Yare, Norwich and Lowestoft Navigation
The River Yare Navigation, situated in the Broadlands of East Anglia, is more than just a single river. Its course from Norwich to the sea consists of the River Wensum, the River Yare, Thorpe New Cut, Breydon Water and the Yare Estuary (including Great Yarmouth harbour and docks). The navigation also has numerous branches in the form of dikes, cuts, other rivers (such as the Chet) and even a canal (Haddiscoe New Cut).
Today, the area known as the Norfolk Broads is one of Britain’s most popular holiday destinations though the Broads themselves provide only a part of the attraction. Norfolk has a whole network of rivers which connect the Broads to each other, to local towns and to the sea. These rivers are now festooned with hire boat bases and marinas and the riverbanks are flanked by hundreds of holiday cottages. Before the holiday onslaught arrived there was a thriving commercial trade which often provided small communities with their only means of transport.
The heart of the Broads network is Great Yarmouth and, in particular, Breydon Water where the River Yare, River Waveney and River Bure all meet to run into the sea.
Although all of the above rivers were important and very busy, it was the River Yare which became the most important as it connected the city of Norwich to the sea at Great Yarmouth…
An Act was passed to allow the Great Yarmouth Commissioners to levy tolls and make improvements to the River Yare. In the main this was dredging work as the River Yare was badly silted.
However, although some river improvements were made and Great Yarmouth Harbour was redeveloped, the River Yare continued to suffer from silting.
Further Acts were needed in 1722, 1747 and 1749 but none of these cured the problem. In the main, the fault lay with the Great Yarmouth Commissioners who, after receiving each Act, spent most of the money on refurbishing their own harbour while neglecting the river and its staithes (wharfs).
Traders along the River Yare, especially at Norwich, were very unhappy about the state of the river and when yet another Act was sought by the Commissioners the traders made sure that legislation was made stating that money raised from tolls should be divided accordingly between Yarmouth Harbour and the River Yare Navigation. Norwich was granted 3/20ths of the toll receipts in order to improve navigation between the city and Hardley Cross while the Commissioners were ordered to spend 5/20ths on the river from Hardley Cross to Great Yarmouth. At first the completed work made great improvements to navigation though this turned out to be short lived. In the following years the river soon silted up again.
Meanwhile, a plan was put forward to connect the Norfolk Broads (via Norwich) to King’s Lynn on the distant River Great Ouse. This was at a time when Norwich desperately wanted good supplies of wool from the Midlands. Later, another plan was put forward to connect Norwich to the River Great Ouse near Downham Market (south of King’s Lynn) to tap into the corn and wool supplies of Northamptonshire, Huntingdonshire and Cambridgeshire. Sadly, neither of these plans ever saw the light of day.
Once again the state of the navigable route between Great Yarmouth and Norwich was in a poor state. In particular the wide stretch known as Breydon Water was very shallow. The men of Norwich, led by Alderman Crisp Brown, decided that they had had enough of the Great Yarmouth Commissioners and asked engineer William Cubitt to survey the river with a view to improving the navigation themselves. He reported that the easiest and cheapest remedy was simply to dredge a brand new channel across the south of Breydon Water and then dredge the whole of the river above Breydon Water.
Cubitt’s report was made public and the Great Yarmouth Commissioners immediately raised objections. They feared that changes to the river, and especially to Breydon Water, would seriously effect their harbour. John Rennie was called in to make a report on their behalf and he agreed that changes to Breydon Water would cause serious silting to Great Yarmouth Harbour.
This led the tradesmen of Norwich to ask Cubitt to make a new survey, this time with the intention of bypassing Great Yarmouth altogether. Cubitt suggested the construction of a brand new cut from Reedham on the River Yare to Haddiscoe (near St. Olaves) on the River Waveney. A few miles upstream of St. Olaves the River Waveney connected to Oulton Broad (via Oulton Dyke), he suggested these could be made navigable, along with Lake Lothing, allowing vessels to enter the river network from the sea at Lowestoft.
The cost of this plan was estimated to be twice that of Cubitt’s first plan but it was decided that this would be the better route because it would take away Great Yarmouth’s monopoly and control over both river and coastal cargoes. Better still – it would allow coastal vessels to travel all the way to Norwich, turning the city into a “sea port”. Thomas Telford expressed his view on the plan, telling Norwich and Great Yarmouth that he thought the original plan would not harm the harbour at all. But by this time Norwich were determined to bypass Great Yarmouth and control their own trade.
