Jump to content
  • Announcements

    Welcome! New around here? Take a look at the New Members' Guide for some pointers.

    Not a member yet? Sign up here and you can soon be chatting away with friends old and new..

    Check out our Handy Information section if you're after something quickly!

Above Wayford Bridge.


Recommended Posts

I swear I heard the jangling tones of duelling banjos, and is that an alligator in the water ahead?  Phew, no, only a floating log, but I really did see a snake ... a grass snake I think, about 2 feet long, diamond shaped head held above the water as it wriggled across the canal.  

 

A first for me - I've explored most of the northern waters over the years but never been above Wayford Bridge before.  That's mainly because most of my boating is 'rag and stick', and even above Barton Broad it's hardly worth the effort with all the trees; so little point in going through the hassle of mast lowering just to get under that bridge.  But yesterday afternoon we put the kayaks in at Smallburgh Staithe (there's a Parish Council sign asking for a couple of quid donation towards the upkeep of the staithe which we happily paid).  Easy place to launch, nice gentle slope on the slipway.  Very little turning space, certainly wouldn't want to put anything bigger than a kayak in here (and the sign also says no launching of anything over 12 foot).

 

Out of the dyke, turned left and quickly under the bridge and past the houseboats by the Wayford Bridge Hotel ... soon left the noise of the A149 behind.  Very quickly faced with a choice, left fork, the River Ant, towards Dilham, or right, the Dilham and North Walsham canal.  We opted for the Ant.  Lovely clear waters here, we could see down a good 3 or 4 foot to the river bed.  Amazing numbers of fish, huge shoals of tiddlers, inch long critters in their hundreds if not thousands were frequent, then groups of a dozen or so around the 4-5 inch mark, and the odd 'big feller' of about a foot.  The distaff side spotted a monster, she reckons about 2 foot long, but for me it was the 'one that got away' - apparently it dived into the weeds.  Either side of the waterway was covered in a blanket of water lilies.  As we headed upstream we passed a handful of open canoes from Bank's Boats heading back to Smallburgh, and a couple of motorised dayboats. Then a couple of big motorcruisers heading south.  Nice to see them respecting this quiet stretch of the river by keeping to the 3 mph limit, and they even slowed down from that to come gently past us in the narrow stretch.  Then ahead we saw a cruiser going our way, and realised we we catching him ... does the speed limit apply to paddlers?  Very soon arrived at Dilham Staithe ... lovely and peaceful, a couple of cruisers moored up for the night I think - fishing rods out.  There was also a beautiful old wooden motorcruiser on a private mooring, shiny mahogany planking and ooodles of glittering brass - a credit to the owner.

 

We made our way back down river.  The journey had not taken as long as we anticipated, so there was still time to explore the canal.  We turned left into the cut as we made our way downriver ... and this was quickly eerie territory.  50 yards in a sign says 'No Motorised Craft', and 50 yards beyond that a fallen, submerged, tree across most of the width served to enforce the matter.  Drawing only a couple of inches we drifted over the obstruction, but anything drawing more than a foot would be stuck.  Trees and bushes overhung the canal on both sides giving it a naturalistic feel, but the fact the waterway was dead straight gave away the man made origins.  Strange to think that this was once an important commercial waterway serving the bustlingpost-14321-0-23959500-1375603081_thumb.jpost-14321-0-78884500-1375603250_thumb.j market town of North Walsham.  We passed a derelict boathouse, roof tumbling in, door open, and wondered who had owned it, and how they got to it.  It was along this stretch we saw the snake ... and we saw no other people, on or off the water, complete peace and solitude.  We paddled up for about a mile before the boss decided she was ready to head home for food.  Next time we'll head up here without the Dilham excursion and see how far we can get ... even in a kayak it might be a challenge, the canal is made very narrow by the vegetation in places.  

 

I do hope the efforts that I know are going on to reopen this stretch to navigation strike the right balance between clearance and preservation of the unique nature of what this place has become.  I don't want to see more decay so that this becomes inaccessible to anybody, and I'd like to see more people being able to enjoy this place in small boats, or by walking/cycling the old towpath (which is pretty inaccessible at present) ... but the joy of the peace and quiet needs preserving too.

