Broadly Speaking- UK Chapter Spring Meet

Nick Dennis

Well for this meet I went for it; a 4 day spring meet on the Norfolk Broads in the East of England. The area is known as Britains' Magical Waterland being made up of large expanses of water (Broads) connected by rivers and small cuts. The Broads were medieval peat diggings which subsequently flooded. Millions of peat turves were dug to be used for fuel locally but also for nearby cathedrals.

This is Barton Broad. We were based at an activity centre top left in the photo.

Fourteen people attended; mostly paddlers but some who are members but no longer paddle so they came with an electric boat which was great as a fleet tender which could carry gear, food and tired children for us.

Early on the Friday morning Sam and I were both out on the water by 6.30am as this is a magical time. The conditions were quite benign as the sun was rising. There is always the chance of an otter encounter. This morning as we paddled the Bitterns were "booming" in the reedbeds whilst the occasional flash of turquoise gave a Kingfishers location away. A quick hour and then back for a cooked breakfast and freshly brewed coffee or tea. A perfect start to the day.





As the day opened up the wind freshened and as we poked our noses out on to the Northern edge of Barton Broad the highways and swell coming up the whole length of the broad had us spinng 180 degrees ad instead heading up the more sheltered River Ant and Sutton Broad




We all returned safely to the campsite and enjoyed hot supper at the centre. Just enough paddling to get everyone into gear and stretch the muscles. We all slept well as the deer barked in the marsh, the Bitterns continued to "boom" and the owls hooted. The next morning we all awoke to clear skies and sunshine the alarm call for all being several Greater Spotted Woodpeckers sounding like machine guns in the nearby group go Oak trees.

The paddle for the day was the River Ant and The privately owned North Walsham & Dirham Canal. Armed with a picnic we set off; at the entrance to the canal the support vessel had to take another route as our route would be too narrow and shallow for them. It was a great paddle up to the disused Honing lock which was our turnaround and picnic point.


All suitably loaded we set off for the canal. It was a perfect day for paddling; warm, a slight breeze. Marsh Harriers were circling above us, Cranes could be heard "Whooping" in the marsh and fortunately there was very little commercial cruiser traffic. The canal is a wonderful environment absolutely suited to canoes. The kiddies de-camped to the support craft for the day to be spoilt by their grandparents.







Our picnic spot at the disused Honing lock. The plan is for this lock to be repaired and then the section of canal above to be re-watered and put back into use. The coming of steam and the railways made the canal redundant. It is ironic that the railway line is now redundant and a footpath/cycle route whilst the canal is being returned to use. What goes around, comes around.


It was a great day out; a 10 1/2 mile round trip. That evening I had organised a table for us at a local Inn where we ate and drank. On returning to the site later my single malt supply was heavily depleted with likeminded canoeing buddies. Perfect before bed.

Sunday was our final day so I had organised a trip to the Museum of the Broads. A 30 minute paddle up to Stalham. We moored up as the museum is on the waterside and suggested that our canoes could be a "living exhibit" A lovely boating museum which perfectly captured the life and boating background of the Broads.



Of course the museum had ice creams!


I paddled solo today having previously offered my bow seat to Sue, Bens mother, I was in my Cedar Rib so let Andy paddle my Peterborough 16S. I think it suits him well both as a solo and as a tandem for use with his better half. He may need to raid his wallet :)

Well that's it. Spring has sprung here in the UK so lets get paddling!

Thanks for reading.

Very nice, Nick! Sounds like a wonderful few days. I hope the canoes got some deserved attention at the museum.

So why don't the little ones look happier than they do? Ice cream and canoeing - what could be better?!

The photos with the tall brown grasses in soft light (sixth photo in post #1, and third photo in post #2)... what a picturesque scene. Just gorgeous.
The small people were very tired after three days of paddling; so much so that by the time we were back to the start, they were both sound asleep on the floor of the canoe. We managed to lift the boat out of the water, put it on a trolley, wheel it up onto a field where the canoe came loose and fellh off the trolley, remove the trolley and carry the canoe about another 20 meters to where we could get a vehicle to it. Even at that stage they were still bot asleep, so obviously no energy left to smile.
After a bit of quality sleep, this one was on to helping with making the tea.