Suggested 3 day Broadland Cruise
Day 1: We start our journey of the Norfolk Broads in Wroxham the capital of the Broads. From Wroxham you can either hire your own self-drive cruiser for the week, weekend, day, or just for a few hours. also good for shopping, it claims to have the world's largest village store - Roys - and also a shopping precinct. You will also find some great attractions including Hoveton Hall Gardens, the Bure Valley Steam Railway and Wroxham Barns. The River Bure is the longest and in places the busiest of the Norfolk Broads Rivers. the Bure rises near the town of Aylsham, although Wroxham is now the start of our cruise.
Salhouse Broad is a little way down the River Bure from Wroxham, takes our vote for the most beautiful of the Norfolk Broads and yet it is one of the smallest. It is surrounded by ancient woodland and is the only Broad to feature a small sandy beach. It is ideal to anchor the boat and go for a walk, enjoy a picnic or let the kids splash around.
A short cruise down the River Bure takes us to Horning. This is one of the most picturesque villages on the Norfolk Broads and contains some fine old cottages, shops, pubs with river gardens and riverside walks. The village also has a very active sailing club, which organises the famous annual three rivers race. The paddle steamer, The Southern Comfort sails from here.
Downstream, just off the main river, you will find the lovely village of Ranworth. Here you will find the Cathedral of the Broads - a lovely old church with steps allowing you to climb the church tower for fantastic views over the Broads. The Church also has one of the finest medieval rood screens in the country and an ancient book of Psalms. Ranworth Broad is a boating paradise with all style, shape and size of boat, and their crew can often be found having a pint of local beer in the pub! Ranworth Broad is said to be haunted by a 12th century monk that is often seen rowing his boat out onto the Broad early in the morning mist. The inner Broad is closed off to boats and is a nature reserve. A thatched visitors centre shows the various wildlife that can be viewed from the upstairs viewing gallery overlooking the inner broad.
Day 2: Moving up the River Ant, we pass How Hill, a lovely nature reserve and small marsh-man's museum. There is a fine study centre and you can take river boat trips aboard the "Electric Eel", operated by the Broads Authority.
The River Ant opens onto beautiful Barton Broad, the second largest of the Norfolk Broads and until recently you could only enjoy its delights from a boat. The Barton Boardwalk changed all that by providing a viewing platform at the end of a walkway through ancient woodland
Barton Broad itself is a magnet for boats, particularly sailing. If you don't have one of your own, you can take trips from the staithe near Neatishead, aboard the Broads Authority "Ra". The Broad is also home to the Norfolk Punt Club, one of the most famous sailing clubs on the Broads.
Upstream from Barton Broad are the villages of Stalham and Sutton. You can also find one the most picturesque windmills in Norfolk - Hunsett Drainage Mill - now privately owned.
Stalham is home to the Broads Museum, showcasing the history of the Norfolk Broads, including mans influence on the Broadland landscape. The museum shows how the waterways of the Broads were the equivalent of motorways in times gone by, with all types of goods transported in Norfolk Wherries, from the villages to the port of Great Yarmouth and the city of Norwich.
Day 3: Returning to Thurne Mouth we come to the junction of the River Bure and River Thurne. The village of Thurne is marked by its famous windmill and is also on the Weavers Way, the long distance footpath covering much of Broadland.
Womack Water leads from the River Thurne to the village of Ludham. Here you will find Hunters Yard, the home of the Hunters Fleet, who hire out original 1930's gaff and lug rigged yachts.
Ludham village has one of the most picturesque tea-rooms in the whole county. A road leads from the village towards the ruins of historic St Benets Abbey,
Further up the River Thurne lies the village of Potter Heigham. Here you will find the famous medieval low arched bridge and the Herbert Woods Tower. Above Potter are the villages of Martham, Hickling and Horsey. These are lovely remote places to visit, as many boats cannot navigate through Potter bridge to get here!
Horsey has a fabulous four storey wind-pump, that was built in 1912 and is now owned by the National Trust. You can see the inner workings and climb to the top for a great view! Horsey is the closest Broadland village to the Norfolk Coast, being only a mile from the North Sea and a path across fields makes an excellent walk.
Returning back to Thurne Mouth, the River Bure continues its journey across the Norfolk marshes, passing St Benets Abbey a well known land mark on the River Bure. The Abbey is founded on land granted by King Canute in 1020 it was at one time one of the wealthiest Benedictine Houses in the country and was at its height of prosperity in the middle ages. However it declined before the reformation. None of the ruins date from this early period as in the 18th century a brick windmill was built inside the ruins. The top of the mill is now missing due to the fact it was blown off in a gale in 1863. Legend has it that the ghost of the monk who treacherously granted access to William the Conqueror can be seen hanging from the former bell tower on each night of the 25th May. If you follow the Bure it takes you through the bridge at Acle and towards the sea at Great Yarmouth. Acle is a lovely riverside Norfolk market village, with plenty of historic buildings to admire. The village also contains plenty of shops and other facilities.