 

  • Like 3
Link to post
Share on other sites

Lovely tale and your making me jealous!

I think the wooden boat must be Vegabond. We met them a couple of weeks ago when they were down south for the Brooms paegent. She is the last survivor in her class.

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm desperately trying to remember the name of the boat ... my memory for names is dreadful ... but Vegabond doesn't seem right.  There was a number involved after the name, so XXXXXX 2, and there were a couple of small crossed flags with an 'M' on them painted on the transom.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Lovely story bob, its a few years since we took a dayboat up that stretch of river, and enjoyed its full beauty, we stayed at the Brinkcraft apartments, and got a dayboat included in the hire fee, not only was this a good deal, it enabled us to cruise from dawn until dusk, as we just simply moored and secured it up for the night outside our apartment.

We were not lucky enough to see any snakes, but we did spot a Bittern along the bankside, and as you say, the waters were crystal clear and teaming with fish, although my quest to spot a pike or any large fish remained unsolved.

Julz

Link to post
Share on other sites

Yes, we chatted briefly to a woman who had just moored on the bank on the left side of the Ant, going upstream, shortly after the canal branches right.  There's an old windpump base, and a building at the foot of it, now converted into two holiday cottages which she told us are let out through Hoseasons.  There are a couple of sets of garden tables and chairs (one for each cottage) overlooking the river, BBQ kit, and a rowing boat for each cottage (one enhanced by the addition of a little Minn Kota electric outboard).  If I didn't already have the privilege of living in Norfolk I'd think it a great place for a holiday.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Ah, no, but yes, but ...  :grin: .  We saw that one as well, she was indeed moored up there, and very elegant she was too ... but if you can believe it the other boat we saw was even more lovely.  Rather smaller, shorter in length, aft cockpit, and with a brown, mahogany (I think) hull.

Link to post
Share on other sites

You provoked my curiosity, and I've been ploughing through that database looking for her, and I think this is the boat ... Moorhen 1  (and the fact she was built by Moore's would account for the letter 'M' on the painted flags that I mentioned).

 

http://www.broads.org.uk/wiki/index.php5?title=Boat_Details&BoatHistory=2733&BoatId=2102

 

If this isn't her, she's very similar, and has a sun canopy just like that in the picture.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I might be wrong, and often am, but the name Bosun comes to mind for that class Matt?. I`m sure Dan will have some more info?.

Good spot-Broom Bosun. They were kind enough to let me have a nose around her at the Brooms Peagent. Lovely little boat.

The Moorhen looks lovely as well.

Link to post
Share on other sites

It is a lovely part of the Broads. I used to take my first boat up to Dilham quite a lot as it was one of my favourite places. Peaceful and secluded, where you were almost guaranteed to see Kingfishers and catch a couple of fish. I've also kayaked up the NW&D canal as far as the bridge, which was like exploring unknown territory. There was some talk awhile ago about refurbishing the lock, but I don't know if that ever went ahead?

Link to post
Share on other sites

We didn't get as far as the tonnage bridge (though we've walked around that way with the dog in years gone by).  The lock, I am told, remains dilapidated.  There has been talk locally that the Canals and Waterways Trust want to raise funds to reopen the navigation all the way to Ebridge, but they're facing opposition from some environmental groups.  Now I think of myself as quite a keen environmentalist, but I think a sympathetic clearance of fallen trees and a bit of bank tidying, and the reinstatement of the locks should not be inconsistent with maintaining wildlife habitats.  I guess the arguments will drag on for a few years and we'll have to wait and see..

Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi Jonno. Watching during lunch break, now I just want to curl up and go asleep! Lovely video and a music track to match. Have made Tonnage Bridge four times in hire craft all under 30' and once to East Ruston Junction. Last time would be in the late 80s and even then if I remember, besides the end of navigation sign at the junction of the Ant you had to get past a sunken houseboat. Often wonder what Jimmy Pearson would have said had we broken down up there?

 

Fred

Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Restore formatting

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • NBN Mobile App

×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

For details of our Guidelines, please take a look at the Terms of Use here.