Away from the main trading route eastwards to the sea, other men were planning an extension which would take the navigation some 15 miles west of Norwich to East Dereham via the conversion of the small River Tud. A subscription list was opened but, presumably due to lack of interest, no more was heard of the idea.
After a number of years of planning, an Act was sought to allow the setting up of the Norwich & Lowestoft Navigation Company. Proposals were made to deepen the River Yare between Norwich and Reedham, build a 2½ mile canal from Reedham to Haddiscoe, enlarge Oulton Dyke, create a short link between Oulton Broad and Lake Lothing and another from Lake Lothing to the sea. Before the Act was granted, a fairly large inquiry was held which included evidence from numerous top civil engineers of the day. These were William Cubitt, Alexander Nimmo, William Chapman, James Walker, Benjamin Bevan and Thomas Telford. In the end the Bill was rejected due to the successful objections of Great Yarmouth and the owners of local marshlands who had been easily convinced that the new navigation would have devastating effects on their livelihood. Within a few months a new Bill was submitted to Parliament but again it was defeated by Great Yarmouth who spent £8,000 in securing the Bill’s rejection.
A third attempt was made to put the Bill through Parliament. This time, rather than just promoting their own route, the projectors also brought evidence attacking Great Yarmouth. It was claimed that hundreds of pounds worth of goods were lost every year through theft or damage while being transhipped at Great Yarmouth Harbour. It was also argued that goods such as coal would have their price considerably reduced if the monopolising transhipment at Great Yarmouth could be avoided. This time the Act was granted and great celebrations were held in Norwich when the announcement was made that the tradesman had at last overcome the opposition from Great Yarmouth. Later, during Autumn, Alderman Brown cut the first sod of the new navigation.
The first part of the route to be completed was a ¼ of a mile section linking Lake Lothing to the North Sea at Lowestoft.
The double-gated sea lock and sluice connecting Lake Lothing to Oulton Broad at Mutford bridge was completed.
A new harbour was opened at Lowestoft and this completed work on the eastern section of the new navigation. The work completed so far had cost far more than expected and it was obvious that Cubitt’s estimate of £100,000 for the whole route would be well below the actual final cost. The company applied to the Exchequer Bill Loan Commissioners and received a grant of £50,000.
Thanks to the extra money, the canal cut between Reedham and Haddiscoe was completed. Over the following year the River Yare was dredged and deepened.
On September 30th, the 32 mile Norwich & Lowestoft Navigation was opened. However, the opening ceremonies did not pass without a hitch….
The tug Jarrow had been due to meet a small fleet of boats at the entrance of Haddiscoe New Cut to tow them in a precession to Norwich. Jarrow had been moored at Great Yarmouth Harbour but when it attempted to move upstream the Great Yarmouth Commissioners refused to open Yarmouth Bridge.
The captain set about cutting down the tug’s funnel and this eventually allowed it to pass under the bridge. However, by this time the tide had dropped and left Breydon Water too shallow to allow Jarrow to pass! Meanwhile another tug, Susanna, was bringing a small fleet of boats from Lowestoft to Reedham where it was due to meet Jarrow. However, Susanna got no further than Haddiscoe because it had inefficient engines and had run out of coal!
The opening celebrations had to be held over until the next day when several boat loads of VIP’s sailed downstream to meet the other vessels at Reedham. The plan was for the whole fleet to travel upstream into Norwich but when the Captain of Susanna learned that his boat would not be leading the procession he refused to take part at all and cast off – leaving the scene.
This left a number of vessels with no tow so the son of the master of the boat City Of Norwich took a rowing boat onto the river in order to tie his boat to the tug Squire. Sadly, as he reached Squire he lost his balance, banged his head on the tug, knocked himself out, fell into the river and drowned. Despite all this, the celebrations were said to be “memorable” and reminiscent of the many canal openings of the 1790’s.
The Norwich, Lowestoft & London Shipping Company were the first carriers on the new navigation and for the first few years the new route appeared to be doing well. However, it soon became clear that revenue from tolls was far less than the outgoing cost of operation and maintenance. Because of this the company were unable to pay back the money owed to the Exchequer Bill Loan Commissioners.
The arrival of railways in the Norwich area ended any hope of overcoming the company’s cash crisis. With no sign of any repayments being made, the Exchequer Bill Loan Commissioners took control of the navigation with the sole intention of reselling it to get their money back.
