When arriving on your Norfolk Broads boating holiday, we’re often asked where the best place is to moor for the first night.
It's all about the timings and really just depends on two factors.
Firstly, the time you collect your hire boat (which is 2.30pm for short breaks of 3 & 4 nights and cruisers in the Elite range) or 4pm for all other cruisers on 7 night stays or more as this will dictate how far you can travel until it gets dark. Hire boats are not permitted to be on the broads after dark and should be moored one hour before sunset as they don’t have navigation lights. The amount of daylight hours left will dictate how far you can get but of course you may wish to get settled and head to the nearest moorings (and pub or restaurant perhaps!).
Secondly the time of year. It goes without saying the month of June will see the most hours of daylight and sunsets past 9pm will give you more time to moor somewhere for the night. During the height of summer, you may want to moor earlier if it’s at a very popular spot in order to get a space.
You will be given a complimentary map on arrival although you can purchase these in advance for £4 if you wish to start your planning earlier. To get you started though, we’ve put together our 7 top spots for first night moorings in order of distance from Herbert Woods marina.
Don’t forget if you want to moor up somewhere on your last night, you need to be within an hour’s reach of the marina as hire boats have a return time to the boat yard of 9am and across the Broads, engines are permitted to be switched on at 8am.
Herbert Woods Marina
You are welcome to stay in the marina overnight for free. Often parties/groups find this option handy when others are joining them the next morning. Mooring in the boat yard often gives a chance to get settled & purchase fresh supplies – some even chose to have their shopping delivered directly to the boat yard (and even local takeaways will deliver here and at many other mooring points too - you'll find a comprehensive list in your skippers manual). There is a shop just across the road where fresh goods can be purchased. In April 2018 a pub and restaurant called Norada opened its doors if cooking on board isn’t a preferred choice on the first night.
If you’re keen to leave the marina and moor up to be ‘on the Broads’, you can choose to moor just outside of the marina on the River Thurne. Potter Heigham has free moorings on the Repps bank. The moorings here are particularly favoured as they catch both the morning and evening sun.
Womack Staithe at Ludham is a popular choice. Head out of Potter Heigham towards Ludham Marshes National Nature Reserve and turn right onto Womack Water. Follow the river along and you’ll come to the staithe on your right. Here you’ll find the village of Ludham with its pub, the King’s Arms, a convenience store, post office and butchers a short walk from the free moorings.
If you continue along the River Thurne, before you get to Thurne Mouth which joins the River Bure either towards Acle or Wroxham, you’ll find Thurne Dyke. You won’t miss Thurne Dyke Drainage Mill which was built in 1820 by the millwrights England & Co. of Ludham
Thurne is around 20 mins away from the marina. The Lion Inn at Thurne serves some fabulous food and drink at reasonable prices, it’s pet friendly and there’s even access to the playing field next to the pub which has a children’s play area. There is separate restaurant area for those who wish to dine separate from the bar area.
There are ample moorings for 30 boats or the pub is a short walk from the public moorings at Thurne Mouth if you can’t get moored outside the pub. They do advise to give them a call if you can’t see moorings as there are some that aren’t visible from the river. They charge a small fee of £5 for moorings from 4pm to 9am.
If you choose to travel just a short distance further, your next stop could depend on where you plan on travelling the next day or for your entire holiday. Taking a right would lead towards the Northern Broads such as Horning, Wroxham and Coltishall on the River Bure or to Ludham, Irstead, Neatishead and Sutton on the River Ant. Taking a left would lead you through Upton, Acle and Stokesby to reach the Southern Broads gateway at Yarmouth leading to locations such as Loddon, Brundall, Norwich, Beccles, St Olaves, Reedham, Rockland Broad and Oulton Broad.
St. Benet’s Abbey
If heading to the Northern Broads, continue to the junction with the River Bure at Thurne Mouth and then turn right onto the Bure where you will pass the remains of St. Benet's Abbey to your right. This was once one of the most important religious sites in East Anglia and dates back to the 11th century. As well as being of great historical interest, St. Benet's Abbey is also very atmospheric and a wonderful place to spend time surrounded by the wide-open skies.
You can arrive here in around 1 hour 10 mins from the marina. There are approximately 60 free broad’s authority moorings here.
You won’t find any places to eat just here but the view from the 'hill' here is one of the best on the broads with a 360-degree panoramic view stretching for miles.
If heading to the Southern Broads, take a left on to the River Bure at Thurne Mouth and continue downstream on the right you’ll find the entrance to Upton Dyke. This dyke is a public dyke with free moorings available at the head of the dyke. The dyke is quite narrow and large craft may have reverse out.
You’ll reach here in approximately 1hr 20 mins.
You’ll find the White Horse pub 10 mins from the moorings. The White Horse is a 200-year-old pub set in idyllic surroundings.
Again, if heading to the Southern Broads, this is great place to moor with ample moorings. You’ll arrive at Acle in around an hour and a half.
Acle Bridge Inn pub and restaurant right next to the moorings never fails to deliver on quality or service. A great family pub and place to start your holidays. They have twelve on site moorings that are available to use all year round. During the day moorings are free and a charge of £5 per night per boat from 6pm is applicable but refunded if you dine with them. Moorings cannot be reserved.
There are 16 free Broads Authority Moorings also at Acle.
On the other side of Acle Bridge you’ll find Pedro’s, a Mexican Tapas restaurant who offer moorings on a first come first serve basis for £5 a night. The charge can be redeemed off food and you can also book moorings with a restaurant booking in advance.
Other useful hints and tips on mooring
During your holiday don’t forget that free mooring is available at any British Hire Boat Federation Boat Yards and most boat yards are members. A list of boat yards providing free moorings for Herbert Woods' customers is in your skippers manual on board.
Pubs with moorings do tend to charge for their usage overnight. The amount is usually about £5 and in most cases redeemable against eating/drink there. In your Herbert Woods Privilege brochure given to you on arrival you’ll fine special offers on mooring for Herbert Woods customers.
There are large stretches of free moorings along the banks and rivers. Look out for the Broads Authority signs.
If you can’t find a mooring for any reason, your cruiser may also be supplied with a mud weight which can be used to anchor the boat away from the banks. Always make sure the rope is attached to the boat and the mud weight before throwing it in the water!
Worried about mooring up? Read our guide on how to moor