The Broads are a network of mostly navigable rivers and lakes in the English counties of Norfolk and Suffolk. The Broads, and some surrounding land were constituted as a special area with a level of protection similar to a UK National Park by The Norfolk and Suffolk Broads Act of 1988. The Broads Authority, a Special Statutory Authority responsible for managing the area, became operational in 1989.The total area is 303 square kilometres (117 sq mi), most of which is in Norfolk, with over 200 kilometres (120 mi) of navigable waterways. There are seven rivers and 63 broads, mostly less than 4 metres (13 ft) deep. Thirteen broads are generally open to navigation, with a further three having navigable channels. Some broads have navigation restrictions imposed on them in autumn and winter.For many years the broads were regarded as natural features of the landscape. It was only in the 1960s that Dr Joyce Lambert proved that they were artificial features, the effect of flooding on Mediaeval peat excavations.
The Romans first exploited the rich peat beds of the area for fuel, and in the Middle Ages the local monasteries began to excavate the peat lands as a turbary business, selling fuel to Norwich and Great Yarmouth. The Cathedral took 320,000 tonnes of peat a year. Then the sea levels began to rise, and the pits began to flood. Despite the construction of windpumps and dykes, the flooding continued and resulted in the typical Broads landscape of today, with its reed beds, grazing marshes and wet woodland.The Broads have long been a boating destination, in 1878 small yachts were available from John Loynes and with easy access to the area by rail from London, Harry Blake created an agency for yachting holidays in 1908.The range of boats expanded to include powered cruisers in the 1930s.The waterways are lock-free, although there are three bridges under which only small cruisers and smaller boats can pass. The area attracts all kinds of visitors, including ramblers, artists, anglers, and bird-watchers as well as people “messing about in boats”. Today the area attracts visitors from all over the world.There are also many walking and cycling routes along the rivers, going through beautiful countryside and unspoilt villages and market towns.
Discover a wealth of information on travelling by Motorhome, Caravan or Boat when planning your holiday or trip of a lifetime
Which ever way you wish to travel, do it with style!