driving a boat with the dog

Don’t know about you, dear reader, but I do love a good boating holiday. Particularly on the canals. Where you spend time on a long, thin narrowboat, chugging down long thin canals, working your way up and down locks. Having an excellent time all round, all whilst gliding along at walking speed. A genteel three miles an hour.

However, keeping it on the straight and narrow is not the only game in town. Not any more. For I have discovered the joys of other waterways. In this case, the Norfolk Broads.

So if you fancy trying a different approach to a boating break, there is a way. Just get yourself to Norfolk and head for the Broads. Where the boats are bigger, the beams are broader and the speed limit is a sizzling five or six miles an hour. As a bonus, the views are pretty spectacular too. 

river boating in Norfolk

I know this because that’s exactly what a group of us did. We went online, found the decidedly wonderful Herbert Woods boatyard, then booked ourselves a week aboard a rather swish and luxurious 8 berth beauty, Royale Light 1. It was definitely a different type of adventure to a canal boat holiday

Social Wellness Walks

Getting There

You can get onboard your boat from 2.30 on the day of departure, so we set off from Bristol bright and early. After a long and lovely drive cross country we found ourselves in the wide open landscape of Norfolk. Flat fields, flotillas of windmills and plenty of thatched houses, all stretched out beneath the biggest of big skies. Most pleasing.

The Herbert Woods Boatyard

The boatyard was a real treat, filled as it was by row upon row of enormous, broad shouldered luxury cruisers of all shapes and sizes.

Herbert Woods Boatyard

After a very friendly welcome, followed by an introductory tour around our boat, we were given some useful instruction then allowed out, onto the broads. To see what adventures would float our way.

The Boat

Our boaty home was a pleasing mix of wood, plastic and soft indulgence, with 3 bedrooms, two bathrooms and a wide open living space amidships.

the boat

There were so many sweet spots, it’s hard to know where to begin. So, I shall start at the beginning.

Dog Friendly

Not sure if it applies to all boats, but ours was very definitely dog friendly. We took Foggy the doggy along with us and he had the time of his little life, sitting up top sniffing the breeze, snuggling up cosy down below, or just running free along the waterside paths.

dog on deck

As far as he was concerned, every day was a day in paradise. Felt pretty much the same way myself.

Bedrooms

Climbing on board from the stern, you find yourself in the master bedroom, in boat terms, it’s enormous, stupendous and luxurious. It’s also got an en suite complete with toilet, shower and sink.

boat bedroom

The other two bedrooms are at the front of the boat, the bow, the sharp end. The larger of the two has an island bed, with steps up to either side, whilst the other is a snug and cosy cabin off to one side. The two of them share another fully fitted out bathroom.

the boat's living room

Kitchen / Living Room

When you’re not snuggled up cosy and warm in bed, you can hang out in the living area. A welcoming wide open space in the middle of the ship, with sofas, dining table, radio and TV.

kitchen on the boat

There is also a raised cockpit to one side, where you can drive in comfort, whilst sheltering from the weather outside, if you wish. 

Up Top

If sheltering inside is not your thing, you can always climb the internal ladder, a woody stairway to heaven, which takes you up top to another wide open space.

the cockpit

With cockpit, al fresco dining table and a couple of loungers just right for sun bathing, snoozing or, my preferred option, chilling as the boat glides along.

recliners on the top deck

Cruising The Broads

First question the lovely lady at Herbert Woods asked us when we arrived, was which way we were going. The north broads, or the south ones? Hmm.

Tricky. As our boat had a height of 8ft, we were a bit limited in our pick of northern cruising routes, so decided to just take a quick tour round there before working our way down south. 

Bridges

Reason the height of the boat matters so much, is because of the bridges. There aren’t many bridges which cross the waters of the broads, but the ones that do are often ancient and not that tall. Which also means each bridge has limited headroom. Which is why they always tell you how tall your boat is before you set off.

bridge marker on the Norfolk Broads

Luckily, to help us holidaymakers, there are height marker poles in the water before each bridge, letting you know the height of boat that can safely pass under the arches. 

North Broads

We began by pootling round the north broads, visiting lovely Ludham (great corner shop, butchers and pub), heading on to Horning (great waterside pub where we moored up for the night.

cafe breakfast

Also with a brilliant greasy spoon cafe where we had fab fried English breakfasts the following morning).

However, we soon found that thanks to the rain and the tides, our big old boat couldn’t pass under any of the bridges which led further into the northern reaches. So we turned tail and headed down south. 

norfolk north broads windmill

South Broads

Getting there meant crossing Breydon Water, a wide open body of water that connects to the sea, making it tidal and full of currents. Which means you have to pick and choose a time for setting out on the crossing. Luckily, Great Yarmouth Yacht Station is on hand at the entrance, with friendly sailor types ready and waiting to help you out with kind words, good advice and, in our case, some rather tasty, locally made, berry swirl ice cream. Mmm.

After an hours cruise across the water, we found ourselves in the south broads. First thing you notice is that there are far fewer boats. Which we really enjoyed. Feels like you’re in your very own private (and watery) garden of Eden. Despite the lack of boats, there were still plenty of pubs, shops and cafes to welcome us in. We spent our first night down south moored in Reedham. With a lovely little cafe on hand for supplies.

Loddon mooring

After that we chugged along for a few days, enjoying the stunning scenery, birdlife and sunshine, stopping for superb lunches in quiet backwaters, mooring up for the night in various picturesque villages. A particular favourite was the village of Loddon, which had a pretty basin for boats, plus a busy row of shops, pubs, cafes.

Loddon boat scene

Birdwatching

If checking out feathery friends is your thing, the Broads are an excellent place to be. Actually, even if birding isn’t your thing, it’s still a good idea to take some binoculars along.

bird ornament

We did, and kept ourselves busy spotting an assortment of waders, warblers, ducks and, joy of joys, watching a whole heap of Marsh Harriers out and about, hunting for their dinner across the reeds. On top of all that excitement, we also saw a few birds that left us completely baffled.

the boat from the side

Essential Supplies

As you can tell from the above, throughout the broads, there are plenty of places to moor up, pass the night and pick up supplies.

In the northern broads, you often have to pay for the privileges, not so much in the south. Either way, the thrill of parking up for the night, plugging your boat into mains electricity, or filling up the water tanks, more than makes up for the slight dent in your wallet.

HookUp

Feels like you’re paying pennies to get pounds worth of pleasure. Or maybe that’s just me. Main thing is, keeping yourself fed, watered and happy is very easy and most enjoyable.

Conclusion

This was one of those holidays that did far more than we ever expected it to do; it delivered thrills, spills and memorable moments by the bucket full. Whether you prefer glorious scenery, the sound of bird song filling the air, or just kicking back whilst cruising along in a luxury liner at strolling speed, it’s got the lot.

old sail boat norfolk broads

Turns out, long, thin and narrow is not the only way to enjoy a life on the ocean wave. Or waterways. 

FAQ’s

How many people can fit on a Herbert Woods boat?

Boats can sleep any where from 2 people, all the way up to 8 (+2) people.

How much does it cost?

Prices for a weeks holiday start from £430 per boat.

How do I book?

Head on over to Herbert Woods Or call – 0800 144 4472

Are their Boats Dog Friendly?

Yes, yes, YES! (Says Foggy the Doggy. Woof, woof.)

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