Boating on the Norfolk Broads

boatingThe Norfolk Broads is one of the most beautiful areas of the UK. This haven for wildlife was thought to be one of Mother Nature’s creations until the middle of the 20th century. New research revealed that The Broads is actually a man-made phenomenon. Learn some of the areas fascinating history here.

The beautiful region of the Norfolk Broads was actually created in around the 9th or 10th century AD. Local settlers discovered that the peat that is found naturally in the area was a fantastic source of fuel and so the digging began. For over two centuries, peat was extracted from the area to be used as fuel. As the tides began to rise and fill the holes that were left, it led to the creation of the 125 miles of waterways which we know and love today as the Norfolk Broads.

Boating on the Broads

Today in the norfolk broads boat hire is one of the most popular ways to explore the local area. It is the largest wetland in the whole of the UK which means there is an enormous amount of wildlife here, both indigenous and introduced. Rare species such as Swallowtail Butterflies and the Norfolk hawker Dragonfly can be spotted here, as well as many species that were actually thought to be extinct until very recently. It is also the only place in the UK where cranes actually breed in the wild safely. It’s no surprise that the Broads has become such a popular boating destination for nature lovers everywhere.

The waterways of The Broads provided an essential method of transport for Norfolk’s largely agricultural industry for centuries. They were vital for the transport of wool and other agricultural products for many years and helped to establish Norwich as the second largest city in the UK, after London, during the time of the 16th century.

There were also many marsh men who lived in the area and made the most of the wetlands natural resources while tending cattle, fishing the lakes, catching the waterfowl and tending to the rivers that supported their way of life.

It was at the end of the 19th century that people started to become interested in visiting The Broads as a boating holiday destination. With the introduction of the railways, the economy of the area shifted away from commerce and started to focus on the leisure industry instead. The upper and middle classes were drawn to The Broads as an ideal destination for an adventure holiday. Today this industry has grown and it remains one of the UK’s most popular destinations for holidays on the water.

By the 20th century, boat hire on the Broads was commonplace and the railways had brought this destination within easy reach for many thousands of day trippers every year. There are so many opportunities for people to get close to nature when they spend some time mucking about in boats here in Norfolk, including the chance to see a wide variety of rare species that are seldom spotted anywhere else in the UK.

It is certainly interesting to ponder the fact that this area was created by mans exploitation of the natural resources many centuries ago, yet today it is responsible for the preservation of wildlife that cannot be seen anywhere else.


Jennifer Jones writes regularly on the history of Norfolk Broads boat hire for a range of travel and tourism websites and blogs. She has lived in the area for most of her life and finds the local history to be a constant source of wonder and interest.

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