10 Facts you didn’t know about the Norfolk Broads

Before you embark on you Norfolk Broads Boating Holiday or Cottage Holiday swat up on our facts about the Norfolk Broads and impress your friends and family with your Broads knowledge.

1. The Broads are man made

They may look natural but the Broads were made as a result of peat digging.

In the 12th century peat was used as an alternative fuel source to the diminishing timber supplies. Peat extraction was done by hand and took place up to the 14th century when sea levels rose and water begin to seep into the pits forming the Broads you see today.

The total area of the Broads is 303sq km (117 sq miles) and is made up of 7 rivers and 63 Broads, most of which are less than 4m deep.

3. Lord Nelson learnt to sail on the Broads

Admiral Horatio Nelson was born in the village of Burnham Thorpe on the North Norfolk Coast and was a pupil at Norwich School. A true seaman and hero of many a great sea battle Nelson first learnt to sail on Barton Broad.

4. The Broads is Britain’s largest protected wetland

The rivers Broads, marshes, fens and woodland make the Broads a very unique area and an important destination for naturalists. To enable future generations to enjoy the Broads the Broads Authority was set up to protect the wide variety of plant life, birds and animals that live on the Broads. The Broads Authority carry out vital conservation work and ensure that tourism and recreation do not damage the fragile eco systems of the Broads.

5. Britain’s rarest butterfly the Swallowtail can only be found on the Norfolk Broads

The only butterflies in Britain to come from the Papiliondae family. The caterpillars feast on the milk parsley, which grows in abundance on the Norfolk Broads

6. It is the only member of the National Parks Family which embraces a city

Which means you get the best of both worlds. Enjoy Norwich’s rich heritage and vibrant arts scene one minute and immerse yourself in the beauty and wildlife of the National Park the next.

7. St Helens church in Ranworth is known as the Cathedral of the Broads

As a result of the 100ft bell tower which can be seen from almost anywhere on the northern Broads. If you are feeling energetic you can climb the 89 steps, two ladders and a trap door for fantastic views of the Broads.

8. Only 13 Broads are navigable

Out of the 63 Broads only 13 are open to navigation year round, a further 3 have navigable channels and two are open to boaters in spring and summer. The rest are either too shallow or are physically isolated from main rivers.

9. The Broads are inspirational

The Broads have inspired many fiction writer over the years, the most famous being Arthur Ransom who set his children’s books coot club and big six on the Norfolk Broads.

10. The Hovercraft was invented on the Norfolk Broads

In the 1950’s by Christopher Cockerell, a radio engineer, who at that time was running a boatyard on the Norfolk Broads. The first commercial passenger service across using his invention crossed the channel in 1955.