The Broadland landscape
Situated between Norwich and the Norfolk coast, the Broadland district of Norfolk covers around 200 square miles and is made up of 65 parishes. Broadland is famous for its waterways which stretch for over 125 miles. The Norfolk Broads were formed by Medieval peat diggings, which became shallow lakes joined by cuts and dykes to the rivers of the area including the Yare, the Bure, the Wensum and the Waveney.
The Norfolk Broads is now the UK's largest nationally protected wetland. Its rivers, broads (shallow lakes), marshes and fens make it a unique area. Globally, wetlands are among the most threatened of landscapes and the Norfolk Broads are home to a wide variety of plant life, birds and animals and an important destination for naturalists. Ancient crafts such as reed cutting still take place here, harvesting Norfolk reeds for thatchers throughout the UK.
The Natural World
There's no better place than the Broads to get up close to some of England's best loved and most spectacular wildlife. The Broads boast booming Bitterns, playful Otters and darting Kingfishers, native white waterlilies and rare fen orchids, and this is the only place to see one of Britain's largest, rarest and most beautiful butterflies, the Swallowtail. The reeds are filled with birdsong, while overhead, Marsh Harriers, Hobbies and Barn owls quarter the skies. Spring and autumn bring hosts of migrant birds, and huge flocks of waders and waterfowl spend the winter here. An internationally important wetland, the Broads is a member of the National Park family, and includes some of Europe's most special nature reserves, with no fewer than 28 Sites of Special Scientific Interest.
At How Hill Nature Reserve in Ludham you can enjoy the Broads countryside either on foot, by following the footpaths or nature trail, or by boat. Either way you are sure to spot some outstanding wildlife in this unspoilt and peaceful corner of Norfolk.
The floating Broads Wildlife Centre at Ranworth Broad is run by the Norfolk Wildlife Trust. You can park at Ranworth village and walk along the interpretive boardwalk, which provides lots of information about the various habitats you pass through, or take the electric ferryboat. Ranworth is a spectacular location for birdwatching with Cettis warbler, common tern, Great Crested Grebe, Redpoll, Siskin, winter wildfowl and Cormorants just a few of the species you can hope to see.
The RSPB's reserve at Strumpshaw Fen is in the heart of the Norfolk Broads. A number of nature trails lead you through the varied habitats, including reedbeds and woodland and in the summer Strumpshaw is the perfect place to enjoy Broadland meadow flowers.
Towns and villages in Broadland
Aylsham is a traditional market town in the north of the Broadland region. A twice-weekly market is still held here and there is a weekly auction of fine art, books and antique furniture where you can seek out treasures and bargains. Just outside Aylsham is Blickling Hall, one of Norfolks finest stately homes .
Walking around Reepham is like stepping back in time. With its pretty market place, bordered by 18th century houses, this charming town has been the setting for a number of period TV productions including Poirot. A market is still held every Wednesday where you can enjoy a leisurely shopping spree before retiring to one of the welcoming town centre pubs for a well deserved pint of beer.
The only remaining car and passenger ferry in the Broads operates in Reedham, taking people across the River Yare. It is the only road crossing between Great Yarmouth and Norwich offering travellers a convenient alternative to the otherwise long drive round. The Reedham Ferry Inn is a great pub to while away a couple of hours watching the world go by and at the Old Brewery you'll find a variety of locally designed crafts.
Wroxham is probably the most well known Broadland village. In the summer you will find huge numbers of visitors enjoying the bustling atmosphere and whiling away sunny afternoons by the busy river.
The Norfolk Broads have been a popular destination for boating holidays since the Victorians discovered them in the late 19th century.
Without a doubt, the most magical way to discover the Broads is by boat. The waterways of the Broads are safe and easy to navigate, with over 125 tranquil, lock-free miles to explore. So much of the Broads can't be reached by road that days - and nights - afloat become a real adventure, with hidden places, perfect fishing spots and close encounters with wildlife at every turn. The famous Broads motor cruisers have been holiday favourites since the 1930s, and today's boats have all the comforts of home on board, so if you prefer to visit during the quieter, cooler months, you'll have a cosy base for your explorations. With fresh air, sparkling water and wide horizons by day, and wonderfully dark, starry nights, a boating holiday on the Broads is an unforgettable experience.
Find out more about the Broadland area
In this section we've given you just a flavour of the Broadland area. You can find out lots more about places to stay and things to do by visiting the official tourism website:
Other useful links:
Related pages on Visit Norfolk:
Find out more about The Broads
You can also find more information on the official tourism website for The Broads: