GetOutside Champion Debs Butler takes us on her stand up paddleboarding river trip in the Midlands.
Spanning the counties of Norfolk and Suffolk, the Broads are a series of man-made lakes and rivers situated in a National Park. It’s an enduring and much-loved destination – if you’ve never visited, here’s everything that you need to know.
Situated to the east of Norwich and fenced in by the A146 and the A140, the Broads are on the coast of the east of England. While a proportion strays into Suffolk, they’re always known as the Norfolk Broads regardless. Nearby are the historic cities and towns of Norfolk, Norwich, Great Yarmouth and Lowestoft, so you’ll have no trouble finding somewhere to stay.
The Broads are 303km² of land which is interspersed with rivers and lakes - much of which you can sail along - hence it’s a popular boating destination. Until recently, they were thought to be naturally- occurring, but it’s been proved that they were caused by the flooding of Medieval peat workings.
The best way to explore the Broads is, of course, by boat. You can hire a boat for an hour, a day or a week. The family could rent Canadian canoes and zip down those rivers with ease, paddling at your own pace. Or grab some tackle and rods and head for the area’s best fishing spots, such as Barton Broads and the River Thurne. Alternatively, launch your own vessel from one of the many slip ways.
A plethora of pubs, cafes and restaurants will see that you remain well-nourished on your trip to the Broads. Why not sample the local delicacy, Cromer crab? Watch the boats with a pint in hand at the Reedham Ferry Inn or try the local cuisine at the Three Horseshoes pub in Beccles. Stop for pastries at the Kingfisher Tea Room at Fairhaven Woodland but save room for dinner at The Black Boys in Aylsham or the Recruiting Sergeant in Horstead. You’ll really be spoiled for choice.
If your visit extends a few hours, then you’ll be pleased to learn that there’s a massive variety of accommodation on offer. Rated highly on TripAdvisor are Park Farm Hotel in Hethersett, Annesley House Hotel in Norwich and Maids Head Hotel, also in Norwich. For a touch of luxury, there’s The Boathouse in Ormesby or The Windmill in Ludham, while Clippesby Hall and Whitlingham Broad Campsite welcomes those with canvas to sleep under. To really experience the Broads, how about staying on a boat?