Norfolk Broads, Stalham to Heigham Bridge

This is a nice paddle of about 20 kilometers. the wind can be strong at certain times and some of the Broads and rivers are quite open. We paddled this in October and had brilliant weather which made it all the more scenic.

Starting at Stalham, you may have to pay to park your car, paddle down the river until you reach a signpost for Barton and Dilham. This is quite a wide bit of river and at 10 a.m. we saw very little river traffic. Turning left, you are now on the river Ant and the river gets wider until you reach the openess of Barton Broad. Heading south, looking out for various sail boats and cruisers, until you reach the exit. You may see Marsh Harriers if you are lucky.

The river gets quite narrow in one or two parts now and we followed a line of cruisers down past Irstead until we reached the museum at How Hall. Here there are quite few windmills used for pumping water out of the surrounding land during the great drainage of the Fens.

Ludham Bridge is soon reached and there is a small shop and an excellent cafe/restaurant for a break. After the bridge, the river is in fact tidal. We thought it could not be very strong, but when we stopped to rest, it started to push us back up the river.

At the end of this stretch, you turn east onto the river Bure. This is wide enough for sailing boats and the traditional wherries under full sail can throw out disconcerting wash for the unwary. We also saw a Mississippi "steamer" with a stern paddle wheel, which in fact seemed to do nothing, just for show, on its way up river.

Sometimes it is difficult to see much from the river due to the height of the reeds, but you can see sailing boats from a long way off and you pass the ruined abbey of St. Benets. You can get out here and visit the ruin, though there is not much to see. it is a long walk from the nearest road.

You now come to the river Thurne, and you turn left and head up stream. Thurne itself is a short way off the main river, but there is a pub selling various refreshments. The river is quite broad now and a footpath, the Weavers Way, follows the right hand bank.

Near the end you come to Repps and some amazing holiday cottages, one being the remains of the old helter skelter form Gt. Yarmouth., so I am told. Finally you arrive at Heigham, with various shops, restaurants and chip shops. A good place to stop and get out. You are now on the main road back to Stalham.

Get in at Stalham
Heading down river
Useful sign
Swans looking for breakfast
Crossing Barton Broad
Wind pump near How Hill
Ludham Bridge
More traditonal craft
St Benets Abbey
"Steamer"
Another useful sign
Near Thurne village
Start of Repps
Chalets
The Helter Skelter
Heigham Bridge