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Norfolk Short Break


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We had couple of days away this week to celebrate my birthday.  It was really hot again, and we had beautiful sunshine both days. 

Thursday 2nd August

Set off for Norfolk, stopping off at Caxton Gibbet Costa’s for a toastie, as we usually do on our way to the Broads.  We thought we’d take a slight detour to Grimes Graves on the way, but it was further off our route than we anticipated and when we got there we decided not to go in as the admission fee of over £5 each seemed a bit steep. 

Carried on our way and stopped off at Wroxham for a quick visit to Roy’s.  Wroxham was heaving, but we struck lucky and got a shady space in the car park near the St John’s moorings just as someone else was leaving.  We then went to have a look at Wroxham Barns, but didn’t stay long.  After that we made our way through Stalham and Sea Palling to Horsey, stopping off for a late lunch at Poppylands Tea Rooms.  They have a WW2 theme going on and we both had ‘Aircraftsman’s Tea’, which was basically an afternoon tea with choice of sandwich (options included Spam and corned beef) and a cream scone.  Very nice too, except that the scone was a bit too sweet for my taste – I think they may have sweetened the cream.  Very friendly service.  Seren was made a fuss-of and offered a couple of dog biscuits. 

After lunch we went to park by Horsey Staithe and went for a walk toward Waxham New Cut and back. 


By the time we’d done that it was mid-afternoon and we decided to have a glimpse at Great Yarmouth (as we’ve never yet stopped at the Yacht Station there).  As we were passing through Winterton-on-Sea I thought the church looked very impressive, so we stopped there briefly so I could have a look inside. 


It had been restored in Victorian times, so most of the furnishings in the church date back to then, including the rood screen.  What I found interesting were four wooden plaques giving details of the rescues carried out by the Winterton Life Boat in the 1800s/early 1900s and the memorial plaques to local men lost at sea.



There was an especially lovely memorial to a former rector of the parish who had drowned whilst rescuing a boy.


We regretted having a glimpse of Great Yarmouth’s sea front as getting out of the town was a nightmare – not only did we hit the rush hour, but the traffic along the Yarmouth to Acle road was at a crawl until well past Stracey Arms. 

We had booked at room for the night at a Holiday Inn just off the Norwich by-pass.  The bed was very comfortable room and we were offered a good breakfast, though neither of us eats a lot breakfast time, so next time I think I would book room only.  We had chosen that hotel as they allow dogs in some rooms.  I think we would have been better to have booked just a room or B&B via Airbnb though, as we found the slamming of doors and sound of people talking in the corridor a bit of a nuisance (they had the type of hotel door that is impossible to close quietly).  We haven’t stayed in a hotel for about four years, having been taking self-catering cottage or Centre Parc holidays.  There was a Tesco’s nearby, so rather than going out to eat again we just picked up a salad and sushi and some wine for the evening, which we ate in our room. 

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Friday 3rd August

We had booked an electric day boat from Whispering Reeds Boat Yard for a full-day today, which we picked up shortly after 9am.  We had considered hiring Brown Bess from Hunter’s Yard but the weather forecast was for very light winds, so we decided not to risk it.  Actually, there was a moderate wind around Hickling and Horsey, so we would have been okay to sail.  Never mind, we enjoyed the day.  I chose Whispering Reeds Boat Yard as I wanted to avoid the busier sections of the river and though it would be good to patronise a smaller business.  The smaller yards seem to charge about £20 less per day than Herbert Woods do for a similar boat. 

It was lovely being back on the Broads.  Seren whined a bit to start with, but she soon settled down and she didn’t bark at canoes this time, nor the swans that passed us, even when they hissed at her.  The plan was to visit both West Somerton and Horsey Mere and to have lunch at the Nelson Head. 

It was very quiet crossing Hickling Broad.


We only passed a couple of boats, and there weren’t many boats moored up at Deep Dyke nor Deep Go Dyke and none at White Slee (that’s a mooring I fancy staying at as there’s barely room for two boats on it).  Hickling Sound and Candle Dyke were a bit busier (not a lot!), but between Candle Dyke and West Somerton we only passed one sail boat.  Once we had passed Martham Swing Bridge we found there was a lot of weed floating on the surface of the Thurne, which we tried our best to avoid, and my suspicions were confirmed once we got to Martham Broad; there was a weed-cutting machine in operation.  Why is it that each time we get as far as the upper Thurne there always seems to be weed cutting going on?  Not that we’ve been there that often.  The reason I wanted to go that way is because I’ve never got as far as Martham Broad before (see my holiday tale https://forum.norfolkbroadsnetwork.com/forum/19-holiday-tales-blogs/?page=3 ).

We didn’t moor at West Somerton, just turned around that the far end of the Staithe and made our way back, admiring the crystal-clear water, the water-lilies and dragonflies.



As we were approaching Martham Broad again, the weed-cutter stopped cutting and went around the bend of the river before us.


By the time we caught up he was disgorging the weed he had cut onto the bank.  So that’s what they do with it!


