One of my all-time favourite family holiday destinations in the UK has to be barging down the Norfolk Broads. With an array of relatives and an excitable cocker spaniel in tow, we hired a ten berth barge and were amazed by the facilities available. There was a fully quipped galley which to my mother-in-laws delight included a standard fridge and cooker (I think she has visions of cooking for a family of 10 with one gas ring!). We were able to hire both a highchair and a travel cot which, as I’m sure all parents will agree, is much easier than trying to share your bed with a toddler. Plus the saloon area had a full sliding canopy so we could enjoy the delights of the Norfolk weather, or hid from it accordingly.
The whole family were in awe of the Broads from the moment we clapped eyes on them. Comprising of a series of rivers and broads (known as lakes to the rest of us), we enjoyed endless days nudging ourselves down the waterways. Although the Norfolk Broads total over 300 kilometres, about two thirds of which are navigable, we managed a lot less. It wasn’t down to our sailing expertise, but to our lifestyle choices. We actually spent our days marvelling at the wildlife and our evenings in numerous pubs.
Although the weather on the Broads can be changeable, we were blessed with some very nice sunshine on a number of days. This made it much easier to enjoy all that nature had to offer. Armed with our wildlife book, we managed to spot the famous Coot with its grey body, black head and crisp white bill, Along with Bearded Tits who are a little more colourful. To our delight, we also saw a Swallowtail which, according to our book, is one of the rarest butterflies in Britain and only lives in the Norfolk Broads. With a wingspan of around three inches, it’s definitely the largest butterfly I had ever seen.
But it wasn’t only the magnificent waterways and abundant wildlife that made the holiday truly amazing, we also visited some really nice pubs. Amongst my favourites is the Bridge Inn in Acle. This pub had moorings, making it easy to pull up alongside. They offered a warm welcome to both my dog and my children, with outdoor play actively encouraged. Serving hearty, traditional food, this pub was a hit with the whole family – plus the beer was good too.
The Fur and Feather was another winner. Whilst on a day out in Norwich looking around the shops, the rain started so we took cover in this fabulous pub. As well as sampling the ale, we also stayed for a spot of lunch which was homemade and included seasonal, local produce – it was more like eating in a five star restaurant than a pub.
All in all, we had an amazing trip and as a UK holiday destination for the whole family, the Norfolk Broads is highly recommended.