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We recently got bitten by the cruising bug after a wonderful cruise on the Caledonian Canal courtesy of Caley cruisers. We enjoyed ourselves so much, that we have booked a 2nd cruising trip to Scotland in early October.

Thinking of a change for next year, I have been considering a trip to the Norfolk Broads before going further afield to France possibly the year after. I found your excellent forum & must admit that I nearly got put off visiting England from the post about yobs hiring boats on the broads & causing problems. Reading between the lines in some other posts, it seems that this is not uncommon on the broads?

Spending some time looking at the boat hire companies, I think that I may have a preference for Horning Ferry Marina as their boats appear to be in good condition. Can anyone comment about this please?

Our aim is relaxation & quiet, taking in wildlife & pleasant walks. We don't mind & in fact prefer to go a little out of season, say April or October. Is it possible around that time of the year to have a quiet holiday with easy moorings?

The Horning website suggests some trips for people new to the Broads. The Route 1, Wildlife & Relaxation looks interesting. May I ask for advice or recommendations from other forum members about the suggested route? Rather than paste the information, which I think may have copyright issues, I'll just paste the link: http://www.ferry-marina.co.uk/Sample-routes . We'd prefer to moor for the night in quiet locations away from pubs etc. I'd appreciate any advice.



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My own thoughts are that yobs are few and far between and even fewer and farer between in April and October.

If quietness is your thing then I would suggest that the South Broads will be quieter than the North, but given the times you are thinking of going the North will hardly be busy.

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Hello Biscuit,

Welcome to the forum.

If you have been on the Caledonian Canal you may have seen the Le Boat boats on the canal. Silverline is a good company to hire from and is based on the Southern Broads at Brundall, Herbert Woods of Pottet Heigham and Barns Brinkcraft at Wroxham offer good service and have a wide range of craft.

Have a good look around before you make up your mind on the type of boat and the height of the boat so you can plan your route.



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Thank you Matt & Alan

Alan, I have seen Le Boats on the Caledonian Canal, but was disappointed when visiting their website to see a "cleaning charge". Although we are clean & tidy ourselves & leave the boat as clean & tidy as possible (we even wear house-slippers in the cabin & saloon), Le Boat's cleaning charge smacks of sharp practice to me. I would expect any boat I hire to be professionally cleaned before I went on board.

I will look at the South broads & also consider the height of the boat, thank you.

Edit: I would just like to mention that Barns Brinkcraft appear to have some very poor reviews around the Internet.

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If you like the look of the more modern higher spec or bling boats as some people call them. Then you should deffinately check out Herbert Woods Elite class. They tend to be a more reasonable price when compared to some of the other yards. Look at royal light their newest cruiser, very nice.

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As a general observation, April can be quite a busy time. Strangely it gets a bit quieter in May. We go every year in December and literally have the rivers to ourselves but that may not be to everyone’s taste! As has been mentioned the Sothern rivers are generally quieter. Also many people (like me) try to moor within reach of a pub. So if you are not worried about this there are lots of moorings which have no pub access and as a result are usually much quieter. You can also mudweight on many of the broads away from the main river channels which again is quieter.

Planning a route depends on where you are picking the boat up from, the tides and if you intend to go through Great Yarmouth.

Good luck!

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Hello Buscuit,

So you are going back to Scotland later on this year, are you back to the Caladonian Canal or our you going to try the canal up there and go on the Falkirk Wheel

We wanted to go this year and aranged to have our usual October week we have on the canals earlier in the year but we could not get a boat with the suitable berths for us , our group consists of three couples and we need fixed berths these days. It was a pity but we tacked the Cheshire Ring in a week starting from the Langollen Canal. Hard work and wet but that how it has been for most people this year. The worse part of this canal was through the centre of Manchester, Birmingham has pulled out all the stops with the area around the Gas Street Basin, safe, good food & drinks very relaxed the opposite can be said for Manchester.

Getting back to the Broads how many do you think will be in your party? My usual rule for hiring is to get a boat with two more berths than is required; it usually is about right with the space required on a narrow boat or a cruiser.

The boat style is down to how many bridges you want to get through such as Wroxham & Potter Heigam, Ludam bridge is 8 ft 3 inch or 8 ft 6 inch (it says this on one side of the bridge & the the other height at the other side of the bridge) Yarmouth is a problem for everyone and you need ideally to pass through Yarmouth at slack water (this is 1 hour after low tide) You may have see that Braydon Water has been quite rough these last few weeks.

You need to do your homework before you book and check out all recommendations.



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Thanks Alan & Howard

The party is just myself & wifey. Hence an 8 berth being a little large for us, we found a 4+2 to be very comfortable for us in Scotland.

We are going back to the Caledonian Canal again. We got 50% off for a 2nd visit in the same season & we really enjoyed ourselves last time. The lock keepers were all so friendly & helpful as were the other people on the canal.

I will look at the bridge heights & work this in with the boat choice. I did want some advice from this forum for which area of the broads to visit & I think it looks as though we should aim for the Southern area.

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Hi Biscuit

You can often book a two berth now that is the same size as some 4/6 berths - like Fair Prince or Fair Jubilee from Faircraft Loynes to quote one example that jumps to mind.

