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Boating Holidays on the Norfolk Broads. Enjoying Your Holiday.

Updated on April 10, 2018
GALAXY 59 profile image

Galaxy is an experienced traveller and nature lover with a deep love of the ocean. She enjoys all forms of travel, but she likes boats best.

Stunningly Beautiful Scenery on the Norfolk Broads.

The Norfolk Broads are stunningly peaceful and picturesque.
The Norfolk Broads are stunningly peaceful and picturesque. | Source

The Norfolk Broads - Boat Hire.

The Norfolk Broads are outstandingly beautiful, bursting with life and a very popular holiday destination for nature lovers and boating enthusiasts alike. The best way to see the Broads is from the water onboard your very own floating holiday home.

Several companies hire boats for use on the broads, from small day boats to larger ones that are hired by the week. We chose a company called Richardson's, they were reasonably priced, friendly and very efficient. If you are a novice sailor then they take you out for a short lesson before you set off on your own. The boats are very easy to drive, much easier than a car and a lot more fun.

Whichever boat you decide on there are a few things you will need to make your holiday as smooth as possible.

1) Towels, these are not provided.

2) Rubber soled deck shoes and a waterproof jacket.

3) A good quality torch and spare batteries.

4) Food and drink, there are very few shops on the Broads.

5) A first aid kit.

6) Toiletries, shower gel and shampoo.

7) Camera and good binoculars.

8) T-towels and cleaning sponge.

Essential items for your holiday.

Food and drink
Rubber soled deck shoes
Torch and spare batteries
First aid kit

Bring everything you need with you, shops are few and far between on the Norfolk Broads.

Go shopping before picking up the boat.

You will need to do a big shop before collecting your hire boat. You are going to need the car, the shops are a long way from the waterside.

Finding the Broads.

The Norfolk Broads are situated on the eastern coast of the United Kingdom. Covering over one hundred and twenty miles of navigable waterways, with a total of sixty three wide but shallow broads and seven rivers.

Of the sixty three broads only thirteen are generally open to the public but that is an ample amount when you consider the very low speed limit on the water.

You drift along and have plenty of time to see everything, it's not like racing by in a car, where as soon as you see something interesting you are a mile beyond it!

The Norfolk Broads.

Park Your car, Pick up Your Boat and Unpack.

When you arrive at the hire yard, park your car next to your boat and unpack before moving the car to its space for the week. Secure parking is included in the hire price. Have a good look at the boat before setting off and make sure you are happy and confident before starting your holiday. This is the time to ensure you haven't forgotten anything, you don't want to have to come back as the boats move at a very slow speed. All of the boats have decent hanging space and storage for your bags. Soft bags are much better than rigid suitcases as they are easier to stow away.

Pack comfortable clothes and flat sensible shoes, you really don't have to dress up for this type of holiday.

Space is limited on board, no matter which type you hire. Rooms and hallways are narrow and the bathrooms can be a bit of a tight fit. In my opinion, these things only add to the charm of this type of holiday. Beds are on the small side but are comfortable, with good bed linen and decent pillows.

Don't bother to bring electrical items such as hairdryers or straighteners from home, they won't work on the boat. You can ask for a low voltage hairdryer at the hire office, they are free of charge. In car phone chargers will work so remember to bring one.

What can you Expect to Find on Your Hire Boat?

All the hire boats come with certain standard facilities.

1) A well-equipped kitchen with a small fridge and cooker, many also have a microwave.

2) Shower and toilet.

3) Hot and cold water.

4) Bedding and warm duvets.

5) Heating.

6) Life jackets.

7) TV and DVD player/cd player

Facilities on the Boat.

Well equiped kitchen
Shower and toilet
Hot and cold water
Bedding duvet
Life jackets
DVD player
CD player

The boats are well equipped.

Dark Skies, Stars and Badgers.

Don't expect to get very good reception on the tv provided, it is useful if you bring a few DVD's to watch but not for watching live programmes. The Broads are magical at night, foxes and badgers walk along the towpaths and you often hear the splash of an otter right next to the boat. Sitting out on the deck, enjoying a glass of wine and looking up at the night sky filled with stars made visible because of the lack of light pollution is far better than anything on the tv.

Depending on where you decide to stop for the night there is often a pub within walking distance. This is where the torch comes in handy as the towpaths are not well lit at night.

