The Broads is a member of the international family of National Parks. Its unique landscape of shallow lakes and rivers is renowed for wildlife. A rich mix of attractions are on offer both on land and on water all year round, and the historic city of Norwich is right on your doorstep.
The Norfolk Broads is one of Britains largest major tourist destinations, it is also Britains largest protected wetland with over 125 miles of lock-free navigatable waterways. With nothing to stand in your way the Broads are popular with first time boaters, along with visitors returning year after year, the perfect comination of easy navigation, peaceful mooring places, popular fishing spots, close encounters with wildlife at every turn and bird watching make for a perfect holiday.
The Broads we see today are the result of medieval peat diggings between the 9th and 13th centuries. The peat was used as fuel for heating and cooking. with time and over the centuries the water rose, the diggings flooded and the Broads were formed. Later the Broads become an important means of transporting cargo between local villages and towns. There are five rivers that flow through the Broads- the Bure, the Yare the Ant, the Thurne and the Waveney. There are basically 40 or so shallow lakes which are the result of the flooding. The surrounded landscape is made up of drained grazing marshland, sedge and reed-beds and wet woodlands.
A wildlife paradise
There really is no better place to get up close to some of Englands best loved and most spectacular wildlife. The Broads boast booming bitterns, playful otters and darting kingfishers, native white waterlillies and rare fen orchids. This is the only place in Britain to see one of the largest and rarest most beautiful butterflies, the swallowtail. The reeds are filled with birdsong, while overhead, marsh harriers, hobbies and barn owls quarter the skies. During Spring and Summer the Broads brings hosts of migrant birds and huge flocks of waders and waterfowl spend there winter here. The Norfolk Broads are now home to over 250 species of plants and a hugh variety of insects, it includes some of Europe's most special nature reserves, with no fewer than 28 Sites of Special Scientific Interest.
Conservation on the Broads
The Norfolk Broads are looked after by the Broads Authority which keeps the waterways open and safe for navigation. The main duty is to ensure that the natural wildlife and habitat is protected. We take climate change and the environment seriously, the very fabric of this special landscape and the local communities it suppors depends on preserving the balance between the needs of people and nature. We are always looking at new ways to reduce our footprint, keep our waters clean and set up sustainable initiatives throughout the Broads. We ask all our visitors to respect the environment so that future generations can enjoy this unique and magical waterland.
What to look out for
The beauty of the Broads is best appreciated from the water and many different types of craft can be hired by the hour, half day, a day or for a holiday, and whether you are looking for a weekend break or longer there is something for everyone. The Broads attract thousands of visitors each year, for sailing, canoeing, fishing and bird watching or simply to enjoy time on the waterways in the peaceful surroundings. There are many other activities to enjoy off the water, from walking the 185 miles of footpaths, cycling through the countryside or enjoying some of the fantastic churches and historic buildings, such as St Bennetts Abbey.
Some of the most famous landmarks on the Broads are the numerous windmills which were once used for drainage purposes in the nineteenth century. Some of these mills have been restored and are now open to the public. The Berney Arms Mill is situated on the west bank of the River Yare about half a mile south-east of the railway station. Stracey Arms Mill is on the River Bure between Stokesby and Great Yarmouth. Horsey Mill can be found between Horsey Mill Staite and the coast road , it is now maintained by the National Trust. Thurne Mill is the fourth of the restored open mills and is situated alongside the River Thurne in the village of Thurne about one mile west of the B1152 Acle-Martham road.
If you feel the need for some cosmopolitan shopping and dining with a substantial measure of medieval history and architecture thrown into the mix, then moor up at Norwich Yacht Station and enjoy a stroll through the magnificent cathedral grounds to the heart of this vibrant city. Choose from trendy malls, top high street retailers, specialist shops in quaint cobbled streets right through to the unique city-centre Norwich Market boasting over 190 stalls - all overlooked by the 900 year- old Norman Cathedral and Castle.
Even the bustling seaside resort of Great Yarmouth, with its Pleasure Beach, amusement arcades and summer variety shows, proudly presents you with another award-winning museum. Time & Tide tells the gripping story of the town’s maritime heritage through innovative technology and traditional displays, and is set in one of the UK’s best preserved Victorian herring curing works. Moor up here at the Marina and make the most of a day on the coast.
Whatever you want from your holiday, there is no doubt the Norfolk Broads will reward you with a wonderful variety of options - here you are simply spoilt for choice!
"I had to write to thank everybody at Norfolk Broads Direct for the kind, cheerful and helpful service we received on our week's holiday on Fair Regal. Everyone was so pleasant and friendly and it did make such a difference. We hope to see you again soon".
Bill Hill, West Sussex