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. The Broads can be split into two parts, the Northern Broads and the Southern Broads; the second stretching down into Suffolk and the Waveney Valley.
With all waterways lock-free the Broads offer the chance for trouble-free cruising. Around 12 broads are open all year round with these being fully accessible.
Driving in the Broads won’t let you see a lot of the waterways. Walking and cycling are both better, but the best way to see them is from the water – hire a boat for a day or a longer break.
The Northern Broads
River Bure, Wroxham Broad and Salhouse Broad: Considered to be one of the prettiest rivers in the Broads area and the birthplace of Broads cruising, the River Bure provides many routes for the intrepid traveller. Starting from the quaint village of Coltishall, it flows on through the hustle and bustle of Wroxham, before meandering onto the picturesque village of Horning, with its riverside pubs and continuing onto the river mouth and the energetic town of Great Yarmouth. There are many broads to be explored on this route including Wroxham Broad, where you can either sail alone or take a boat trip and the beautiful Salhouse Broad (pictured above) with its grassy bank and areas of sand, perfect for children.
River Ant and Barton Broad: The River Ant is much narrower than the other Broads rivers and in places is a quieter, more peaceful place to sail. With some beautiful towns to visit along its banks the river has a tendency to get busy during the holiday season. It begins surrounded by reed beds before heading upstream to Stalham, a lovely market town. It then opens out in to Barton Broad, the second largest broad, popular for cruising and sailing – as our picture above shows. Regattas are held here throughout the year including the Barton Regatta in October.
River Thurne and Hickling Broad: Imagine vast expanses of clear blue sky and sparkling water stretching out as far as the eye can see with only churches and windmills breaking up the horizon. This will be the view from your boat on the River Thurne which meanders onto Hickling Broad (pictured above), the largest broad in the region and forms part of a nature reserve run by the Norfolk Wildlife Trust. At only five miles in length, the Thurne is Norfolk’s shortest river. The river then continues on to the town of Potter Heigham.
The Southern Broads
River Yare and Breydon Water: Flowing from Norwich the River Yare is the biggest of the Broads rivers. Its journey is through beautiful scenery taking in the villages of Brundall and Reedham (where a chain ferry operates, pictured below) before opening out into the vast but shallow expanse of Breydon Water near Great Yarmouth.
River Chet: A small tributary off the River Yare, the River Chet meanders through quiet woodland and grazing marsh. A detour upstream for about three miles will bring you to the quaint market town of Loddon. With a public staithe for mooring, leave the boat behind for a bit and take time to explore on foot. Nearby is the Chet Valley Vineyard.
River Waveney and Oulton Broad: Crossing the Norfolk/Suffolk border the River Waveney is the least typical of all the rivers. From Breydon Water it heads to St Olaves and Somerleyton, onto Oulton Broad near Lowestoft then to the attractive market town of Beccles.