Who’d have thought that a huge mining operation in the 14th century would inadvertently create one of Norfolk’s most well known tourist attractions and create the hot pot of holiday cottages on the Norfolk Broads as we now know it. The broadland area around the east of Norfolk was once rich in peat which was mined for fuel to be used to heat homes and cottages throughout the country. Eventually the peat mines flooded to create vast waterways, nature reclaimed the broadlands and slowly people returned to the area this time for recreation and holidays.
One of the plants that returned to the broads is now such a distinctive part of the Norfolk Broads landscape that you’d be pushed to find a photograph of the area without it in. Water reeds not only line most of the the Broads waterways with visual spectacle but are also a prevalent local building material. Most most of the traditional holiday cottages and holiday homes on the Norfolk Broads have traditional thatched roofs made from the local water reeds. Villages like Wroxham and Ranworth are sprinkled with holiday homes with this distinctive local charm.
The Norfolk Wherry is a distinctive boat that was originally developed to carry goods across the Broads and along the rivers to reach seagoing vessels and transfer their cargoes. Once used to bring goods inland before the development of a reliable road network some of these traditional boats are now used to take tourists on day trips from their holiday cottages across the Norfolk broads.
The most common way to explore the waterways is by renting a more modern day boat. While some cottages come with their own boats and moorings it’s more common to rent a boat for the day from one of the many boat hire companies found in Wroxham, Potter Heigham and Stalham. Cruising the rivers and broads of East Anglia is one of the best ways to experience the Norfolk Broads. Many waterside pubs and cafes provide a great place to stop for lunch and will have signs to encouraging you to moor alongside their gardens. It’s important to remember that much of the broads is private and many moorings around Horning and Potter Heigham are reserved for owners or those letting holiday cottages, look for private signs and be respectful to locals.
A pretty village on the Northern side of the River Bure which runs through the Norfolk Broads, finding a holiday cottage in Horning is a quieter alternative to the ever popular Wroxham. There are holiday cottages to rent both in Horning and nearby. Some holiday homes are adjacent to the river from which you can take boat trips to explore the rivers and Norfolk Broads.
Barton Broad is the second largest of the Norfolk Broads and is a popular broad for sailing and fishing. This broad has recently had work done to remove silt and is now very much improved for both sailing and wildlife, and otters have returned to the Broad. There is an annual sailing regatta on Barton Broad in August. Barton Broad is connected to Neatishead by Lime Kiln Dyke
With private moorings and a public staithe for boating, renting a cottage in Ludham gives you access the river Thurne. Ludham has shops, a tea room and a pub and is a good starting point for exploring the marshes and the broadland countryside and there are a number of footpaths to nearby villages.