One of the Many Windmills on the Norfolk Broads.

Windmill by the side of the lake on the Norfolk Broads.
Windmill by the side of the lake on the Norfolk Broads. | Source

Calm and Peaceful Waterways.

The waterways are calm and peaceful, plenty are wide enough for two boats to pass each other easily. You wouldn't think it to look at the above picture but the main road was only a few yards away from the edge of the swaying reed bed. Noise from the road was almost non-existent as cars are few and far between in the area. But it does mean that you can tie your boat up on the bank and walk to a local pub or the shops.

Of the many windmills left standing on the broads, I believe only one is still operational and used to mill flour. They do make great landmarks and an interesting place for birds to roost.

The ice cream boat on The Norfolk Broads.

Ice cream boat on the Norfolk Broads.
Ice cream boat on the Norfolk Broads. | Source

A Floating Billboard. Anyone for Ice cream?

On the Norfolk Broads, you often come across a young man who spends his days pottering about the water selling ice cream from his small boat.

The boat itself tells everyone just what it is selling, with its huge colourful ice cream cone and giant chocolate flake sticking out the top of the bow. It makes you smile just to look at it. I think we hailed him down at least once a day during our trip. Gives a whole new meaning to the saying stop me and buy one.

During the summer months, the waterways can be filled with pleasure boats, when the ice cream boat appears you cut your engine and wave at the young man driving. He pulls alongside, hooks onto your craft and you chose your goods. Children in particular love buying their ice creams and lollies this way, it is such a novelty for them.

Most of the boats have small freezers on board, so you can take the chance and stock up on ice cream for a few days.

I think I enjoyed the ice creams all the more because of the unusual delivery system. It's not everyone who can say they have had to almost swim for their treats!

Dream job?

What do you think, could you see yourself doing this for a living?

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Travel at your own pace.

The beauty of a holiday on the Norfolk Broads is the pace at which you travel. Slow enough to not miss anything.

Hitchhiking ducks.

I love the fact that you putter along so slowly that very often passing ducks hitch a ride on the side of the boat. Keep some stale brown bread to feed them and you have a friend for life!

The large herons are much more interested in catching their own meals and tend to look upon a piece of floating bread with disgust. They are a very regal looking bird and surprisingly large when viewed close up.

A Hitchiking Duck.

Duck hitching a ride on a boat.
Duck hitching a ride on a boat. | Source

Herons are a Common Sight on the Norfolk Broads.

Heron fishing by the side of the water on the Norfolk Broads.
Heron fishing by the side of the water on the Norfolk Broads. | Source

Please take the time to answer this short poll. Thank you.

Have you ever tried a boating holiday?

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The Disabled Traveller.

A very limited number of hire boats are adapted for wheelchair users.

The Less Able Bodied Traveler.

Some of the hire companies provide a small number of wheelchair accessible boats. These have a roll on roll off ramp, wider gangways on board and adapted bathrooms. The towpaths can be a bit of a problem unless you have an all-terrain chair, they are very uneven and can be slippery. The majority of the pubs and cafes on the Broads have disabled facilities.

Getting on and off the ordinary boats can be a problem if you are less able-bodied, there can be quite a wide step from boat to shore. If there are only two people travelling one will need to steer the boat and the other will be needed to jump off the boat to tie up the mooring rope. In my experience, if there is anyone about on the shore they rush to help, there is a real feeling of community on the Broads and we have made lasting friends from strangers who have helped us in this way.

In Conclusion.

In conclusion, the Norfolk Broads is a great place for a slow-paced, peaceful holiday. Life cannot be rushed here, you drift around not doing much but seeing plenty. It is probably the most relaxing holiday you can imagine, short of spending all day lying on a beach. You find all of your worries falling away as quietly and gently as the boat drifting on the flat, clear water. I can't wait to go back.

© 2012 Galaxy Harvey


Submit a Comment
  • GALAXY 59 profile imageAUTHOR

    Galaxy Harvey 

    9 years ago from United Kingdom

    Thank you alcalderon. I must admit I was envious of the guy driving the ice cream boat, such a great place to work.

  • alcalderon profile image


    9 years ago from Orange County, Ca

    I absolutely love this post. Makes me feel like I can be free and productive at the same time.


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