Go walking in the Broads
Take a walk
Whether you’re in the area on holiday or you’ve got a few hours with the dog, there’s every excuse to pull on your outdoor gear and get into the open. Hardy walkers will enjoy the long distance trails for day-long hiking. For those seeking temporary escape, there are shorter rambles, and even circular routes to make sure you end up back at the car or boat. If the nostalgia of sandwiches and a flask bring a smile to your face, there are plenty of places to sit and unpack your lunch while you take a break but, if not, warm pubs and pretty tea shops make perfect stop-off points for a little refreshment.
Whether you have a day planned, an afternoon to while away or just an hour to spare there’s a waymarked route for you. If you’d like to know more about where to walk, park or moor and what you’re likely to see, click here for local information and useful maps.
A relatively mild climate and easy-going conditions are part of the joy of coming to the Broads. Without high peaks to climb or tough, rocky trails to follow, it’s perfect for families and those looking for a gentle ramble without the fuss. That said, there are a few things you may want to consider before you leave the car and set out to enjoy your day.
Good footwear is essential. It depends on where you’re walking and what time of year it is, but there are times when there’s nothing like a pair of well-fitting walking boots for supporting your ankles and protecting your feet – particularly if the ground is uneven or marshy.
Facing the elements
Many experienced walkers carry a daypack. Even during the summer months, you never know when the weather may take an unexpected turn, so a waterproof is essential. Then there’s a first aid kit, maps, water and snacks. Some enthusiasts pack a whistle and a basic survival kit too if they’re likely to be in remote areas or walking long distances.
Don’t forget suncream. A cool breeze or cloudy conditions can take the heat out of the sun’s rays on a summer’s day, but you’ll notice the burn later in the evening when the damage is already done. A child’s skin is even more sensitive, so make sure you pack the right factor protection for them too, or better still, cover them up or take them on a shady woodland adventure when the sun in strong.
Finally, dress for the weather. We’ve mentioned carrying a waterproof and wearing the right shoes but don’t forget that the sheltered area of the carpark may give way to blustery conditions when you’re out in the open. Seals and waterbirds are well equipped to deal with the environment, make sure you are too.
Finding what you need
Kitting up is part of the fun and you’ll find plenty of outdoor shops selling parkas, rucksacks and good, cushioning socks. Talk to the staff, have a browse and then hit the great outdoors, confident in the knowledge that you have all you need for whatever it throws at you.
Whether you want to go for a short amble or wander away an entire afternoon, there are plenty of designed routes in the Broads that are just waiting to be explored. Simply choose one of the walks below, download the map guide (pdf) and get your boots on!
- Barton Broad
- Beccles Marsh Trail
- Bramerton Riverside Walk
- Burgh Castle
- Coltishall to Horstead
- Herringfleet Hills
- Irstead Staithe
- Loddon Marshes
- How Hill to St Benet’s Abbey Walk
- Surlingham Church Marsh
You’ll find lots more walks in our walking and cycling listings.
If you’d prefer to follow a route on your smartphone, we have uploaded loads of Broads walks onto our ViewRanger accountViewRanger lets you download and follow GPX routes on your mobile device through the use of a dedicated mobile app, ensuring you stay on the trail and can spend more time enjoying the beautiful scenery. Visit our ViewRanger page to view the full list of trails.
There are also many Broads walks on Alltrails, which is an alternative downloadable smart-phone app that lets you discover new walking routes.
Other hints and tips for Holidays at the Vine House
Skies are as much an inspiring part of Britain’s national parks as their landscapes but this is especially true in the Broads where gentle valleys, fens and water give way to endless skies and languid sunsets.
And at night these vast, open skies holds us as captivated as our ancestors were when gazing into the same other-worldly expanse.
Stargazing Live presenter and astronomer Mark Thompson, said the vast, unpolluted skies of the Broads in particular are great for stargazing.
You can get involved as little or as much as you want, whether simply lying back to admire the infinite web of constellations from a boat or heading out to Seething Observatory on the edge of the park.
Mark, who is also chairman of Norwich Astronomical Society (NAS) which runs the observatory, said that stargazing is a fantastic activity which keeps people grounded by demonstrating what a vast place the universe is and how insignificant a lot of our worries really are.
Mark advised that beyond the naked eye only a good pair of binoculars and one of the many free mapping apps is enough to take your stargazing a step further.
And the observatory is perfect if you’re keen for more with open evenings where members of the public can use the high tech telescopes to view things like the Orion nebula or listen to some great talks. Last year the observatory even hosted a talk by Dr Matt Taylor, one of the key figures behind the Mars Rosetta mission.
Chasing the stars
We’ve listed some of the best places in the Broads to star gaze. Do make sure to take a torch with you and be careful with your footing, especially near water.
- Herringfleet Smock Mill: A free car park on the Herringfleet road is half a mile’s walk from the mill along a waymarked footpath or moor up slightly down stream at one of the Broads Authority’s free spots near the staithe. Somerleyton train station is a mile away. Treat yourself to a post stargazing pint at the Duke’s Head in Somerleyton village.
- Three Rivers Junction at Geldeston: Park in the village and walk about a kilometre along the footpath to the river where Geldeston boat dyke meets the Waveney.
- Beccles Marsh Trail: From the quay walk quarter of an hour along the safe river Waveney path by to near Stanley and Alder Carrs woodland near the disused railway line.
- North Cove: You can drive all the way down to the river bank here along Worlingham Marsh Lane or tie up at the Broads Authority 24 hour mooring.
- St Benet’s Abbey moorings: Not one of the darkest spots according to surveys but certainly dark enough and a favourite of photographers because of the breathtaking silhouette of the ruins. The abbey can’t be reached after dark but sits right by the river so moor up at the 24-hour free spot next to the level surfaced path.
- Horsey: Indulge in some casual stargazing from a boat on the mere or park or moor at Horsey Mill. There is a National Trust pay and display carpark within 200m.
- Somerton, Dungeon’s Corner: Park in West Somerton village or tie up at the Broads Authority 24 hour mooring. From both these points Dungeon’s Corner, south of Martham broad on the river Thurne, is a 20 minute walk along the footpath.
- Catfield, Johnny Crowe’s Staithe: Park on Sharp Street and from Cobb’s Farm take a grass track to the staithe on the river Ant for one of the darkest spots in the Broads.
- Thurne Mill: Another great mill to add something to your great stargazing experience. Park near the Thurne Lion pub or take a short break from your evening there for some stargazing. It is an easy walk down along the boat dyke to this well-known mill.
The Norwich Astronomical Society run a number of local events, including special stargazing evenings at the Seething Observatory.
Dibs McCallum took the stunning picture used above of the night sky over Thurne Mill. And the good news is that he can also teach you to capture spectacular starry skies. Through The Lens Workshops are run throughout the year in Norfolk covering all kinds of photography including landscapes, wildlife and boating as well as astrophotography.