Cruise Intinerary from Stalham to Wroxham
This is a suggested itinerary for a one week family holiday cruise on a boat hired from Stalham on the River Ant with a midway destination of Wroxham on the River Bure and the return to Stalham, with ideas of where to stop and what to see in between.
Usual pick up time of boats is 3.00pm, so by the time you are on board and your stuff packed away and you have had your briefing on the handling of the boat, it will be probably around 5.00ish.
You could however arrive early and whilst waiting for your boat to become available, explore The Museum of the Broads which is almost next door to the boat yards and perhaps take a trip on a steam driven launch.
Once on board you probably can't wait to get moving, so head down River Ant towards Barton Turf and Neatishead. However leave the delights of these two villages for your return journey, continue across Barton Broad and follow the River Ant to How Hill and moor up there for the night.
It is worth spending a whole day here, there is so much to see and do. Explore the How Hill Windmill, How Hill House and Gardens and the Toad Hole Cottage Museum and take a guided trip on the Electric Eel boat.
The experienced guide onboard will show you the wildlife. Dragonflies, marsh harriers, wildflowers and swallowtail butterflies can all be seen here at different times of the year. The trip lasts 50 minutes, including a short walk to a bird hide. Booking is essential and it is not suitable for children under two.
The next day you can continue on, passing under Ludham Bridge and on towards the River Bure. Once you get to the junction of the rivers you can turn left and follow the signs to South Walsham Broad and stop at St Benets Abbey for lunch and moor up, lots of space for the children to run and the ruins to explore or continue on to the turning for South Walsham Broad. The journey time from How Hill is approximately 30 minutes. There are moorings but it is a long walk into the village, but worth it as there is a very good pub 'The Ship' in the village.
There is also Fairhaven Woodland and Water Gardens which is well worth a tour and there is plenty to keep the children occupied looking for flora and fauna and a cafe to keep the hunger pangs at bay.
To find somewhere a little livelier to spend the night, leave South Walsham dyke and turn left on the River Bure to continue your journey towards Wroxham. You will pass another turning marked Ranworth Broad, but leave that experience until your return trip. After approximately thirty minutes you will come into the pretty village of Horning. There are three pubs with moorings, the first is the Ferry Inn and with its huge children's play area bound to be a winner in burning off their energy while you have lunch. If you choose to stay the night here, a short walk will take you to Pedro’s Restaurant for tapas.
The second pub is the New Inn with moorings stern too and the third pub is The Swan, again with moorings.
The outdoor adventure play land 'BeWILDerwood' is also in Horning. This is a huge, award winning forest of family fun and outdoor adventure, with Treehouses, zip wires, jungle bridges, Crocklebogs, Twiggles and Boggles, storytelling, boat trips and marsh walks. A lovely way to spend a day and just perfect for smaller children.
If peace and quiet beckons you after a hectic day having fun, then you can caste off and spend the night on the Black Horse Broad which is just on your right hand side as you leave the village. It is a private Broad, very quiet and tranquil. As you swing gently on your mud weight, you can watch for marsh harriers, coots moorhens and of course the herons whilst enjoying a glass or two as the sun goes down.
Wroxham is about forty five minutes steaming from Horning. You will pass Salhouse Broad and Wroxham Broad. Cruise around them and take a good look. You may want to stay on Salhouse Broad on your return trip as you can moor stern to, great for BBQs and the meadows there entice the children to play and explore - there is even a little beach for paddling!
Once you reach the village of Wroxham, there are plenty of boat yards where you can moor. There is lots to see and do, the Miniature Train Museum, Bure Valley Steam Railway and Roys of Wroxham, the largest village store in the World. Wroxham Barns with its small animal petting zoo is a very short taxi ride.
There is a station at Wroxham and plenty of buses, so a trip in the City of Norwich is easy and well worth doing - castles and cathedrals to explore as well as really good shopping, theatres and museums.
So it is time to start thinking about returning to Stalham and taking in those sites you have not seen on your outward journey. In the morning, cruise gently out of Wroxham in the Horning direction and some fifteen minutes later just before you reach Salhouse Broad, you will see the Hoveton Great Broad Nature Trail on your left hand side. Moor up there and enjoy the trail, learn about conservation and restoration of Hoveton Great Broad which is one of the largest yet most secret lakes in The Broads. It's a key part of an internationally-important wetland landscape and created entirely by man!
Hop across the river from Hoveton Great Broad, into Salhouse Broad for the night. Moor up stern to and enjoy perhaps a picnic in the meadow or a BBQ and take a paddle off the beach and if you are lucky the Ice Cream boat will pass by - a '99' would be perfect dessert!
For dinner, a short and pleasant walk to the village of Woodbastwick will find the Fur and Feathers Pub. There is a micro brewery offering tours or after a longer walk into Salhouse Village there is The Bell Pub. Both pubs offer lovely food and good beer. Take a torch with you for the return journey.
Continue down the River Bure, through Horning until you come on to the right hand turning to Ranworth Broad and look to stop there for the night. Moor stern to the village green where you will find a shop, cafe and pub.
Ranworth Church tower is well worth climbing, the view is spectacular, on a good day, you can see most of the Northern Rivers and all the way to the coast. Enjoy a relaxing day and night in Ranworth and continue your journey up the River Ant in the morning.
Cruise up the River Ant under Ludham Bridge, past How Hill and onto Barton Broad. You then have several choices for your last night on board, either turn left and follow the signs to Neatishead Staithe. Moor in the staithe overnight and walk for three minutes to The White Horse Pub and enjoy a lovely supper. The village shop provides a good selection of stores and of course a must for that early coffee - the morning newspapers.
Or moor on the Broad itself and enjoy the peace and tranquility of the Broad, you may even see an otter or two frolicking close to the banks. Or steam cross the Broad and take the left hand fork to Barton Staithe. There are moorings available there and you could walk a mile or so into Neatishead and eat at the pub.
As boats have to be back in the yard, bags packed and vacated by 10.00am, an early start is required, but it is only about a thirty to forty minute trip back to Stalham, so just time for a quick bacon butty en-route before check out commences and you begin the long journey home.
Hope you enjoy this itinerary and your holiday aboard ship on the Norfolk Broads.
Click on the live links here for Bus and Train times between Wroxham and Norwich