Canoeing, kayaking and paddleboarding
Canoeing, kayaking and paddleboarding the Broads
With freedom to move on your own terms and a different perspective on the beauty of the Broads, intrepid explorers should consider taking to the waters on less conventional craft.
With exceptional views and a vast array of flourishing flora and fauna, some being unique to The Broads National Park, these thriving waterways and landscapes are best explored up close.
Anyone from a first timer, all the way up to an experienced paddler can take part. Whether you want to enrol in a half-day trail, or complete a 3-day bush craft camp, there’s an adventure to be had out here for everyone.
With a variety of canoe, kayak and paddleboard hire centres available, you can choose a trail based on its length and location to best suit you. The Norfolk Broads Authority has published Waterways Code leaflets which will help you stay safe on or near the water.
No matter your level of experience, we strongly urge anyone taking part in paddle sports to wear a buoyancy aid at all times, and a tether (leash) if you are stand-up paddleboarding. You can find more important safety information by visiting the Broads Authority’s canoeing, kayaking and paddleboarding page.
Do I need a licence?
If you are a member of British Canoeing, you are licensed to canoe, kayak or stand up paddleboard on any of the Broads Authority waterways including the main rivers and associated broads and dykes without the need to pay a toll on your craft.
If you are not a member of British Canoeing, you will require either a Broads Authority short visit toll or an annual toll (depending on how frequently you plan on using the waterways).
There are canoe launching points throughout the Broads.
Where can I launch?
The Broads is dotted with slipways and launching points from which you can get your craft in and out of the water.
Many of these launch points will be free to use, but some may charge a launching fee so please check ahead of time.
There may also be limited parking at certain locations and again, paddlers should check ahead of time to ensure they can be accommodated.
Please be aware that commercial canoeing and stand-up paddleboarding ventures are only authorised to launch and retrieve their vessels from these locations. Any on-shore training sessions, safety briefs or vessel storage is strictly prohibited.
Where can I paddle?
Explore the Broads by canoe
Canoeing and paddleboarding are great ways to discover this beautiful wetland, and as they’re silent, you will be able to get closer to the wildlife which includes water voles, great crested grebes and even otters.
Discover the many nooks, crannies and otherwise inaccessible areas out of view from both passing pedestrians and larger pleasure boats. Be aware that you must respect nature reserves and paddle away from the edges to minimise disturbance to breeding birds. We also do not recommend paddling in the lower reaches as these more tidal waters will require you to be extremely experienced, fit and able.
To help you navigate your way around, The Norfolk Broads Authority have produced a number of paddle trail maps that give you the chance to experience everything from an hours paddle out to a full day’s excursion:
- Bungay loop canoe trail
- Bungay to Geldeston canoe trail
- Geldeston canoe trails
- Norwich canoe trail
- Norwich to Rockland canoe trail
- Rockland to Loddon canoe trail
- Salhouse Broad canoe trails
- Wayford Bridge and Sutton canoe trails
You can also download a free app that will allow you to scan the code on signs to get info on your phone. The Norfolk Broads Authority have produced QR code signs at the five places listed below, so you can find out about these here on their website or read it whilst actually out and about on your canoe or your paddleboard.
View more canoe, kayak and paddleboard events in the Norfolk Broads Authority boating listings.
Other Private Canoe parks include:-
Three rivers pitch and paddle – 6.9 miles
This is a great place for camping and also canoe, boat and paddle board hire. Do book ahead in the season.
Sailing on the Broads
Catch the wind in your sails
Exhilarating and affordable, sailing on the Broads has been a traditional pastime since the turn of the century. Explore the many unique landscapes and while completely immersed in nature, you’re never too far away from civilisation. Take in the surrounding peace and open space on your yacht. At dusk, beautiful sunsets shimmer over the waters, creating mystical glows and mesmerising colour palettes for you to appreciate on deck before enjoying a supper under a sky full of stars.
There are a number of vessel choices when it comes to going on a sailing holiday including cabin yachts, half-decker style boats or even wherries! For those who want to stay on deck for the whole holiday, a cabin yacht is essential. Featuring home comforts, living space and cooking appliances, these deluxe vessels ensure you have a comfortable ride. Although not as luxurious, half-deckers can really enhance your Broads experience, getting you as close to nature as possible. Finally, wherries are large, impressive boats and some of them (WYC and Wherry Trust owned) can be chartered during the main season and accommodate up to 12 passengers at a time on a self-catering basis, with full use of a galley kitchen and toilet included. Read the Norfolk wherries section below for further information.
Skilled boat hand or complete novice, a sailing trip on the Broads with your friends or family is sure to be a memorable experience. Whether you take on the waters for a spot of relaxation, a feeling of freedom or a maybe just a sense of achievement, a sailing trip here remains a holiday to be enjoyed by many for years to come.
Learn to sail and much more at Whitlingham Outdoor Education Centre
You need not fret if you don’t know your tacking from your jibing, the Broads National Park is blessed with an abundance of renowned yacht clubs and schools, making it the perfect place to get a taste of this classic sport. A range of RYA accredited and non RYA courses operate from a variety of different locations across the Broads, ensuring there are lessons suitable for all abilities.