Sir Morton Peto bought the Norwich & Lowestoft Navigation from the Commissioners. However, putting boats on the waterway was not among his top ideas. He was intending to build a railway and the elimination of all waterborne competition was foremost in his thoughts. He also had a number of plans to develop industry around Lowestoft Harbour.
The people of Norwich – who must have been very dismayed after losing the waterway they had fought so hard to acquire – attempted to acquire it again by putting a new Bill through Parliament. Once again it had its objectors and for no apparent reason (other than old time sake) these included the Great Yarmouth Commissioners. Objections were so strong that the Bill was withdrawn.
Morton Peto, who also owned Lowestoft Railway & Harbour Company, leased the navigation to the Norfolk Railway Company who later became Great Eastern Railways. By this time, due to no maintenance whatsoever, the navigation was beginning to decay, Lake Lothing had silted up and the sluice at Mutford bridge was proving inadequate. Most traders on the River Yare began to use the original route to Breydon Water and Great Yarmouth Harbour, avoiding Haddiscoe New Cut and Lowestoft altogether. This brought about the end of commercial traffic (in any large quantity) on the Norwich & Lowestoft Navigation just 15 years after it first opened.
A Mr. Botterell gave a lecture in Norwich, promoting the idea of a ship canal from the city to Great Yarmouth. He was keen to turn Norwich into a large port and also promoted the idea of creating a massive naval base, 11 miles downstream of the city, on Rockland Broad. His plan was to extend the broad from 60 acres to 400 acres and then move the base at Woolwich in London to the River Yare. The scheme was never put into practice.
In the early years of the 20th century a new type of boating began to take over in the Broadlands. More and more pleasure craft were using the waterways and the Broads soon became a very popular holiday destination. Soon there were hire boat bases and boat yards on just about every inlet and at almost every staithe.
Loddon, on the River Chet Branch of the River Yare Navigation, saw its last waterborne trade. Since this time the River Chet has been used only by pleasure craft.
Bad floods near Reedham caused great damage to the banks of Haddiscoe New Cut. The British Transport Commission (run by the Government) now controlled the cut but rather than repair the damage they proposed to close it down.. However, they clearly did not expect the onslaught which resulted from the proposal as thousands of people (especially those from the many yachting associations) protested and the Government were forced to keep the cut open.
Haddiscoe New Cut was transferred to the East Suffolk & Norfolk River Board (later the Anglian Water Authority) though there has been very little commercial trade on it since this time (or for many years before). The cut does however provide a very popular short cut from the River Yare to the River Waveney for thousands of pleasure craft every year.
Today The River Yare, between Norwich and Great Yarmouth, has continued to be used commercially since Petos’ take-over in 1848 to the present day. Coal trade ended in the 1960’s but a small number sea-going coasters still carry goods on the river. However, even though commercial trade is now very small, the River Yare is actually busier today than it has ever been due to the ever growing popularity of pleasure boating on the Norfolk Broads
River Yare Navigation Route
The River Yare is probably the least attractive of all the Broadland rivers, it also has less features and less villages than the other rivers. The main reasons for this are its size (it is a much larger waterway than the other broads rivers) and its continued commercial trade. The Yare Navigation is the only surviving commercial waterway in the Broadlands, large ocean-going vessels can still be seen (albeit just once a week now) carrying oil to Cantley.
It is not possible to walk the whole route and access points are scarce, roads are few. The best way to see the Yare (without a boat) is to visit the villages and towns along the route. A number of pubs are also dotted along the riverbank, some of which are quite isolated.
In its favour the Yare Navigation has the attractions of Great Yarmouth, the harbour and docks and central Norwich. It also has numerous branches and links to a number of the Norfolk Broads.
The River Yare flows into the North Sea at Gorleston-On-Sea (grid ref TG534037), some 2½ miles south of Great Yarmouth town centre. Heading upstream it runs north west (almost parallel to the coast) into Great Yarmouth. In Great Yarmouth the docks are busy with sea-going vessels, a ship spotter could spend many enjoyable hours watching the comings and goings. A main road (South Quay) runs right alongside the river just to the west of Yarmouth town centre.
Following the route of the river upstream it is crossed by Haven (lift) Bridge (TG521075) in the centre of Great Yarmouth. About 500 yards further north the River Bure flows in from the north (TG518079). The Bure is the most popular of the Norfolk rivers and is also the link to the River Ant and River Thurne.
