Dog-friendly holidays on the Norfolk Broads
It may still be the depths of winter outside, but spring’s not far away and nor is the Broads National Park, with outdoor activities and places for all to explore – including your dog.
Woodlands, marshes, riverbanks, even the waterways of the Broads can be great places to enjoy a day, a weekend or a longer visit accompanied by your dog.
Many self-catering properties and holiday boats welcome dogs, as do many visitor attractions, pubs and some other eating places.
Some Broads boat trips welcome dogs, such as Broads Tours at Wroxham in the Northern Broads and Waveney River Tours which go from Oulton Broad in the Southern Broads. Also down south and close to Oulton Broad you’ll find Suffolk Wildlife Trust’s wonderful Carlton Marshes Nature Reserve, where well behaved dogs on leads are welcome.
Walking on the Norfolk Broads
The Broads definitely isn’t just for boating – it has over 190 miles (300km) of footpaths for free, outdoor activity on land, with circular walks from many villages and moorings. Several long-distance routes run through the area. In the south, the Wherryman’s Way follows the River Yare from Norwich to Great Yarmouth, from where the Angles Way continues south and into the Suffolk Brecks, while the Weavers’ Way passes though the Northern Broads and then goes on to North Norfolk. The Norfolk Coast Path takes in Horsey and Winterton, and the first part of the Three Rivers Way waking and cycling route is now open between Hoveton and Horning. Plus from Wroxham the narrow gauge Bure Valley Railway runs to Aylsham, with a walking and cycling route alongside it.
Places to visit on the Norfolk Broads
Two outstanding historical sites in the Broads are happy to welcome dogs. Burgh Castle, overlooking Breydon Water where the rivers Yare and Waveney meet, is the remains of a third-century Roman fort, built to defend the coast from Saxon raiders. It’s a lovely place for a walk as well as somewhere to absorb the history of the Broads and to enjoy one of the best views in the national park. On the River Bure, and near the rivers Ant and Thurne too, you’ll find the ruins of St Benet’s Abbey. Religious hermits may have lived at the site as early as the 9th century. There are lovely walks to the abbey from the village of Ludham and from Ludham Bridge.
Fairhaven Woodland and Water Garden at South Walsham has lots for children and adults to explore, and is happy to welcome dogs too. Its organically managed ancient woodland is a fantastic habitat for wildlife, plus it has its own broad, with boat trips which accept dogs. The garden, tea room, gift shop, plant sales and one the boats are fully accessible. At Horsey, the National Trust site welcomes dogs on leads and there’s a little boat trip from the staithe or mooring place which will take you and your dog out on to Horsey Mere.
If you’d like to combine a city visit to Norwich with some outdoor activity close by, head to Whitlingham Country Park at Trowse. There’s a wheelchair accessible path around Whitlingham Great Broad and there are other walks through tranquil meadows and ancient woodlands.
There may be charges or conditions concerning dogs, so please check on the details with individual companies or organisations, and also check details in relation to assistance dogs. Dogs are allowed on footpaths, bridleways and byways (public rights of way) under effective control, though many nature reserves don’t allow dogs, and routes called permissive paths may not allow dogs.
If you are taking your dog boating, do look after it on or near the water. Dogs are just as susceptible to cold water and other hazards as people. You can buy dog life jackets from boating suppliers, and some hire boatyards provide or rent life jackets for customers’ pets.
A dog isn’t just for Christmas, dogs can enjoy a visit to the Broads too!
For more details on everything mentioned here and lots more besides, contact the Broads National Park’s Whitlingham Visitor Centre on 01603 756094 or go to www.VisitTheBroads.co.uk