Topic: Picnic boat, PH Bridge, Mud Weights,& Other Advice

Monty2018    -- Apr-15-2018 @ 2:38 PM
  Hello all,
I've stumbled across your forum whilst researching a trip to the Broads for my significant birthday in late May. Any help that you could give me would be very much appreciated, as I have practically no boating experience. Any knowledge that I have picked up is from searching the internet over the last few weeks, so please accept my apologies if I am talking rubbish at any point!

The original plan was to hire a boat for a week, but due to my other half's worries about midges (which I can vouch for the fact that they are exceptionally attracted to her whilst keeping well clear of me) this has now been boiled down to a holiday cottage for a week by the sea and a picnic boat (it must have a loo) for the birthday, hired from Wroxham or Potter Heigham or thereabouts.

I am hoping that my wife will be so enamoured with our day visit that we will return for a full week later, so am hoping to try and get the best taster day that I can. With that in mind can anyone offer any helpful advice re the following.

1. Do picnic boats (as opposed to day boats) all fit under Potter Heigham Bridge, at any time of the day, and if so do you need a pilot?
2. Do picnic boats have a mud weight, as I would quite like to potter around and then rest up in the middle of a broad for a bite to eat rather than at a mooring.
3. To get the best out of the day, and as we both like peace and quiet, I fancy the idea of sticking to say the area above Potter Heigham Bridge, or would we better going for a longer trip from Wroxham e.g. Salhouse and Ranworth Broad and anywhere else we can get to. I guess I am trying to weigh up whether that area will be too busy for us or will it give us more variety?
4. The icing on the cake for my birthday, would be to see a kingfisher - any ideas where the best chance would be?
5. Are midges a problem, either during the day or if we were to return for a full week? We have a campervan and tend to avoid any campsites near water, so maybe I am being too ambitious to consider a week actually on the water?

Sorry if this is a bit long winded, but any help would be gratefully appreciated, before I take the plunge and book a boat.

Jillywix    -- Apr-15-2018 @ 3:21 PM
  Hi Monty - firstly I may get corrected here, but I have never encountered a midge on the Norfolk Broads.  I've been harassed by them in Scotland but never on the Broads.  Plenty of mosquitoes here though.

If you want to experience the waterways above Potter Heigham, then I recommend hiring a picnic boat from Whispering Reeds at Hickling which is above the bridge. They have the lovely Bittern - a great picnic boat with mudweight.

As for Kingfishers, they are there above Potter Heigham but more spaced out.  I regularly see them on Meadow Dyke and Waxham Cut.    Below the bridge I've seen plenty on the River Ant, but to see them you need to be there when it is not busy, which makes it tricky but not impossible.  Otherwise keep an ear out for a high pitched shriek and then look for a blur of blue! Hope that helps.

Matt40    -- Apr-15-2018 @ 5:13 PM
  I can tell you pretty much exactly how and when to see Kingfisher's in Potter

Monty2018    -- Apr-15-2018 @ 5:58 PM
  Hi Jillywix,
Thanks for that, I hadn't thought of Mosquitos - all biting insects seem to love my wife, but I guess we should be OK during the day.

The bittern was already on my list to consider, thanks for the information on the mud weight, also the kingfishers. Does it seem a good idea to restrict ourselves to the area above PH for the day or should we try to see a bit more. I don't particularly want to spend all my time driving around, but at the same time would like to get a taste for what a week would have to offer.

Exile    -- Apr-15-2018 @ 9:43 PM
  Keeping north of Potter would not give a full experience of a week on the Broads. However... It is certainly one of the best bits of Broadland (in my personal opinion, the best bit) and will give a good impression of the area. Particularly as you both like peace and quiet.
The two pubs at Hickling and one at Horsey are worth a lunch break.
If you are going to spend the whole day on the boat you will be able to comfortably go down from Potter to Thurne and possibly South Walsham as well. Any further and it will all seem a bit rushed. If you want to spend some time off the boat avoid that last bit and stretch your legs on one of the numerous local footpaths. I would normally suggest the walk from Horsey Mere to the seal colony on Horsey beach (via the local pub if required). But that may take a bit too much of your hire time if you only have the boat for a day.

On the whole I find that mossies and midges are a problem near water rather than on it. They seem to be a pain for most on the waters edge but not once they get on a moving boat.
Get your wife some of the Avon cream that most (including my wife) swear by as an insect repellent. Off hand I cannot remember the exact product name but someone on here is bound to know. It works brilliantly and unlike normal repellents does not smell rank.

Finally, if boating fails to impress your wife you seem to have won anyway. The Norfolk coast is a great holiday destination too! Particularly IMO the long stretch from Old Hunst'on to Overstrand.

Edit to add. Whispering Reeds would be my choice for a day boat too.

This message was edited by Exile on Apr-15-18 @ 10:45 PM

Sheque1    -- Apr-16-2018 @ 7:32 AM

Urbanbushman1    -- Apr-16-2018 @ 7:33 AM
  Hello Monty. I have to agree with Exile. Hire whispering reed and explore the tranquility which north of potter has to offer. Some beautiful locations in which to unwind and enjoy the total peace and quiet. Then perhaps a lazy short cruise down to south Waltham to enjoy your lunch with a bottle of chilled wine ( the wife will be impressed ) whilst out in the middle of the broad. You will both be hooked !
Regards kevin

Urbanbushman1    -- Apr-16-2018 @ 7:36 AM
  Ps. The cream you want to keep the insects away is called Avon skin so soft. We had an eight day walking holiday in the Scottish highlands last year and this spray really did work. It's not greasy or smelly either !

