Wildlife, wilderness, Champagne sunsets and a lot of laughs, this is why we love boating on the Broads
Written by Emma Kemsley
I’ve always loved the Norfolk Broads, the calm waters make for easy navigating and there’s a huge sense of achievement skippering a boat. I often visited the Broads as a child where I’d spend my days drawing pictures of the scenery and screaming in horror as ducks disappeared under the boat.
A few years ago, my trip was spent lounging on the sundeck, thanks to some great May weather, while everyone else did the hard work. This time round I was keen to take the ropes and get behind the wheel.
So this is it, my story of what happens when a group of five girls and one crazy Cockerspaniel take to the Broads on a 44ft boat…
We arrived at Potter Heigham on a sunny Friday afternoon to collect our boat, the Regal Light, from the Herbert Woods boatyard.
Check-in was smooth and easy and we began to load our supplies of cheese, chocolate and Champagne on board.
With four cabins, three bathrooms, duel steering and sundeck, the Regal Light is a spacious and well-equipped choice for groups – there was even room for 15 pairs of shoes and a dog bed!
Once settled we were given full instructions and a demonstration by one of the Herbert Woods team and a quick visit from the Broadsbeat; a friendly police team dedicated to the safety and security on the Broads.
We then made our way to the first stop of the weekend Ranworth; a beautiful reedy wilderness.
Considering it was April, the port was packed with luxury motor cruisers. We were lucky enough to nab one of last remaining mooring spots.
After an initial panic at the thought of reversing, my friend came to the rescue with some pretty impressive parking skills. One swift movement and we were safely moored and hooked up to our electric point. We wrapped up, cozied down on the al fresco dining area, poured the wine and waited for the sun to set.
Before we knew it, we were soon helping a stag-do of 12 moor their boat. After feeling rather smug with our own mooring skills, we wasted no time in bragging about own our abilities!
One of the great things about the Broads is it appeals to all types of groups – family breaks, girly weekends, romantic getaways, stag and hen-dos – thanks to the many pubs dotted along the banks.
Off we went for dinner at The Maltsters pub and thanks to the stag-do, one too many bottles of wine (I can’t tell you the number, I fear I may be sent to aa). Read our guide to the best pubs on the Norfolk Broads.
Places to visit on the Norfolk Broads
Saturday was spent cruising up and down the Broads with pit stops at Wroxham and Horning, a pub lunch and wet dog walk before navigating a tiny bridge at Ludham.
Despite the torrential rain we still managed to have plenty of fun, admire the scenery and was treated to a stunning sunset.
The next morning after a comfortable night’s sleep, we awoke to blue skies and wasted no time in making the most of it. I headed out with the dog for a walk along the bank, while my friend continued her marathon training with a beautiful riverside run.
It was then onto the ruins of St Benet’s Abbey. The ruins are a great place to learn more about the Broads history and enjoy the quietness. Tea and cake in the sunshine followed, before we made our way back to the boatyard.
The weekend taught us a lot – the weather doesn’t need to be fantastic to still have a great time on the Broads, you will fall over at some point (mud and wet surfaces aren’t suitable for clumsy girls), the Broads are very dog-friendly, the scenery spectacular and one of us has a potential career as a cruise liner captain!
Herbert Woods has over 400 boats in its fleet so there’s plenty of options to choose from. A three night stay on the Regal Light costs from £763 during low season. Day trip boat hire is also available at www.herbertwoods.co.uk.