We were getting a bit worried as the battery indicator was down to half-capacity, and we still wanted to get to Horsey.  The chap in the Yard had reassured us that we would have plenty of charge for the day though, and thankfully the indicator stayed in the same place for the rest of the day. 

Meadow Dyke was pretty quiet; we only passed three boats and there was plenty of room to moor at Horsey Staithe.


We paid £2 for two hours mooring at the NT kiosk and walked to the Nelson Head via the permissive footpath that runs through the field opposite the end of the Staithe.  The first couple of time we visited Horsey we walked from the Staithe to the pub along the road, as it isn’t clear where the footpath leads to.  On our second visit to Horsey we had walked to Horsey Gap after pub lunch and discovered the footpath back to the Staithe on our way back. 

We enjoyed our lunch very much.  Graham had fish and chips with mushy peas and home-made tartar sauce whilst I had a warm steak salad with some crumbled stilton scattered over it.  I tried a half of Weston’s Perry and then asked what they would recommend in the way of a dry cider that wasn’t too strong.  I can’t remember what it was, but it was very good and I was peeved not to be able to finish it before a wasp decided to drown itself in it. 



The Nelson Head has bags of character, a really good selection of ales and ciders, good food and friendly service.  I like the way it’s decorated with odds and ends, but wish they could spruce it up a bit with a lick of paint and new flooring.  It’s looking more than a bit tatty in the bar area.  Please no major makeover though!  I’m sure it could be tidied up a bit without losing its unique character. 


Seren had a long drink too as there were a couple of large bowls of water outside with this sign...


After lunch we went back to the boat and made our way slowly back to Hickling.  We had the boat until 5pm, and it was only about 2 when we left Horsey.  I had thought to check out Waxham New Cut, but the guy in the Yard had recommended we avoid it due to low water levels and weed.  We dawdled our way back through Meadow Dyke and Deep Go Dyke and made our way to the marked channel that leads to Catfield Dyke.  I thought it would be much easier to check out Catfield Dyke with a day boat than a cruiser, and it certainly turned out pretty narrow.  There was a BA Free Mooring sign at Catfield Dyke.  As far as we could tell (since all the moorings were taken) there’s only room for one boat. 


It’s a long dyke to have to travel along to chance nabbing a mooring there!


By the time we got back onto the Broad it was well past 4pm, so we decided to hand back the boat slightly early.  As we were nearing the far end of the Broad we saw a smart-looking woody reversing confidently out of the Pleasure Boat Inn moorings.  I commented to Graham ‘I bet that’s Broad Ambition’ and I was right!  We held back whilst Griff turned and gave them a wave as they passed before making our way to the Yard to handover.  Shame I didn't get a photo of BA.

Had a good journey without any delays back to MK.  What a great time we had!  I’m glad we hired an electric boat instead of diesel as it was lovely to travel along without engine noise and to be able to hear the birds and the wind in the trees. 

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Sounds like a wonderful break, thanks for your account, it was as relaxing as being there (almost)

As an aside the Winterton Lifeboat on the plaque is being restored by a local group. The hull had ended up as a squat somewhere and the Harbour Master researched the name and offered her to village, otherwise she would have been scrapped. Maybe a future visit will coincide with one of their open days. The Edward Birkbeck lives on!

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Thanks for the info about the lifeboat Ray.

Cal and JennyMorgan, the engine had a fairly quiet high pitched whine and the most we could get out of it was 4mph, but that suited us.  Maybe an electric boat that went faster would be more noisy, as it was our pace was very relaxing, which was just what we wanted!

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Very interesting to read your write-up Helen. Did you find it strange driving so quickly from one place to another on the first day, when you know how long it would take by boat?

We went to Woodbastwick recently while at the caravan, then through Wroxham and onto Horning. To return to Lowestoft we went over Ludham Bridge, through Ludham, almost down to Womack Water, up through Potter Heigham and back down to Acle. So strange to see so many places in one trip that would take hours to get to on a boat.

I like Great Yarmouth, very fond memories of holidays there and at Caister when the children were small. But it can take some getting around on a busy day.

You mentioned the Acle straight ... when we last came down there we could see that Breydon Bridge had been lifted so that caused a bit of a queue!!

Haven't been above the old bridge at Potter Heigham on a boat yet but we are considering another day boat trip later in the year and haven't decided where yet so it was interesting to hear how you got on.

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Funny how a short break write up, even a trip by car, can be as good as a tale from a week’s boating holiday! Winterton Church sounds very interesting and well worth a visit. We’ve been past many times in the car when taking the dogs to Winterton beach but never stopped. Lovely photos too. 

What is Wroxham Barns like these days? Worth a visit or not?

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I’m not sure what to say about Wroxham Barns. It looked a lovely place to visit if you like browsing around arts and crafts shops, and a great place to visit with small children, as they had a mini rollercoaster and other rides. They had a really well stocked needlework shop for those into patchwork/embroidery. 

Browsing shops isn’t up there with my favourite things to do though, so I don’t think my opinion on Wroxham Barns should count!

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I live round the corner from Winterton Church, I've never been either lol

If visiting during the summer months you can ascend to the top of the tower beteen 2pm and 4pm on Saturdays. I'm told the view is stunning!

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