Jillywix    -- Apr-16-2018 @ 9:09 AM
  Monty, in response to your question, I would not necessarily restrict myself to just above Potter - but, if you are only hiring the boat for one day then there is plenty of water to explore above the bridge allowing for lunch etc.  Depends whether you want quiet, wild beauty or the hubbub of busy cruising and popular spots.  If you want to hire a boat for the entire time and not a holiday cottage then I would go below the bridge.   There is a chance your picnic boat would fit under the bridge dependent on tides, but if not then hiring above the bridge gives you the access your original post mentioned.

insert    -- Apr-16-2018 @ 9:44 AM
  Just to add that Martham Ferry (under new ownership) also have day boats above Potter bridge

They have Siesta 20 (not listed on the website for some reason) which has a loo I think but is smaller than some so better if you also want to go through the bridge.

Should also mention Martham Boats, but if you want a toilet then Jayne is their only suitable one I think and she's normally hired for more than a day (although I think they may hire her for a day if she's not out).

Monty2018    -- Apr-16-2018 @ 11:40 AM
  What great responses, thank you all very much, Exile, Sheque1,Kevin, JillyWix, Fens Fatale etc...

Avon skin so soft - yes my wife uses this and agrees it is the best she's tried, but the blighters  still seem to get her... I like the idea of them not bothering you when you are on the water, rather than near it - sounds like mud weighting may be the answer.

An ideal day out to me sounds like that suggested by Exile and Kevin - start off above Potter Heigham and travel down to South Waltham and back, if possible. So with that in mind I will contact the boatyards you have mentioned and see what their advice is re Bridge clearance on the picnic boats. if it is not possible, then we will go for the peace and quiet - I am now considering an electric boat rather than diesel, so as not to disturb the wildlife.

I have a photograph taken by my mother in about 1963 of my father going under the bridge with inches to spare, she took the photo from the back of the boat and just remembered to duck in time, so it would be nice to do the same, I have no real memory of the holiday as I was only about 5 or 6, but there is a photo of me steering the boat, so I guess I'm not a total novice.

Marshman    -- Apr-16-2018 @ 9:45 PM
  I am not sure that any of the picnic boats are electric - certainly the bigger ones are usually diesel.

Neither do I think you will get any closer to the wildlife with an electric dayboat - virtually all the wildlife would be frightened by movement and not noise.

Monty2018    -- Apr-16-2018 @ 10:43 PM
  I saw some electric ones on Martham Ferry Boatyard, however when I've just checked the site I see one is not available until July.

I take your point about movement rather than noise frightening the wildlife, but it looks like it will be diesel anyway.

boatgirl    -- Apr-17-2018 @ 6:02 AM
  a old auntie used to stop any midges by useing oil of citronella lemmon oli put a few spots of it on the places where you grt bitten and trhey eont come near thry hate thr smell apparantly and will think you are a lemmon

amberman    -- Apr-29-2018 @ 9:53 PM
  I have sympathy with your wife, Monty I too have been a bit tasty to the odd midge!
One holiday in particular in Tunisia I think I was a 'live' buffet to most of the mosquitos in Old Sousse
However, I've been holidaying on the broads for the last 10 years and I can't remember being bitten!
I hope you enjoy your day, only been through Potter bridge once and that was leaving the hire boat at Herbert Woods and getting a day boat through to Hickling Broad!
If you want to stop for lunch then I can recommend The Pleasure Boat
This year we are thinking of leaving the boat at Sutton / Stalham and walking to The Pleasure Boat and getting a cab back
Hopefully you'll get the 'bug' OK, pun intended, and keep coming back like we did


billmaxted    -- Apr-30-2018 @ 6:53 AM
  In the main Mosies and Midges are not a problem on the running waters of The Broads certainly the parts with a higher saline content.  The problem is more of an issue if moored in a secluded spot close to a body of standing or near stillwater.  This used to be the case on some of the reaches just above Horning.  Unfortunately these are of course the very places where wildlife is most likely to be at it’s best.  Not to put anyone off but there are various things on the broads that do bite especially where cattle can come down to the water’s edge to drink.  One of the ‘bite relief sticks’ is therefore a wise precaution even if you have an effective deterrent.

Bill...(The Ancient Mardler)

Monty2018    -- Apr-30-2018 @ 10:45 PM
  Thanks again to everyone for your helpful comments, I have found your replies and the archives on the forum incredibly useful in my planning.

I have decided to go against my original thoughts of visiting the quieter areas  in order to experience a more typical day on the  Broads ( at least that's what I think in my ignorance!).

I have therefore hired a "Skipper" from Ferry Marina, and plan to visit Barton Broad and South Walsham Broad.

I will save Hickling and Horsey for a future visit ( always providing that the wife stays bite free this time).

billmaxted    -- May-1-2018 @ 8:36 AM
  As nobody else have mentioned them and if you have more than one day available, you might try Sutton Staithe I think they do have electric boats. This would let you explore not just Sutton Broad and Stalham but Barton broad, Neatishead, Wayford bridge & Dilham where certainly Kingfishers are not uncommon.

Bill...(The Ancient Mardler)

Monty2018    -- Jun-2-2018 @ 10:30 AM
  Just an update to again thank you all for your posts and personal emails.

We had a great day with everything going perfectly to plan on our route from Horning to Barton and then on to South Walsham. We hired Skipper 3 from Ferry Marina and it was perfect for our needs.

I would highly recommend it for anyone new to the broads who may read this.

And to top it all we saw one kingfisher, two otters and no mozzies or midges.

In respect of the recent post re dayboats - no alcohol was consumed and no boats were rammed, although mooring up rear end at the end of the trip was a bit hairy!!

Many thanks again for all your help. The forum is a great resource for newcomers to the broads, better than any travel book, so I will donate accordingly, and encourage others to do the same.

Until the next time.....

boatgirl    -- Jun-3-2018 @ 5:30 AM
hopr you and your wife are now broads lovers and will come again

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