Top Tips for holidaying on the Norfolk Broads

Are you thinking of holidaying in the U.K.? Looking for something different to do with your family and children? Especially if your children don’t mind being cooped up for some quality family time and enjoy water and fishing. I may have the perfect answer, have a look at holidaying on the Norfolk Broads.

This summer we holidayed on the Broads, we hired a river boat and went adventuring for a week.

Here are some of my top tips for Holidaying on the broads as a family;

Finding the right boat

Like any other holiday, finding the right accommodation is a really high factor for getting the right break. On the Norfolk Broads there are numerous boat hiring companies each offering a completely different range of boats. It makes sifting through each company hard work when looking for the right boat, but thankfully the people at Waterways Holidays can make this choice a lot easier for you!

By simply completing the search filters you will be given a list of boats from the range of hire companies on the Norfolk Broads.

From here you can browse the boats and take reference of all the prices. What I found to be most helpful was the ability to open the information of the boat, you can check out the boats layout to see if it meets your party’s requirements, look at images of your chosen boat, check out the boats description, what’s included with the hire, special charges and Terms & Conditions.

The boat we hired for our week on the Norfolk Broads

With your correct boat chosen you can book through Waterways. You can do this by simply entering your details and a member of the team at Waterways call you to confirm your booking. They are a super friendly company, giving you a call to take your holiday booking payment and checking through all your details too. Before your holiday you will then receive information from your chosen boat yard about your upcoming holiday.

Where to visit

The broads cover an area of 117 sq miles, made up of 7 rivers and 63 broads. Of those 63 broads only 13 are open for navigation throughout the year, with 3 channels and another 2 are only open through the spring/summer months. The rest are just too shallow or isolated from the river.

That said there are more than enough places to visit, from various little towns, little riverside attractions, isolated moorings for the evening and much more.

For keeping kids entertained, the town of Great Yarmouth has plenty to provide for a good days outing, a trip to Central Beach, Sealife Centre, Pleasure Beach and more. Perfect for providing a family fun day out. Moor your boat up for the day (and evening if needed) and enjoy a great day out.

Perhaps a big tourist town isn’t for you? Visit one of smaller towns around the broads, Wroxham, Potter Heigham, Ludham Bridge are all well worth a visit.

Other attractions we came across on our ventures around the broads were the ruins of St Benet’s Abbey, Stracey Arms with the visitors farm and windmill, Barney Arms windmill and more.

The joys of the Norfolk Broads is all about setting off on your own journey and admiring locations you pass and visit along the way.


Places To Eat

There is absolutely no shortage of places to eat whilst visiting the Broads, there are plenty of riverside pubs and restaurants to feast your eyes on. The only shortage you may discover is the lack of mooring space at some places. On a couple of occasions we struggled to moor up having to cruise further up river to see if we can find somewhere else to stop. For this reason I thoroughly recommend having a least 1 evening meal on board your boat just in case of such an emergency. That way should a problem arise you can still eat, or failing that you can stop in a secluded location one night to eat the food you have.

Riverside Restaurants you will come across mostly serve typical pub style menus which was nice but can get a little tedious after a few days. But that said, if you were to break up your trip with evening moorings in towns you will be sure to find a range of other restaurants to dine in.

Rules Of The River

Like driving a car, riding a bike or any other form of transportation, cruising on the rivers also have their own “laws”. Here’s the main laws you will need to abide by whilst travelling on the Broads.

  • Keep to the speed limit – Yep! The rivers also have speed limits, and they need to be abided by as there is a police patrol on the rivers. Now, don’t get me wrong, your boat wont have a speedometer so you wont know exactly how fast you are travelling but you will be guided as to roughly how fast you will be travelling dependant on the revs of your engine. For example, 1100rpm was about 5mph.

  • Cruise on the right hand side – This one really did confuse me for a while, living in the UK we drive our cars on the left hand side of the road but because we were travelling on water we were restricted a form of “international waters bylaw” you actually travel on the right hand side.

  • Wear life jackets – Now don’t get this wrong, this isn’t a “law” as such but it’s certainly a personal health and safety item.

  • Bridges – Because of the height of bridges around the broads and the range of heights of boats there are certain bridges you cannot go under. Bridges at Wroxham and Potter Heigham both being bridges to be particularly aware of as you are not able to navigate your own boat under these bridges. During normal working hours (9am-5pm), 7 days a week you can find a pilot service running, these pilots will jump aboard your boat and navigate your boat under these low bridges for you (believe me they are good!). There are also a range of other bridges around the Broads that you need to pay attention to when cruising towards. Becuase the rivers are tidal, waters go up and down, thus making it difficult to go under bridges. Be sure to watch out for these bridges, paying attention to the water level guides on the lead up to the bridges and the height of your own vessel so you know if you can make it under these bridges. If not, just turn around and moor up for a while until the levels lower again.

  • Moorings – If you are looking for somewhere to moor up for the night (or just for a couple of hours) but sure to check where you are mooring to see if you are allowed. Around the Broads there is plenty of mooring, and you will see signs letting you know if you can or cannot moor. Watch out for “private moorings only” signed areas or just simply “no mooring allowed”. There are plenty of “free mooring” areas all signed by the Broads Authority allowing daytime/overnight moorings free of charge and chargeable moorings, mostly at private land such as riverside pubs.

What to pack

If you are holidaying in the summer (and know how typically wet one minute and blisteringly hot the next) I really do recommend packing for all weathers. Leading up to our holiday we’d had 5 weeks of stunning hot weather (30c most days) and we received advise to pack for hot weather, the UV and heat reflecting off the waters can be really hot in the height of summer. Other items I recommend to pack is insect repellent, if you moor up in a boggy area you will get visitors off the mosquito family. Comfortable and supporting footwear especially if you will be person jumping on and off to boat to help with mooring and tying your boat up. Additional essentials which you will be advised from your boat hiring company include towels, torch and bottled water.

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