A Norfolk Broad

No, I don’t mean a woman – at not in the traditional sense – I mean a boat – the Queen of the Broads to be precise. She was launched in 1977 and takes 160 visitors twice a day around the magical Broads.

Swans in Wroxham

The Broads are one of the places you can only experience by water and Broads Tours was created to give visitors a glimpse at the heart of this watery haven.

It began when a group of men persuaded a friend to take them around by boat. As they all differed in opinion about where they wanted to go it was decided they would each rent a boat from their friend and go their own way.

You can still do that today by choosing either a guided passenger trip or renting a boat for yourself.

Many people choose this as a holiday destination renting a houseboat or holiday home and cruising around the 120 miles of waterways.

Once upon a time, in the foggy mists of history much of Norfolk was wetland, but as more people moved to the area the marshes were drained for agricultural land.

When the Norsemen arrives they were appalled to discover the locals using timber for fuel. Timber was held sacred by the Norse and used only for ships.

They dug deep into the marshland to discover rich deposits of peat and started the process of what is now the Broads.

From the 12th to the 14th century great pits were dug to extract peat.

Gradually, they filled up with water creating one of the most important communication and trade networks in the country.

In those days Norwich was second only to London and Great Yarmouth was an important port for wool, agriculture and weaving.

In the 18th century it became an important tourist destination and is nowadays used largely for recreation.

George Formby’s House

You may not know the ukulele, but one of the world’s top players, George Formby, owned a house on the Broads where spent holidays with his beloved wife Beryl.

Houses here have to be built on deep piles and raised to prevent flooding.

Most choose the lightest construction methods they can find using the traditional thatching to reduce the weight of the roof.

One gorgeous home is on sale for the paltry amount of 1.5 million pounds.

The Broads is home to an enormous amount of plant, bird and animal life and speed limits on the waterways are strictly adhered to.

Should you speed, the water police will intercept you, fine you and may ban you from using the water.

This is to protect the many nesting birds you can see along the banks or swimming along trying to keep groups of young fledglings going in the same direction.

The two-hour trip takes you far away from the smog of the city and right into the heart of Wind in the Willows. I think Mr. Toad would have chosen George Formby’s house.

The best way to make a day of it, is to catch a steam train from the Bure Valley Railway in Aylsham, travel through the countryside to Wroxham and then take a boat ride through the Broads.

Simply messing about in boats

“The Mole was bewitched, entranced, fascinated. By the side of the river he trotted as one trots, when very small, by the side of a man who holds one spell-bound by exciting stories; and when tired at last, he sat on the bank, while the river still chattered on to him, a babbling procession of the best stories in the world, sent from the heart of the earth to be told at last to the insatiable sea.” Kenneth Grahame, The Wind in the Willows, Ch. 1

You can find Broads Tours online here: http://www.broadstours.co.uk

Or follow them on facebook: https://www.facebook.com/NorfolkBroadsBoatingHolidays

And the Buhr Valley Railway here: http://www.bvrw.co.uk/

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