Go cycling in the Broads
Take it up a gear
It might not have the high octane rush offered by the mountains in the more northerly national parks but the rolling hills, pretty lanes and trails of the Broads suit nearly all levels and abilities and make it great for family bike trips.
What to bring
Hire a bike or bring your own
First you’ll need to decide on the bike. If you don’t want to bring your own, there are plenty of places offering bike hire for the length of your holidays or day trip. If do decide to hire, make sure you think about the routes you might want to cycle and ask for advice on the best bike for you.
Dress for the weather
Next, you’ll need to think about what to wear. While the Broads are situated in the one of the driest and sunniest parts of the country, you still need to make sure you’re prepared for all weathers. A choice of long and short sleeve cycling jerseys, jackets, gloves and arm and leg warmers should make sure you’re ready for anything. And don’t forget to pack a waterproof.
Finally, don’t forget to think about safety. A backpack containing a water bottle and a map are essential. As is a sturdy cycling helmet!
Remember that cycling is a hugely popular pastime in this part of the world, with both locals and visitors. If you do forget anything on your list, you won’t struggle to find it once you get here.
Finding a route
With so much to explore, you might need some help planning a route.
Simply grab your helmet, choose one of the routes below, download the gpx file (or print out a copy) and hop on your bike for a great day out exploring the idyllic Broads National Park:
- Three Rivers Way Hoveton to Horning (2.5 miles)
- Stokesby Loop (8 miles)
- Grand Estate Cycle Route (11 miles)
- Reedham (12 miles)
- Thurne to Somerton (15 miles)
- Loddon to Gillingham (17 miles)
- Horsey to Bastwick (19 miles)
- Bure Valley Railway Loop (19 miles)
- Marriot’s Way (25 miles)
- Southern Broads Loop (38 miles)
Number one route
The number one National Cycling Route passes through parts of the park but if you’re not quite up to that level of commitment there are a range of circular rides throughout the Broads.
Please visit Broads by Bike to find out more about cycle routes.
Bicycle hire in Norfolk
Whittlingham country park – 6 miles
Riverside Leisure centre Norwich
Explore the Broads by horseback
The Broads National Park offers equestrians a unique and unforgettable experience within one of the UK’s most ecologically diverse landscapes. Horse riding is also an excellent way to keep yourself fit and enjoy the great outdoors.
There’s plenty of choice when it comes to horse-friendly routes in the Broads National Park
With 20 bridleways located within the National Park, there should be a route to suit you and your horse. For full details on all the bridleways you can access, we recommend you refer to The Broads – OS Explorer map series. For more information on access and bridleways, visit the British Horse Society website.
A few of our favourite routes are listed below:
- Ellingham – Bridleway number BR4
- Filby – Bridleway number RB4
- Fritton & St OIaves – Bridleway number BR7
- Geldeston – Bridleway number BR11
- Halvergate – Bridleway number BR9
- Horning – Bridleway number RB19
- Horstead – Bridleway number BR9
- Ludham – Bridleway number RB24
- Mautby – Bridleway number RB8
- West Caister – Bridleway number BR7
As well as bridleways, there are also riding schools for those new to the sport or who want to enhance their riding skills.
Hot to Trot – 13 miles
Pakefield riding school – riding for the disabled – 15 miles
Hot to Trot school of Equitation
Pakefield Riding School
Pakefield riding school also offer riding for the disabled (RDA)
Annabelles Equestrian Ltd
Famous for fishing
The Broads is the ideal setting for angling and has a thriving (yet welcoming) angling scene. The coarse fishing season runs from 16 June to 14 March and all you need to fish in the Broads is a current Environment Agency licence, available from post offices and online.
If you would like to learn more about angling, there’s lots of great information on the Broads Authority’s angling information page or the downloadable Angle on the Broads publication which is produced by the Environment Agency.
Angling on the Waveney at Worlingham
As the Broads is such an important landscape demanding the involvement of various authorities, the Broads Angling Strategy Group (BASG) was formed. The BASG aims to ensure that angling within this unique waterland can be enjoyed responsibly, providing guidance and information suitable for anglers of all levels.
Accessible angling on the Broads
A diverse range of fish species make the Broads their home meaning you are never quite sure what you might encounter whilst angling. Common species found in the Broads include bream, rudd, tench, roach, perch, carp and the carnivorous pike. Luckily, the BASG provide fishing guides on their website with suggested baits and techniques to help you get out there and improve your chances of making a catch!
The Broads Authority and the Environment Agency are working to install more wheelchair-accessible fishing platforms in the Broads area, and improving accessibility is one of the key themes of the BASG. Some of the best places to get information on where to fish if you use a wheelchair are the tackle shops.
The BASG offers coaching sessions with experienced anglers allowing an increasing number of people to try out angling and develop their skills. Working with the Broads Authority, the BASG aim to inspire the next generation, ensuring young anglers can get out there and enjoy the sport.
Fishing in Norfolk
Fishing in Suffolk
The Coastal Exploration company
The Canoe man