Broads Online National Park

The Norfolk and Suffolk Broads are a sailing environment that continues to attract generation after generation of holiday makers who come to experience the thrill of Broadland sailing. Holiday makers have the choice of sail or motor cruisers than can be hired by the week and, in some cases, for long weekends, particularly in the off-season. There are also waterbuses and day-hire craft for those who can only spend a day at a time on the Broads. Through the Summer, a group of historic Norfolk Wherries tour the Broads, offering a series of short trips each day. The pick up and drop off points can usually be reached by car or public transport but most trips are from one point on the Broads to another point which then becomes the pick up point for the next day.

So what are the Broads like? The 125 miles of navigable waters consist of rivers and lakes (known as Broads). Despite their idyllic appearance, the various Broads were in fact Medieval peat diggings that subsequently flooded to become an attractive part of the Broadland environment. Each of these Broads provides a refreshing change from river sailing, with reasonable sized expanses of open water. They act as an ideal venue, either for some exciting uninterrupted sailing, or to simply drop the mud weight over the bow and watch the world go by. Alternatively, they are a safe place, for those new to sailing, to learn the basics before trying the more challenging conditions of the rivers.

The Broads network divides into two areas; The Northern Rivers and the Southern Rivers.

The Northern Rivers

Much of the boat hire industry is located within the Northern “zone” which is blessed with more Broads, and made up of the Rivers Bure, Thurne and Ant. It was on these rivers that the Broadland tourism industry was pioneered by a mixture of enterprising wherry and boatyard owners, who saw the opportunity to profit from the interest created by the wealth of magazine articles and books published about the Broads during the second half of the 19th Century. This relationship has resulted in the Northern “zone” becoming the best known part of the Broads, with picture postcard locations, such as the village of Horning and Horsey Mere, being used to attract generations of holiday makers to the area.

The Southern Rivers

The Southern “zone” of the Broads is made up of the Rivers Yare, Wensum, Chet and Waveney. The largest broad on this network is Oulton Broad. These rivers were once the commercial hub of the Broads with the movement of cargoes from both Great Yarmouth and Lowestoft to Norwich. Originally, these cargoes were moved by Norfolk Keels, that gave way to Norfolk Wherries, which in turn gave way to road and rail transport. Commercial motor vessels were once able to sail inland to Norwich to discharge cargoes. That traffic declined, finally ending in the 1970s. Despite the demise of these commercial activities, the ports of Great Yarmouth and Lowestoft still provide the two points of entry to the Broads from the North Sea.

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