Norfolk Broads: Hickling Broad – Norfolk Wildlife Trust Nature Reserve

Today we set out to do something new for a family day out.  Originally we were headed toward Great Yarmouth area to an amusement park called Pettitts Animal Advenuture, but as we had plans to be someplace at 5 pm, we didn’t leave enough time to make it a full day out.  So instead, we took a detour and headed towards the Norfolk Broads to have our picnic and see what we could do.  

Last August, we visited Wroxham Broad and took a large narrated boat tour down the River Bure.  So having already done that, we chose to go to a new place.  I remembered hearing about Hickling Broad, so we set off to visit that.   After driving through a very cute village, we came down a path to the very end to a Norfolk Wildlife Trust nature reserve.  

Hickling is the largest, most scenic and ecologically 
important wetland habitat. Endangered species such as the marsh harrier, bittern and swallowtail butterfly, as well as summer visitors like the spoonbill, can be found on its grassland and marshes.  We spotted several of the above and I was extra happy to get a Swallowtail butterfly photo!






Going inside a bird hide was a first for all of us – so it was quite cool. 



At the visitor desk, the lady suggested the take an hour-long, electric boat trip at 3 pm, and until the we could have our picnic and then wander around the paths to explore the various hides.   So after our picnic, we set off with the kids complete with their life jackets so we didn’t have to return all the way back to he visitor enter.  Naturally about 20 minutes in, I was carrying them :).   





When the boat arrived, we had a bit of a chuckle – as the other people onboard were avid bird watchers complete with cameras about 14 inches long.   Clearly we were tourists out for a ride for the cool breeze on the water.   The guide took us into a hide which is only reachable by boat… and then to the top of a 60 foot climbing structure, but I felt too unsafe up their so I had to leave first yet the kids were happy to stay up it.





Back on land, we enjoyed a Ronaldo ice cream at the visitor center before heading out.  


Norfolk, UK: Norfolk Broads

Today we took the kids to the Norfolk Broads aka “Britain’s Magical Wonderland” for a day out and we all had a great time.  The Norfolk Broads are a series of rivers and lakes (broads) which span about 125 miles which are mostly navigable and so beautiful.  If you click on the link above, you’ll find the full history about them being historic peat quarries (peat was an important sources of fuel) which had been flooded primarily for transporting heavy goods on Wherries and Barges out to sea and towards the large shipping board of London.




Before we left home, we did some research and agreed, we’d try and get on one of the larger, river boat cruises in Wroxham and picked the 2 pm cruise aboard the Queen of the Broads. I really wanted to get on the one with the open top and large wheel on the side, which we coincidentally followed the entire cruise, but that was being used for private coach trips.  Bummer!
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We thought that an hour and a half long ride would be plenty for the kids. However, after seeing all the families on the rented boats having such nice times (some tiny, others enormous and both motor and sail) we agreed, a mini vacation aboard one of them could be a lot of fun for next year.  We could take our time and meander around… stopping for drinks, meals, etc. We could even do some fishing but not sure who would take the fish off the line when caught, Soren?

We packed a picnic and set off to find a place to eat it.  However, after driving around a bit and not finding a place to stop, we took a turn down a really, really narrow road, which had a sign with “river”. Not knowing what we’d find at the end, Nils drove down it.

At the end, we were pleasantly surprised. We came to a launch pad for small boats, a foot path and parking spots overlooking the water way. Across the river was The Ferry Inn which looked great with a huge kids area and tons of boats pulling up. We started outside, but quickly many wasps were around, so we ate in the car, watching the boats pass by us.


When we got our tickets they told us to head to terminal B for boarding about a quarter two.  However, when we got there, the boat was already full and all seats on the upper deck were taken. Nils took a quick double check and found a few seats at the front behind the captain.  While not the most ideal spot on the boat, as the windows didn’t open and it was warm, but it was fine and we did have great views of the scenery.  Some photos were with glare due to shooting through the glass.  One hour & a half was plenty of time too and the kids were starting to get antsy sitting in their seats, being quiet and listening to the pilot point out birds, trees and other points of interest like the sailing boats & boating club, a raft race going on & we spotted an ice cream boat!





The really nice houses on both sides of the waterway were perfect… and a few even looked like homes up in Vermont.  Each one was different than the other, but all with amazing views, cute details like thatched roofs, boat garages and loads of character.

House recently sold – approx. 545,000 pounds














Once we got off the boat, we decided to head back to The Ferry Inn, the place we saw on the other side of the river earlier.  Nils & I both had a beer but within minutes, wasps were all around us.  Soren & Maebh spent about 15 minutes playing around on the slides, bouncy castles and other Wendy houses.  Nils and Soren agreed that they’d both take a ride on the mechanical bull but after waiting a bit and being scared of it and the wasps, Soren just wanted to leave.  The poor guy stung twice by wasps, he is terrified.









It was really such a nice place to visit and we look forward to going back & seeing more parts of the Norfolk Broads by boat.