At Whispering Reeds we have a number of Canadian Canoes which can be hired for a quiet explore of the area. They are really easy to handle, and you are given a full briefing before we let you go out onto the water. Bouyancy aids and dry bags are provided too.
The canoes are an idea way to get right into the edges of the shallow broad, and explore all the little inlets and islands in the area which bigger boats simply can’t manage.
These are just a couple of suggested trips..
Three hour paddle
We often suggest people venture up Catfield Dyke as part of a 3 hour paddle. After getting the hang of steering the boat and feeling comfortable on board whilst in the confines of the yard, venture out onto the Broad and follow the right hand bank as you make your way down, well away from any boat traffic. You can explore the inlets and dykes that you pass as you head towards Catfield Dyke, and then cut the corner that the bigger boats have to go around, before heading up the long straight dyke to Catfield Staithe.
This is a mile or so long and never more than about 20feet wide, so the reeds and trees are close by. You’ll be amazed by the peace, quiet and huge abundance of wildlife on this sheltered stretch of river. The beauty of the canoe is that the wildlife doesn’t hear you coming, so you can have some magical close encounters with all sorts.
Depending on your speed, you may find when returning from the end of the dyke that you have a bit of time left to explore some more of Hickling Broad, otherwise head back to the yard before taking a short walk around to the Pleasure Boat Inn for a cold drink and a chat about what you’ve seen.
Six hour paddle
In a six hour paddle you can reach the Staithe at Horsey for an ice cream and a trip up the windpump for an outstanding view over The Broads. This is a longer trip and probably not for people trying canoeing for the first time, but if you’ve paddled before it’s well worth the effort. You’ll start by heading across Hickling Broad.
If you’re feeling confident then you can go straight over the middle, otherwise there is always the option of hugging the bank as you go around, before you know it you’ll be into the river and heading down past Whiteslea Lodge, owned by the Cadbury family, and towards Meadow Dyke, the turning for Horsey Mere. Once you reach this turn you’ll head down a winding reed fringed dyke, every now and again catching a glimpse of the windpump which marks your destination across the Mere.
A few years ago Marsh Harriers were a rare sight in the UK, now the Hickling and Horsey area has a population so large that you’ll be hard pressed to miss these amazing birds of prey soaring around and quartering the reeds looking for their prey. Meadow Dyke will pop you out onto Horsey Mere, and you just follow the right hand edge of this patch of open water until you head up to the Staithe.
You’ll find toilets, a national trust tea shop which sells excellent tea cakes, and of course the windpump which you can climb up to see the sea to one side, and across the broads on the other. Once you’ve had a rest and enjoyed your tea cake or ice cream, just head back the way you came and use any spare time you have left to explore Hickling Broad itself.
We only have a limited number of canoes, so it is definitely worth booking ahead as soon as you know that you want to come. Whispering Reeds is part of the Broads Canoe Hire Association and as such we undergo training annually, and we are supported by the Broads Authorities Sustainable Development Fund.