YouR holiday in the Norfolk Broads
About the area
The Norfolk Broads is an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. It is made up of seven rivers and 63 Broads, most of which are less than 4 metres deep. During the middle ages, peat from the marshes was used as fuel for the surrounding villages. The trenches left by this extraction later flooded and formed the Broads. Hickling (Hikelinga – a church with 20 acres) is mentioned in the Domesday Book.
Hickling has been popular with the Royal Family over the years having been visited by King George V and King George VI. In 1959 The Prince of Wales and the Duke of Edinburgh visited Hickling Broad. Fearing flooding at their intended accommodation, arrangements were made for them to stay at The Pleasure Boat Inn. Prince Charles returned to Hickling Broad in November 2001 to mark the 75th anniversary of the Norfolk Wildlife Trust.
Hickling Broad is the largest of the Norfolk Broads at the heart of the Broads National Park, only a short drive from the outstanding Norfolk Coastline and award-winning blue flag beaches.
The Norfolk Broads is famous for its wetland nature reserve, home to wildlife including Swallowtail Butterflies, the Norfolk Hawker Dragonfly, Chinese Water Deer, Reeves Muntjac, Red Deer and Otters but most famously for its birdlife. Summer visitors include Redshank and Lapwing on the marshes, Bitterns, Marsh Harriers, Bearded Tits and Cetti’s Warbler in the Reedbeds and Terns and Ringed Plovers on the shingle.
In winter, huge numbers of wildfowl and waders descend, notably skeins (flying groups) of Pink footed and dark-bellied Brent Geese. Marsh Harriers roost in the reedbed north east of Stubb Mill; Merlin and Hen Harrier are also regular visitors. Barn Owls can often be spotted at dusk patrolling the reed beds for prey and if you are lucky, you may catch the flash of colour of a stunning Kingfisher.
Norfolk Wildlife Trust at Hickling Broad and the Marshes Reserve adjacent to the Broad is possibly the best place to view wild Common Cranes in winter. Sightings of flying and feeding birds are also regular at Hickling Broad in spring and summer
Along with birdwatching, your holiday in the Norfolk Broads offers great opportunities for boating, canoeing, kayaking, Stand Up Paddle (SUP), walking, cycling and fishing.
Things to do
Stand Up Paddle Boarding and Kayaking
Stand Up Paddle (SUP) and kayaking are unique ways to explore the stunning Norfolk Broads National Park and get closer to nature. Norfolk Outdoor Adventures based on The Staithe, Hickling Broad offer high quality guided adventures, instruction and hire in SUP and kayaking. Lessons, guided adventures and hire can all be booked in advance of your stay online.
Places to see
For National Trust in Norfolk; a visit to Horsey Windpump which had stood still and silent since 1943 when it was struck by lightning. Extensive repairs were commenced in 2015 and this iconic grade II listed building is now open to the public. A climb to the top gives you beautiful views of the surrounding countryside. There is also a tea room where you can relax and watch the Windpump’s sails turning.
Norfolk Wildlife Trust
The Norfolk Wildlife Trust, Stubb Road is a short drive or gentle walk from The Pippins. From April to October, wildlife boat trips can be taken from here. These tours visit areas only accessible by boat and also include a visit to the 60ft tall Tree Tower, which offers spectacular views across the Broads and nearby coast.
Whilst you holiday in the Norfolk Broads, why not visit Norwich, just an 18 mile drive from Hickling Broad. This historic City with famous Cathedral, Castle, Museum and Art Gallery is also home to one of the oldest open-air markets in the country. You can also take a trip to the theatre, enjoy the nightlife, cafés and restaurants.
Sea Palling has Blue Flag beach status and is ideal for children with safe waters calmed by man-made coastal defence reefs, backed by sand dunes. In the village, there are cafes, shops, a traditional amusement arcade and pub.
Winterton beach is a great beach to escape from it all. The dunes alongside the beach managed by English Nature are home to the rare Natterjack Toad which breeds in the shallow pools. Winterton beach and Horsey Gap are famous for the largest colonies of Grey Seals to be found anywhere. From November to the end of January the beaches are crowded with seals and their newborn pups.
For more information on places to visit in Norfolk take a look at the Visit Norfolk website here.
Where to eat
The Greyhound Inn
The Greyhound Inn, The Green, Hickling is a traditional village pub in the heart of picturesque Hickling, serving food and local real ale, again within walking distance of The Pippins.
The Ingham Swan
The Ingham Swan is an award-winning restaurant which offers fine dining in a relaxed setting. Norfolk born Chef Patron Daniel Smith has a cast-iron commitment to seasonality, taking great pride in bringing dishes together that embrace every season as well as ideas and flavours from his time on BBC 2’s Great British Menu. We would advise you to book in advance.