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My Holidays on Inland Waterways - Cruise XXVIII

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XXVIII

HOLIDAY LIFE ON THE NORFOLK BROADS.

I HAVE spent many varied holidays in my time, including golfing on many courses, in motor boating and boating on the River Thames, and have navigated practically every waterway south of the Humber, also in motoring many thousands of miles in England and Scotland, but the Norfolk Broads, which were hitherto only a name to me, have been entirely a novel and delightful experience.

So at last I have made my long-desired visit to these haunts, and to one who has any love of the water, and motor boating and yachting in particular, without the sea unpleasantness, one cannot find a more congenial - -shall I say - "hunting ground." When one is made aware that there are some 200 miles of good navigable waterways confined to a particular county, it is hardly credible; but so it is. These are scattered over a very wide area and are nearly all negotiable from one to the other, by broad rivers of considerable depth.

Chief of these are the Yare, Waveney, Bure, Thurne and Ant, each leading to their respective broads or meres, extending inland from Yarmouth to Lowestoft. The numerous craft on these broads are of a varied character, but the typical Norfolk wherry or residential barge-yacht, with its huge single sail and heavy mast placed right forward, is perhaps the most popular. These pleasure vessels are generally chartered by the week or month, have ample accommodation for large parties, and many there are who take advantage of this kind of holiday afloat as each season comes round.

With all the freedom of gipsy life, it makes a delightful change from the ordinary conventional manner of. spending a vacation.

These wherries, so identified with the Broads .life, are much in evidence at all points over the course. They are easily handled and sail steadily along in their own stately way with the aid of comparatively little wind, and cover many miles a day, laying up each night at a different mooring place, making it an ever-changing scene as the voyage progresses.

Besides these there are many other types of craft about, ranging from the usual yacht rig to all kinds of yachts, cruisers, sailing and rowing boats, also dinghies and fishing punts.

The motor boat especially has made great strides on the Broads, and there is no more excellent scope for the pastime, and many smart craft are to be seen on these ideal waters.

With such advantages for motor boating and sailing it becomes at once a veritable yachtsman's paradize.

To many, it may be added, fishing is a particular attraction, and anglers come in great numbers to ply their gentle art, and quite successfully, too, on these expansive broads.

The scenery around is perhaps not imposing, owing to the flat nature of the country, but it is pleasing withal, the perspective being relieved by an occasional church spire, or perhaps some little hamlet showing up in the distance. There are, too, the striking windmills dotted over the whole area of the Broads, making picturesque landmarks, alone worth seeing. These windmills were, and are, used for pumping accumulated water out of the marshy ground into the cuttings that lead into the main channels.

The old churches on the route as one travels along are well worth visiting, at least to those so interested, and these have particularly antiquated interiors, dating back to the 11th and 13th centuries. Likewise there may be seen some old abbey ruins, all bringing to one's mind the ancient days.

In navigating the Broads there are no obstacles to overcome, except the interruption of a bridge here and there, necessitating the lowering of the mast; but they are few and far between.

I have touched chiefly on the pleasure sailing on these waters, but there is large intercommunication in commercial trading, the craft utilized being of the hitherto described wherry type up to about 80 tons burden. These waterways are controlled chiefly by the Great Yarmouth Port and Haven Commissioners, who have extensive powers in carrying out their work on these "inland seas."

In addition to the "sailers" and motor boats there are a number of roomy and luxurious houseboats afloat (a few having auxiliary motive power), somewhat like those to be seen on the Thames, and which are, occupied during the season.

Bungalow life, too, is becoming more and more popular, and many are the styles of attractive little residences on the banks of the river, with their sloping lawns reaching down to the water's edge.

The Norfolk Broads are altogether unique in their way to the yachtsman and motor boatman, and singularly so, as nowhere in the British Isles can such facilities be found as there are in this quiet corner of Norfolk.

All these attractions go to add to the enhancement of the surroundings, but what is wanted most of all in making such excursions a success is the best of weather, and, given that, no more pleasurable time could be spent than in taking a holiday on the Norfolk Broads.

Pictures related to this cruise

Life on the Norfolk Broads

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Jim Shead Waterways Photographer & Writer
Text and photographs copyright of Jim Shead.
Home Introduction Waterways List Waterways Map Links Books DVD Articles Photo Gallery
Features Contact me Glossary Boats Events List History Local Waterways Help Photo List