The Norfolk Broads
The Norfolk Broads is an area consisting of many rivers and lakes situated close to the East coast of the county. In conjunction with the neighbouring Suffolk Broads it is the largest protected wetland and third largest inland waterway in Britain. It’s status is equivalent to that of a national park, although it has not been designated as one…….yet. The Broads Authority, set up in 1989, is responsible for conservation, planning, recreation and waterways.
The Broads, as it is commonly referred to, has an area of 303 square kilometers (for those who, like me, are struggling to come to terms with metrication that is 117 square miles). In it’s entirety it is made up of seven rivers, namely the Ant, Thurne, Bure, Chet, Yare, Waveney and Wensum, together with sixty three broads. Of these broads only thirteen are for the most part navigable, with three more having only channels which can be navigated. The total navigable waterways amount to 200 kilometers (125 miles) and provide some spectacular night-time scenery.
Intensive peat digging during medieval times is believed to have culminated in the creation of the broads. The result is an area which has, quite fittingly, been described as ‘Britain’s Magical Waterland’. It is home to a diverse range of plants, insects, birds and animals, many of which are the rarest in the UK and some of which are unique to this area. Our most beautiful insect, the Swallowtail butterfly, has made it’s home here and the delightful British Otter is making a welcome comeback here thanks to the landscape and the water quality.
The Norfolk Broads can be explored along the numerous footpaths and cycle tracks running parallel to the rivers, with bicycle hire available around the county. However, the best way to take in the beautiful landscape and it’s wildlife is to rent a boat and cruise the waterways at your leisure or to take a guided boat tour. There are many businesses throughout the area offering tours or boats of all shapes and sizes for hire. You can live on board or there is plenty of accommodation available in close proximity to moorings if you want to hire boats by the day.