Beyond the confluence with the Bure, the Yare curves left, under Breydon Lifting Bridge, into the wide expanses of Breydon Water (TG516080). Although Breydon Water is wide, the navigable channel is fairly narrow and is marked by coloured posts which create a straight line close to the southern bank. The channel runs south westerly for about 3 miles until Breydon Water narrows and reverts to a normal river. As it does so, the River Waveney flows in from the south (TG471052) near Burgh Castle. The castle is actually a Roman fort which is described in the River Waveney page.
The River Yare Navigation continues south westerly from the junction with the River Waveney and immediately passes the remote Berney Arms on the northern bank (TG465049). This can only be reached by boat or on foot and is home to the tallest wind pump in Britain.
The next 3½ miles continue in a generally south westerly direction though the river meanders a fair amount across the flat and featureless landscape. There are no villages or settlements on this stretch though the Seven Mile House pub is situated about ½ way along on the north bank (TG445028). Again there appears to be no road access. Beyond the pub is a stretch used by water skiers which is followed by Reedham Junction where Haddiscoe New Cut arrives from the south east (TG426014). This cut is a canal built as part of the Norwich & Lowestoft Navigation.
Beyond the junction the Yare now heads generally west and runs through Reedham (TG419016). In the village the Lowestoft railway crosses the river on a huge swing bridge. The Ship Inn is just beyond the bridge, as are a long line of houses, a gift shop, a boat yard and the Lord Nelson pub – all of which face the river on its northern bank. A road (called Riverside) runs along the bank and there are mooring points and car parks situated on this road. There is nothing (apart from fields of reeds) on the south bank and there is no access to that side of the river. Reedham is a very pleasant village.
To the west of Reedham is one of the Broads’ most famous attractions – Reedham Chain Ferry (TG407014) which carries the B1140 over the river. This is the last surviving car ferry on the Broads and it is still well used as it is the only road crossing on the River Yare throughout the 25 miles from Breydon Bridge in Great Yarmouth to Postwick Viaduct Bridge in Norwich. It is pulled back and forth across the river by chains and can carry 2 cars per journey. There is a pub, a wind pump and a campsite close to the ferry. The river is higher than the surrounding land in this area, almost like an embankment on a man made canal. The ferry is a strange looking thing but well worth the £2.00 it costs to take your car across (20p per pedestrian or passenger – driver goes free!).
Within ½ a mile of the ferry, the River Yare Navigation turns and begins its north westerly journey towards Norwich. As it does so, the River Chet flows in from the south west at Hardley Cross (TG401011). The River Chet is navigable for about 3 miles into Loddon (TM362990), on route it passes Hardley Flood Nature Reserve, Pyes Mill picnic area and numerous hire boat bases. In Loddon there is a basin and just beyond the head of navigation (at the road bridge) is a water mill which straddles the river. The best access to the River Chet is in the centre of Lodden. There is a car park beside the marina on Bridge Street.
Back on the main line, the River Yare Navigation meanders around Hardley Marshes, passing (on the south bank) the entrance to Hardley Dyke (TG390016) which is about ¼ of a mile long and now used exclusively for private moorings. Another water-skiing stretch is just beyond the dyke and about 1½ miles further upstream is the village of Cantley (TG382034) which is situated on the north bank. You cannot fail to see the huge Cantley sugar beet factory as you travel around this area, it is visible for many miles across the flat marshlands. It stands right on the water’s edge and was served for many years by river wherry but carrying via the river ended in the 1960’s. There are moorings immediately beyond the factory in front of the Red House pub. Although this is a pleasant location the view from the pub is somewhat restricted. A small flood embankment sits right in front of the building with the river out of sight on the other side. Tables and seats have been placed on and around the embankment, affording a good view whilst your thirst is quenched. Cantley is reached via the minor roads to the west of the B1140 (Acle to Reedham road).
Another 2 mile stretch of water-skiing starts straight after leaving Cantley and within this 2 miles is the entrance (on the south bank) to Langley Dyke (TG368029). Like Hardley Dyke, this is ¼ of a mile long and heads south westerly. Unlike Hardley Dyke, this one is open to the public and has mooring points at its head. There is a road junction (Langley Green and Staithe Road) near the head of the dyke (TG363026). The Wherry pub is close to the road junction and just to the north west is the ruined Langley Abbey.
