The Broads are a manmade national park in Norfolk, comprising 125 miles of waterways set in beautiful countryside, punctuated by towns and villages full of character. Here there’s plenty of opportunity to make your holiday experience rich and varied one, in the unique setting of the Norfolk Broads.

Norfolk is an ideal part of the world for self-catering holiday cottage accommodation.

The Broads by Canoe

Canoeing along the Broads means you combine being on the water with getting close the environment and its wildlife. There are plenty of canoe hire centres to choose from and there is a Boards Canoe Network which ensures quality and safety standards.

Because of the layout of the Broads, using a canoe gets you into parts that you would otherwise miss.

You can choose from a variety of canoe trails, including:

  • Wayford Bridge and Sutton Staithe;
  • Salhouse Broad;
  • Norwich to Rockland;
  • Rockland to Loddon; and
  • Bungay to Geldeston Lock.

There are plenty more canoe trails to explore, and, if you want, you can choose to have a guided canoe tour, which can be handy if you’re a canoeing novice.

The local canoe hire centres will be able to advise you on routes according to your ability and how adventurous you want to be.

Wildlife on the Broads

The Norfolk Broads is the UK’s largest wetland area, attracting a large variety of bird species and other wildlife.

Many of these are rare, such as the swallowtail butterfly, which is unique to the area. You might also expect to see otters, grey seals and water deer.

The Broads are dotted with nature reserves, which are the perfect starting point for observing wildlife while enjoying your natural surroundings. The Bure Marshes Nature Reserve lies at the heart of the Broads. Here you’ll find a wide range of habitats, from woodland to open water.

Bird species include the bittern and marsh harrier, while the waterways and fens are home to insect species such as Norfolk hawker dragonflies.

Strumpshaw Fen is a family-friendly conservation area run by RSPB, and a haven for birds and, if you’re lucky, you might spot an otter or two.

The naturalist Ted Ellis created Wheatfern Nature Reserve before his death in 1986. It’s a lovely quiet and contemplative place. You can see marsh harriers and Chinese water deer and walk along the river and over wild fenland.

Ants Broads and Marshes is officially a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSI), incorporating the Medieval peat digging of Barton Broad and its rich peatland habitat is home to various species of wildfowl and rare insect life.

There are many more nature reserves of varying sizes on the Broads; enough to keep you occupied, engaged and relaxed during your holiday cottage break.

Boat Trips on the Broads

If you’re less inclined to take the activity route of a canoeing or walking holiday, you can still appreciate the beauty of the broads from the comfort of a larger vessel on an organised or self-hire boat trip

Norfolk Broad cruisers are ideal for this. These small electric boats are available for hire from a whole range of boatyards and small towns, such as Horning, Wroxham, Beccles and Stalham.

You’ve got the added benefit of plenty of charming riverside pubs where you can break your trip for refreshments and meals.

We’ve only touched on the attractions of the Norfolk Broads, but with a great choice of self-catering accommodation, there’s plenty of opportunity to explore this uniquely charming area of the English countryside.