Sailing on the Broads
Carlton Marshes
Hickling Broad
How Hill
Boats at Wroxham
Potter Heigham
Sutton Mill

The Norfolk Broads


The Norfolk Broads, Britains newest national park and largest nationally protected wetland. The Norfolk Broads attract more than two million visitors a year

The Norfolk Broads are Britain's largest nationally protected wetland, measuring 303 sq km.

Broads are actually shallow lakes and alongside them sit rivers, marshes and fens all of which make up the famous and beautiful Norfolk Broads.

The Norfolk Broads are rich in rare habitats, which support innumerable plants and animals. Globally, wetlands are among the most threatened of landscapes.

The Broads are also one of Europe's most popular inland waterways. In fact, they were once an essential transport network. Today the waterways are used for recreation and the Broads area attracts more than two million visitors a year.

The Norfolk Broads have a special place in many people’s hearts and the area is one of the international family of national parks.

The blend of wildlife, distinctive landscapes and buildings, and the opportunities for people to relax and enjoy themselves both on land and on many kilometres of lock-free navigable waterways is unique and well worth a visit.


The Broads is a fascinating and varied area with a rich history that is reflected in the many places to visit. There are restored windmills, medieval churches, beautiful gardens and magnificent houses to visit. Or, if you enjoy walking or cycling, there are also many routes to choose from. 

Some of the individual broads themselves are nature reserves, for example Barton and Hickling Broads. There are also many nature reserves in the Broads where you can see examples of the traditional Broads landscapes and the wildlife that lives there. 

Some broads have trails, boat trips or other facilities. Some nature reserves hold events and activity days for children, for example the Suffolk Broads Wildlife Centre, based at Carlton Marshes.   

Dogs are allowed on public rights of way but many broads sites do not allow them, so please check before visiting. 

Broads to visit: (Open daily unless otherwise stated)

Wroxham – known as the capital of the Norfolk Broads, there is plenty to keep you occupied in Wroxham. There are boats of all kinds for hire and an abundance of hotels, pubs, restaurants, shops and a large department store. Most of the shopping is dominated by Roy’s, the World’s largest village store! Wroxham contains many visitor attractions including a riverside park, the Bure Valley steam railway, Hoveton Hall gardens and Wroxham Barns craft centre. The village certainly is very busy in high season, but is open all year round and well worth a visit. A little way out of the village centre is Wroxham Broad, home to the Norfolk Broads Yacht Club.

Ranworth – home to the Broads Wildlife Centre – has a nature trail through woodland and fen to open water and a wildlife centre floating on a pontoon on Ranworth Broad. The nature trail is open all year, boat trips on Ranworth Broad are also available and the centre is open April - October daily 10.00am-5.00pm. For details and to book for boat trips, please telephone 01603 270479. 

Barton Broad - second largest broad and site of the Broads Authority's millennium project - Clear Water 2000, which has restored the water quality and landscape of the broad. There is a Boardwalk and boat trips are available on the Ra, a solar powered boat.

Hickling Broad – One of the most famous broads, Hickling has a boarded walkway to the broad, walking and water trails and a visitor centre. The reserve is open daily 10.00am-5.00pm and the centre is open April - September, daily 10.00am-5.00pm. For details and to book boat trips, please telephone 01692 598276. 

Horsey Mere - open water, reed-beds and grazing marshes, Horsey Mere is a Wildfowl sanctuary of international importance.

Hoveton Great Broad – here you can trail through carr woodland on the edge of the broad. However it is accessible by water only, with moorings on the River Bure beside the entrance. The broad is open 9 April - 14 September Sunday - Thursday 10.00am-5.00pm.

How Hill - near Ludham, How Hill has a walking trail and water trail on the 'Electric Eel' through open water, fen, grazing marsh and carr woodland. There are three windpumps on the reserve, to visit. The site is open 1 April to 31 May and 1-31 October, daily 10.30am-5.00pm; 1 June to 30 September, daily 9.30am-6.00pm. To book for the 'Electric Eel' Water Trail, please telephone 01692 678763

Wheatfen - Ted Ellis Nature Reserve - near Surlingham, this site is home to open fen, reed-beds, alder and willow woodlands and two small broads with over three miles of nature trail, some parts are suitable for wheelchairs. Some paths may be closed due to periodic flooding.

Alderfen Broad - near Neatishead, home to Water lilies, wildfowl, dragonflies and damselflies.

Berney Marshes – houses a huge expanse of grazing marshes, part of the Halvergate Marshes area. This site is easily reachable by train from Norwich or Great Yarmouth, or by footpath from Halvergate or Great Yarmouth.

Breydon Water – situated at the confluence of the Rivers Yare and Waveney, Breydon water is a good site to see geese, ducks and waders. The RSPB runs boat trips from here. For dates or to book please telephone 01603 715191 or 01493 700645.

Carlton Marshes – home to the Suffolk Broads Wildlife Centre and a variety of walks across grazing marshes. Events include children's activity days. For more details and visitors centre opening times, please telephone 01502 564250.

Cockshoot Broad - near Woodbastwick, this broad is home to a boarded walkway to a bird hide overlooking the broad. It is also the site of the pioneering project to restore clear water and wildlife.

Hardley Flood - near Loddon and can be seen from River Chet footpath, this area is permanently flooded but good for spotting a large variety of insects and birds. 

Ludham Marshes - national nature reserve near Womack Water.

North Cove - near Beccles, home to grazing marsh, wet woodland and pools.

Oulton Marshes - these marshes are reached by path from Oulton Church.

Strumpshaw Fen – has reed-beds, grazing marshes and woodland along banks of River Yare with walking trails, hides and an information centre.

Surlingham Church Marsh - former grazing marsh with pools, dykes and summer marsh and meadow flowers. Has a circular walk and bird hides - best for birds in spring.

Upton Fen – here there are walks through tangled fen and woodland, close to Upton Broad.


Other Broads related sites to visit:

Stalham - Museum of the Broads - situated at Stalham Staithe, the museum has varied exhibitions on Broads history, including tools from traditional Broads industries and many types of boat. Boat trips are also available on the steam launch Falcon, for more information or to book please telephone 01692 581681. The museum is open April - October daily 11.00am-5.00pm.



Last Updated: 28 Apr 2015