse Broad is unique in its origins as, it was created by sand and gravel extraction. Located on the River Bure between Wroxham and Horning, Salhouse holds a plethora of valuable Broadland habitats and species, including both dry and wet carr woodland, as well as open water. It can be explored on foot or by boat, with plenty of moorings availableavaliable, or take the ferry to the Hoveton Great Broad Nature Trail.
There is a family and dog friendly campsite open from April-September, and mooring sites inside the broad, on the Island and the Spit. There are also canoes and kayaks available for hire.
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3. Ranworth Broad
Most popular with tourists in the spring and summer months, the unspoilt Norfolk village of Ranworth is home to one of the most beautiful of the broads. Run as a nature reserve the broad itself is not open to boats, but nature thrives here and makes for a peaceful walk in the sunshine, finishing at a floating thatched conservation centre with displays about the history and origin of the broads, as well as a specially built wooden structure to enjoy the view. Ranworth village also has much to offer visitors, with picturesque walks and a fantastic tea shop and store.
There is free parking around the corner from the shop; be aware this can close early evening.
4. South Walsham
When you visit Fairhaven Woodland and Water Garden you will see why South Walsham Broad can render you speechless. Set amongst 130 acres of cultivated wild and natural plantings, with nearly four miles of woodland pathways to explore, and stunning views of the private broad throughout, Fairhaven is a place to visit and lose yourself in nature’s wonder for the day. Frequently holding events throughout the year, Fairhaven can be enjoyed all year round, as you are bound to see something new with every trip; you can also explore the broad with daily boat trips (run through April to October)
5. Barton Broad
The beautiful Barton Brbroad is one of the most popular with visitors because of the vast selection of green open areas that surround it, which are home to many species of wildlife and rare vegetation. It is said that Horatio Nelson often spent time here as a child, and may have even learned to sail on the broad.
A lot of the broad is accessibleavailable on foot, so take a stroll along the convenient walkway leading to the water’s edge. Hire a canoe to explore the broad yourself, or relax on one of the many tour boats in the area.
There is a convenient car park around half a mile away, near the village of Neatishead, but there is also parking in and around the village of Barton Turf.
6. Horsey Mere
Well known for its beautiful windpump, Horsey Mere is often found in collections of landscape photographers’ work and is a very popular destination for a short easy walk with plenty to see from boats to birds, water to wind turbines. The path is flat and easily accessible for buggy or wheelchair and takes you around the top of the broad to the viewpoint overlooking Horsey Mere. You can also walk around the other side of the broad to the seasonal boat trip berth. The windpump, including the café and shop, is managed by the National Trust and is open from Easter to October, but the surrounding site and car park are open all year round.
Windpump entry £2.50 adults, £1 children.
7. Hickling Broad
The largest of the broads, Hickling is only a short distance from Stalham. Hickling Broad National Nature Reserve is a particular favourite for visitors who enjoy spotting rare insects and birds. The nature reserve has some fantastic walks that are sure to keep you busy and bring your camera as there will be plenty of see. After a successful trip navigating the country lanes, you will see the visitor centre on the left and a large free car park on the right. There is also a guided boat tour run every couple of hours, timetables and prices online. Norfolk Wildlife Trust has swing mooring vacancies on Hickling Broad, if you would like to find out more contact Debs Kershaw on 01603 625540.