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Herbert Woods - arrival query


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Just joined up here yesterday, got a warm welcome, so now asking some questions!

Coming down to the Broads in late September - first visit for 22 years - so might have a few queries to update my knowledge. My "The Broads Book" 1982 edition may be a little out of date on details!!

In reading up on the area, getting myself up to date, it is sad to see reports of various pubs I remember have now closed down. Rising Sun at Coltishall? Lion at West Somerton? Is Sutton Staithe still serving Adnams from a jug? But of course this is happening everywhere, at an alarming rate. At least the rivers & broads will still be in the same places - & I think the water will be in better condition now than it was back in 70s & 80s in many places.

First question - we are due to pick up the boat (Sparkling Light from Woods) at 4pm on a Friday but are anxious to get under the bridge asap (late September) & I did pick a week with - hopefully - favourable tide situation in the afternoon, but it will be going dark early by then. Anyone got any recent experience of whether Woods will be amenable to our turning up early afternoon so we can be up to Horsey or West Somerton before the light starts to fade. Will probably be at Potter by 2pm anyway, but prefer to get going than hang around. I did note this on our booking form but other people's actual experience is often more useful than a direct approach.

If you don't ask you don't get!

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Its not the pick up time thats of issue but whether you will get under the bridge!!!!

And that you will not be able to judge that until the day before by talking to the Bridge Pilots!!! Seriously.

I would plan an alternative simply because it is never guaranteed - it depends entirely on the weather.

With Sparkling Light you stand a better chance than most,but you cannot guarantee anything with the tides.That time of year you often get bigger tides and that may help - or it may not!!!

Helpful? :wave

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Helpful? Appreciated for sure!

Perfectly valid points & I do have a couple of alternative plans, but as my partner has never been on the Broads before I hope to show him a bit of what I know he will most appreciate on his first day if at all possible! By asap I meant the hour of the day, not necessarily the timepoint in the week. I have chosen the boat & the dates to give what should be the best chance of achieving this, but perfectly understand that tide/wind/rain conditions on the day will prevail & the word of the Pilot is law! Chances are if we cannot get under the bridge at the start of the trip we will not make it at the end either. And of course we have to be able to come back! If we cannot get up the Thurne beyond Potter we can always stay an extra day & take out a dayboat.

Even the alternative plans would work better if we can get an early start in consideration of sunset time. Long time since I handled a boat & first time for my partner so we want to be able to take it easy at first, but don't want to spend our first night moored at Potter!

I have considered all the criteria (over which I know I have no control) so was just asking if anyone had any experience of the chance of an early getaway. Last time I did this was 1990 but it was April, the waterways were still quiet & the boat was ready well ahead of 4pm. Just wondering what was the likelihoodof same scenario if anyone had experience of this later in the season. After a 22 year gap I have no idea how busy things are, how flexible yards are etc etc. For sure they cannot send out a whole yard full on the dot of 4pm! Getting some away early must help to spread the load.


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Hi LadyL and welcome to the forum cheers

To add to the equasion is the fact that your boat maybe ready earlier if its not just come back in from the previous weeks hire, and although the valeting team work very hard, sometimes boats can be delayed by needing repairs doing, or parts ordering for a replacement that can take a few hours to arrive from the wholesaler or chandlers. IMHO better to wait a while, and have everything five star, than to hurry out and break down a couple of hours later, or grumble and feel annoyed about the stain on the seating where someone spilt red wine the night before, and the team did not have enough time to shampoo and dry it :naughty:

The best plan would be to ring the boatyard a few days before, and ask them if an early pick up would be possible, and maybe they would also give you some indication of bridge height clearances at the same time. What ever time they allow you to board the boat, you can add on about another hour or so for the tuition and trial run before your free to set off on your own.