Horning Ferry Marina are OK - I hired from them once and the boat was spotless and the staff friendly. I find their standard range of craft a bit expensive compared to some of the same boat designs from other places though, but I have noticed they then often have discounts showing on Hoseasons if not booked. Not my personal favourite business practice/model but could still mean you get good value from them in the end. We hired a Silver Emblem which was new at the time and in fairness it was a very pleasant boat to handle and holiday on, if a little unusual in appearance.

Each fleet offers something slightly different so it can be a case of weighing up your own preferences and who seems to tick those boxes, sometimes it's hard to find this out until you've tried them or a few other operators. If you can look aboard your next potential hire whilst you're there or before booking even this really is a great way of seeing the different options & standards and which ones suit you best.

Have a great holiday


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Hi again

As Dan points out, boat sizes can vary considerably. You can get a 25 foot boat designed for 2 or a 45 foot one! Depends on the level of luxury you want and what you are prepared to pay!

You mention bridges – the low bridges are at Potter Heigham, Wroxham, Beccles and Wayford Bridge. Potter Heigham is the most difficult to get under and not many boats have made it this year due to the high water levels. It’s a shame because as others have said it is very peaceful. The brochures and web sites don’t give boat air drafts specifically but you can get a rough idea by looking at the boat style. However the boat descriptions will say if the boat definitely will not pass certain bridges. All the above (apart from Beccles bridge) are on the Northern rivers.

The Northern Broads (ie North of Great Yarmouth) are the busiest and places like Horning and Ranworth are very popular and hence get very busy. Moorings are also very limited. I suspect that you would prefer something a little quieter and the Southern rivers certainly have more open spaces and generally less traffic. There are however fewer Broads down south although the rivers are generally wider.

If you do stick to the Southern rivers you should be able to cover most of the area in a week so you wouldn’t necessarily need to plan individual places to visit.

The places to go depend very much on your personal preferences, I don’t think it’s critical that you visit particular places or indeed miss any. People often say the best way to enjoy the Broads is to just set off and go with the flow and I can see what they mean. By all means have a rough plan but be prepared for Plan B or even Plan C!

The tides tend to be stronger on the Southern rivers and you can save a lot of time and fuel going with the tide where possible. This site is very good as you can create your own personal tide table for the dates when you are away. It also gives you tide information at various points on the Broads which is useful.


Please do come back to us if we can add anything else.

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Hi again.

Don't worry too much about the height of the boat, if your boat won't go through potter or Wroxham bridge you could always hire a day boat from the nearby boat yards to explore those sections of river.

When looking at potter as has been pointed out, at times no boats are able to pass (except day boats).

Remember as well that you will need a bridge pilot to take you through.

It's worth checking with the boat yard before you book if they include the pilot fee otherwise it will cost you extra.

I know Herbert Woods include the pilot fee for both Potter & Wroxham Also fair raft loynes include the fee for Wroxham (as they provide the bridge pilots). Richardsons will charge you for the pilots fees when you return your boat.

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Please could you tell me how the pilot thing works? Is there a hut by the bridges & you moor-up & visit the hut? Also refilling the boat with water. Are there stations at the moorings or do you have to visit boatyards? Is there a charge? I also read mention of mud anchors. Are these reliable enough, to anchor for the night?

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Please could you tell me how the pilot thing works? Is there a hut by the bridges & you moor-up & visit the hut? Also refilling the boat with water. Are there stations at the moorings or do you have to visit boatyards? Is there a charge? I also read mention of mud anchors. Are these reliable enough, to anchor for the night?

Ok lets take things in order:

a) Pilots

Pilots are available at Wroxham and Potter Heigham bridges, hire-boats HAVE to use the Pottter pilot, and some yards insist on them using the Wroxham one.

With both of them you can call ahead on the phone to check if they think that your boat can get through,

or to find out when they think the water level might be OK,

and to tell them when you expect to arrive at the bridge when you get closer.

(there isn't that much tidal movement at the bridges but in some cases every little helps!)

Pottter has a little hut just below the bridge on the starboard side as you approach upstream but as I have only managed to get through it on one trip many years ago I can't remember where you moor up to pick up the pilot when coming south.

Wroxham has a pontoon just below the bridge on the starboard side and you moor there and wait for the pilot.

Coming downstream moor up just above the bridge and ring the pilot telling him which set of moorings you are on.

B) Water

You can get water from most boat yards and from several other mooring areas.

There are posts on here that give all the details of moorings with water available.

c) Mud-weights

Mud-weights are used instead of anchors on the Broads because there are all sorts of snags on the bottom that would foul an anchor. Swinging on a mud-eight is normally OK but I wouldn't do it in high-winds, (I watched two boats dragging their mud-weights across Malthouse Broad (Ranworth) back in April) but there was a force 7 blowing at the time. Personally I use my hand-held GPS and set the "anchor drag alarm" when I drop the weight, but then I am basically a sea-going yachtie and have such tools available, so I treat mud-weighting in the same way as I would anchoring.

d) One thing that you didn't mention was "Pump-outs"

Broads cruisers have "holding tanks" for toilet waste, and every few days you will need to go into a boat-yard and get it sucked out. How often you need to do it will depend on the number of people on board and how often you don't "use shore facilities".

Most yards will do a pump-out but you do have to pay for them.

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