About 2 miles further upstream is the Beauchamp Arms (TG350044) which stands on the south bank. This large pub is reached on Ferry Road. Buckenham passenger ferry connected Claxton (on the south side) to Buckenham (on the north). There are good views of the river from the pub garden and there are moorings for boaters.
Another mile north west brings the River Yare to Rockland St.Mary (on the south side). Here a short dyke named… Short Dyke… leaves the river in a south westerly direction (TG339052). It runs for nearly ½ a mile into Rockland Broad (TG332050) which is very shallow and marked with buoys to show the navigable channel. In the south west corner of this small Broad is the entrance to Boat Dyke which is ¼ of a mile long and curves south to Rockland Staithe which was once a busy wharf (TG328045). Today there are boat moorings at the staithe which is situated on Low Road. This road heads east out of Rockland St. Mary and passes the staithe near the New Inn pub. The pub is strict about non-patrons using its parking spaces but there is a public car park (almost hidden) just west of the pub on the north side of the road.
On the north edge of Rockland Broad is Wheatfen Broad which is not navigable but is home to the Ted Ellis Nature Reserve. Heading north east out of Rockland Broad is Fleet Dyke which runs for ¾ of a mile back into the River Yare about ½ a mile upstream from the entrance to Short Dyke.
Less than ½ a mile further upstream, Strumpshaw Fen Nature Reserve is situated on the north bank with Strumpshaw Steam Museum close by. Both of these are reached via the minor roads running south east out of Brundall.
Within another mile, the river reaches the small town of Brundall. Two dykes leave the river, running parallel to each other in a north easterly direction. The first is Brundall Bay Marina – used for private moorings. The second is Hobros’ Dyke which has numerous small inlets going off it which are home to dozens of hire boat companies and boat yards. This dyke runs for about ½ a mile and then takes a sharp left turn, coming to a head within another 300 yards (TG329079). There is a car park near the head alongside Brundall Yacht Club, a pub and Brundall Railway Station, these are reached via Station Road which heads south from the centre of Brundall. Hobros’ Dyke and its many inlets, numerous boat yards and holiday homes can be seen by walking south from the car park. Strictly speaking this is a private lane with the boat yards on one side and holiday homes on the other. Eventually the lane comes to a dead end at the final boat yard where Hobros’ Dyke makes a junction with the River Yare (TG325071).
Across the River Yare, directly opposite the entrance to Hobros’ Dyke on the south bank, is the Coldham Hall Inn (TG324071). The pub is/was home to a Penyano, a very rare form of entertainment resembling an early form of jukebox. It is actually a clockwork barrel-organ which plays 6 different tunes on the insertion of an old penny. The inn is reached on a lane called Coldham Hall Carnser to the north east of Surlingham. It is situated on a bend in the River Yare which is the start of a 2¾ mile loop around The Outmeadows. This loop (and Brundall) can be bypassed by using a 1½ mile short cut which begins shortly after the Coldham Hall Inn. The short cut heads west for ½ a mile on Surlingham Dyke (TG325073) and enters the south east corner of Bargate Water. On the west side of this lake is Birds Dyke which heads north for ¼ of a mile back into the River Yare on the west side of Brundall. Close by (south of the river) is Surlingham Broad (TG310076) which used to be closed to boats and used only as a nature reserve though it was reopened to navigation a number of years ago.
The navigation now begins to curve south westwards and after one mile it passes the Ferry House pub, Surlingham passenger ferry and Surlingham Church Marsh Nature Reserve (TG308075). These are all situated on the south bank and reached via Ferry Road, heading north west out of Surlingham. Meanwhile, Postwick Wharf (TG307075) is directly opposite on the north bank and can be reached via Ferry Lane, heading south east out of Postwick.
After another 1½ miles the river curves right, around Postwick Marsh. The settlement of Bramerton is on the southern crest of the bend. Here there is road running for several hundred yards along the waterfront (TG292061). As well as houses and other buildings, the large Woods End Tavern faces the river (and serves very nice meals)!
Heading north west once again, the River Yare Navigation is now on its final stretch into Norwich. After about a mile the river is crossed by the first bridge since Breydon Bridge at Great Yarmouth. This is Postwick Viaduct Bridge which carries the fairly new A47 dual-carriageway – there is no access to the river.