If you are really keen to have a day upstream of the bridge, and can make an early start to Norfolk arriving at around 9am, then why not hire a day boat and explore the area whilst waiting for your pick up time to arrive? that way you would also gain confidence in boat handing a smaller craft, and you will be less nervous later of the larger boat :)

We will be around for the first few days of September, so we will look out for you, hope the weather is kind, and you have a lovely holiday :dance

Julz :wave

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Hi Lady C

Afraid Marshman is quire right, getting under the bridge is very much in the lap of the gods, very dependant on wind and tide and you literally cannot predict until the day whether you will get under. Plan B sounds a good idea although you have picked a good boat to give you the best chance. This is a good site for checking tides and lots of other info


As regards picking up the boat, you could try turning up at lunchtime and ask when the boat will be ready. You might be lucky if the boat has had a quick turnaround or not been out the previous week. If not you can kill time in Potter for an hour or two. You’ve nothing to lose.

As regards pubs – the Rising Sun has been closed but I understand it is due to open shortly. The Lion at west Somerton is closed sadly (shame, great pub) but the Nelson Head and Pleasure Boat are both open and highly recommended. Sutton Staithe is still serving Adnams but on handpump now, the jug has gone! Another good pub.


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Hi Julz!

(Don't look too hard for us - we are not there until end of month!)

Oh dear! Beginning to wish I had not asked this! LOL!! :lol: I KNOW there are so many factors which can affect this, just asking if anyone had any personal experience of the boatyard attitude on early arrivals. The yard will only tell me that handover time is 4pm. IF the boat is ready, willing & able will they make us sit there until 4pm or will they be happy to get us off their hands? I know the trial run/handover will take time & that is my "concern" as we will be there end of September & light will be fading fast! IF (BIG IF) we can get aboard & get the handover done BY 4pm AND the bridge conditions are right we are in with a chance. IF they make you wait until 4pm then we are not. Just asking.

The dayboat option on arrival day is not an option - driving down from Cheshire & lunching with old friends who live locally which is why we will be around Potter maybe by 2pm. But as already said - it could be an option at end of week as we return boat on Friday & might stay over with friends until Saturday.

Looks like best plan is to ring the boatyard at lunchtime! Don't want to turn up early & be pushy as do not want them rushing the turnround/maintenance checks.

At least this has got some conversation going & might even be useful to complete novices who do not even know about such issues & assume they can go where they like when they like!! The best policy in life is to be an optimist & hope that Plan A will work!! But I always have a Plan B and a Plan C in reserve!

Thanks NorfolkNog - good to hear Sutton Staithe still has the Adnams! Nelson Head looks good, & I see Cross Keys at Dilham is still there! Cannot be all bad!


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Hi Lady C, i think the dayboat option is best, as you may be able to book one throgh Herbert Woods, and get a substantial discount, possibly even requesting it be free, because you`ve already paid them enough to hire their cruiser. I know years ago, one of the Wroxham fleets let customers who hired their cruisers have a dayboat free to go to Coltishall, so it`s worth asking the same of Herbert Woods. If you don`t ask, you won`t get, as somebody pointed out. Whatever happens, i hope you have a great holiday, and will start coming more regularly.

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will they make us sit there until 4pm or will they be happy to get us off their hands

YES...If the boat is ready they will gladly let you go.....

Just imagine that if they kept every one waiting til 4pm....what a sight that would be. about 50- 100 boats on handover day all leaving at the same time.....

I have hired from Herberts and left well before 4pm.

I am now a Ricos hirer (until next year) and have left their yard at 12 before, as the boat was ready.

4pm is just to cover the yards back, in case something does go adrift (pun intended).

As you have said you are campers/caravaners (i am a camper) but as you will know, even camp sites give a set up time of 2 - 4 pm, but you can always get your tent up early.

Enjoy it ...and welcome back to the BROADS


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Good suggestion Daytona! I can also hint that we will be using them again for boat hire - which we will if my current OH likes it! Previous OH who I brought along in 1990 did not enjoy his first (& only) trip!! Have hired several times from Woods in dim distant past. Always happy!

cheers donnygeoff - aha! an optimistic/glass half full soul like myself! I shall remain optimistic, turn up early in Norfolk (unless there is a hold-up on the way, which of course is another uncertainty as I was once in a car crash on that route!), phone the yard over our lunch & keep fingers, toes, eyes & legs crossed for favourable tides/winds/rain & willing Pilot!! I have been under Potter Bridge is some biggish boats, but they were always chosen for the best chance of shooting the arch so have tried to shorten the odds as much as possible!


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