Norfolk Broads Holiday 2022 (Third time lucky)

After a wait of 2 years, I finally arrived at Acle station in Norfolk (and you thought TfL rail was bad!). Having walked to the village, Val phoned and offered me a lift with her and Marian. After a short drive, we arrived at the boat-yard, booked in, found and boarded our boat, Caribbean Light. Having unpacked, a member of staff showed us where everything was, how the boat worked, and we were ready to go – almost, we’d better wait for Eileen first.

Eileen arrived, ships provisions were bought, and we cast off on our adventure, the ladies volunteering me to do the tricky job of getting the boat out of the marina. Once on the main rivers, Eileen and Val both took a turn at the helm doing a good job piloting the boat, although Val did carry out a couple of close river-bank inspections, just to keep me alert. A couple of hours later we moored at Salhouse Broad for the night, with the pub about a mile away for our evening meal (but that’s another story!).

On Sunday, we cruised up river to Wroxham and moored up, before walking to the gardens and cafe at Hoveton Hall for tea and (very yummy) cake. Suitably refreshed, Marian wanted to visit the gardens. Despite my aversion to anything flowery, not helped at all, when the ticket lady mentioned one of the features was the “spider garden” the ladies press-ganged me into visiting them, and I was surprisingly impressed. We returned to the boat and cruised to Horning for the night.

Monday, we left the moorings early-ish and had a leisurely breakfast on Ranworth Broad. We then turned up the River Ant, a much smaller river, but probably my favourite, through the low and narrow Ludham Bridge (windscreen down for the bridge!) heading to Stalham. We stopped on-route at How Hill, to see the old Marshman’s Cottage and explore the Wildlife Trail walk and the “secret garden”, before continuing to Stalham to moor up overnight.

On Tuesday we had to return to our boatyard as Val, Eileen and Marian were leaving, and a new crew were joining me for the rest of the week. I say a new crew, it was actually just Lynne, as Fozi wasn’t feeling well. So it was going to be just two of us with a seriously large (42 foot long) boat, what could possibly go wrong!. “Crew” changed and boat re-provisioned, we headed out again for Adventure Part 2, and moored up at one of the last remaining berths at Ludham for the evening.

Wednesday, we headed back to Salhouse Broad, with Lynne doing most of the driving, and doing a fine job (no river-bank inspections!). We had lunch on the Broad, before walking through the bluebell wood and village to the old thatched church, where I spotted the Phantom Norfolk Church Arsonist at work. Correction, it was a bee-keeper and we got chatting with his friend who gave us some of the honey-comb fresh from the hives. We returned to the boat before heading to Horning for the night.

Thursday morning was exciting!. An elderly couple had moored near us, but had no idea what they were doing, and despite 3 of us helping, I thought he would ram us, but he eventually got out trailing his ropes in the water! We departed, cruising to Stalham, where we had a pleasant walk along the Weavers Way and local footpaths. In the evening, two ex-members who Lynne knew and live locally, Edwina and Kenth, invited us for dinner, which was very enjoyable (thanks folks!).

Friday we departed, stopping at How Hill for a 2nd visit, but there’s always something new to see, and I was lucky enough to see 2 eels (might have been the same one twice!) having never seen one in the wild before. After a few hours, we departed, hoping to moor up at Ranworth for the night and were in luck. We visited the church, known as the Cathedral of the Broads, and Lynne climbed to the top of the Tower, whilst I waited below to ensure we didn’t get locked in the church.

Saturday morning we departed Ranworth, for our boat-yard at Potter Heigham. Despite the light drizzle (the only rain we had whilst travelling) we arrived back at the boatyard safely and enjoyed a snack at the cafe before departing back to Essex.

All in all it had been a fabulous week. The girls all did superbly, in handling the boat, mooring up and casting off, with no accidents. We saw plenty of wildlife, several kingfishers (although don’t ask Eileen, she missed them all), some ostriches (they weren’t actually on the broads), the eels, and Val saw an otter. Thank you ladies for all your work in making everything go so successfully and safely, I couldn’t have done it without your help! There’s a Captain or two amongst you!

Trev Eley, 19th May 2022