Past the bridge the river swings west with hire boat centres on the north bank and a picnic area with car parks at Whitlingham Country Park on the south bank (TG268078). This is reached on Whitlingham Lane which is north off the A47 about a mile south of Postwick Viaduct Bridge.
The Yare now turns sharp right and then meanders alongside the country park for about 800 yards until it comes close to the railway line into Norwich (TG264082). Here there is a junction where the Yare splits into two. To the left (heading west) is the “new” River Yare (known as Thorpe New Cut), this is now the main line. Straight ahead (north west) is the original waterway (known as Thorpe Old River). This passes under a fairly low railway bridge and immediately turns west to run parallel with the new river. Between the two waterways is an island on which is a hire base and the railway. The new cut was not built to shorten the navigation but was created by the Norwich & Lowestoft Railway Company in 1844 when, apparently, they needed to build bridges over what is now the Thorpe Old River at a very low level. They were faced with the choice of either installing swing bridges or creating the new cut. They opted for the new cut.
The new cut continues to run alongside Whitlingham County Park while the old river passes the Kings Head pub and the attractive village green of Thorpe St. Andrew (TG259083). There are grassy banks right along the old river at Thorpe and there are plenty of parking places on the A1242 which runs along the northern bank.
After just 900 yards the old cut rejoins the new (TG254081), emerging from under the second Thorpe Railway Bridge. Less than ½ a mile further upstream is the confluence with the River Wensum at Trowse Mill Junction (TG250078). Although the River Yare takes the navigable route from Great Yarmouth to Norwich, above the confluence with the River Wensum the Yare is shallow and not navigable. The River Wensum is the bigger of the two rivers here and it is it which takes the navigation into the city, through Trowse Swing Bridge (TG245076) which carries the main line railway to London and Carrow Road Lift Bridge (TG238077) which carries the A147 over the navigation. On the north bank of the Wensum at Carrow Road bridge is Norwich City football ground.
The A147 (Riverside) clings to the east bank of the River Wensum as both curve northwards for about 900 yards to Norwich railway station and the Complete Angler pub where Prince Of Wales Road bridge crosses the river (TG238084). This is the main road into Norwich city centre which is just a few yards to the west.
There are a few parking places on Riverside (along the east bank of the Wensum) and there are lots of other car parks within easy reach. The road looks directly down onto the east bank of the river with good views all the way along this stretch which lasts about 600 yards from Prince Of Wales Road bridge to Bishop Bridge (TG239089). Between the bridges the navigation passes Norwich Yacht Station, Pull’s Ferry and Norwich Boat Hire. The ancient Pull’s Ferry (TG238087) is an extremely attractive spot, once used as the waterborne entrance to Norwich Cathedral. It can be seen from Riverside (road) but can only be reached on the west bank. Bishop Bridge is the oldest of Norwich’s 10 river crossings, it carries Bishopgate (road) directly to Norwich Cathedral.
Beyond the bridge the River Wensum is closed to hire boats but can be navigated by private craft for one more mile, curving left to New Mills (TG226090) in the north west corner of the city centre.
Norwich & Lowestoft Navigation Route
Lowestoft does not have a river estuary running into the sea – it has a lake! Lake Lothing was connected to the sea in 1828 and then connected to Oulton Broad one year later. At the seaward (eastern) end of the lake (grid ref TM552926) their are two harbours with Lowestoft Bridge (on the A12) crossing the lake between the two. The lake is about 1¾ miles long heading directly west (upstream) from the coast.
Carlton Railway Swing Bridge and the A1117 (Mutford Lift Bridge) cross the navigation at the point where Mutford Lock links Lake Lothing to Oulton Broad (TM520927). The double-gated sea lock is the start (or head) of navigation for hire boats. Oulton Broad is a popular place, its banks are home to a museum, a number of pubs and restaurants, shops, holiday homes, a swimming pool and numerous picnic areas. The broad itself is home to yachting, skiing, powerboat racing and a number of trip boats. With all this going on it can’t be easy to navigate a hire boat across it!
One mile west, across Oulton Broad, is the entrance to Oulton Dyke (TM501929). This heads north west for about 1¼ miles and then runs into the River Waveney (TM500943). To the south west (upstream) the Waveney is navigable through Beccles to Geldeston while the route of the Norwich & Lowestoft Navigation heads north (downstream) on the Waveney. The river meanders downstream in a north westerly direction for 4 miles towards St. Olaves, passing Somerleyton Staithe (TM475970) on route. At the staithe is a short inlet used as a hire boat base.
At St. Olaves the River Waveney heads north easterly (after a bit of a meander) towards Great Yarmouth but the Norwich & Lowestoft Navigation leaves the river just south of St. Olaves and heads dead straight for 2½ miles along Haddiscoe New Cut – which is actually a rather broad canal. (TM456988).
After about ¼ of a mile the A143 crosses the cut, this is the only road access along this stretch. The bridge is a huge new fly-over though the original road, and the site of an old swing (or lift) bridge can be driven to, right to the edge of the canal. There is a pub beside the site of the removed bridge but sadly it was boarded up when I was here in 1997. In fact, St. Olaves on the whole looks somewhat run-down. Old pictures from the 60’s & 70’s show a thriving holiday town but at the moment it is somewhat drab and deserted. About ½ a mile after the road bridge, the River Waveney curves right alongside the eastern bank of the cut for a hundred yards or so.
The cut appears to be somewhat featureless with no pubs, mills or villages along its straight route. The Lowestoft railway line clings to the western bank while a footpath runs along the eastern bank. It may also be possible to drive along this path as it appeared to be a wide track (at the St. Olaves end at least).
At the far end of Haddiscoe New Cut the navigation joins the River Yare, just east of Reedham, to head upstream to Norwich
Great Yarmouth Docks (TG521075), seen from South Quay (road) just south of Haven Bridge.
Berney Arms (TG465049), on the north bank, reached only by boat or on foot from Berney Arms railway station.
Lowestoft, Lake Lothing (TM552926), crossed by the A12 in Lowestoft.
Oulton Broad (TM520927), off the A1117 beside Mutford Lock & Lift Bridge. Oulton Broad is a resort in its own right with pubs, restaurants and other attractions.
St. Olaves, Haddiscoe New Cut (TM456988), reached via the old main road which used to cross the cut on a swing bridge. This road is now a dead end with plenty of parking room at the waters edge. Also at St. Olaves is the River Waveney which has a footpath along its eastern bank.
Reedham (TG419016), Riverside (road) runs along the northern bank. There are two pubs, a gift shop and parking places on the waterfront.
Reedham Chain Ferry (TG407014), situated on the B1140, the Broads’ last surviving vehicle ferry. There is a pub with outside tables on the north bank.
Loddon Basin (TM362990), on the River Chet in the centre of Lodden. There is a car park beside the marina on Bridge Street.
Cantley (TG382034), on the north bank, beside the huge Cantley sugar factory reached via the minor roads to the west of the B1140 (Acle to Reedham road).
Langley Dyke (TG363026), on the south bank, there is a road junction (Langley Green and Staithe Road) near the head of the dyke and The Wherry pub is close to the road junction.
Beauchamp Arms (TG350044), on the south bank, reached on Ferry Road to the north east of Claxton.
Rockland Staithe (TG328045), on the south bank, situated beside the New Inn on Low Road which heads east out of Rockland St. Mary. There is a public car park (almost hidden) just west of the pub on the north side of the road.
Brundall, (TG329079), on the north bank, there is a car park near the head of Hobros’ Dyke alongside Brundall Yacht Club, a pub and Brundall Railway Station, these are reached via Station Road which heads south from the centre of Brundall.
Coldham Hall Inn (TG324071), on the south bank, reached on a lane called Coldham Hall Carnser to the north east of Surlingham.
Surlingham Ferry and Surlingham Church Marsh Nature Reserve (TG308075), on the south bank, reached via Ferry Road, heading north west out of Surlingham.
Postwick Wharf (TG307075), on the north bank, reached via Ferry Lane, heading south east out of Postwick..
Kirby Bedon (TG292061), on the south bank, reached via a minor road north off the A146 south east of Norwich.
Whitlingham Country Park (TG268078), on the south bank, Whitlingham Lane, north off the A47 about a mile south of Postwick Viaduct Bridge.
Thorpe St. Andrew (TG259083), on the north bank, there are parking places on the A1242 (Yarmouth Road) which runs along the northern bank of the Old Thorpe River.
Carrow Road Lift Bridge (TG238077), on the A147 in Norwich. The bridge is very busy and parking nearby can be difficult due to the close proximity of Norwich City football ground. Most parking is for permit holders only.
Norwich Riverside (TG390892), the River Wensum runs parallel to the A147 (Riverside) close to the centre of Norwich. There are a few parking places on this road with other car parks close by.