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Title: The Handbook to the Rivers and Broads of Norfolk & Suffolk

Author: G. Christopher Davies

Release date: April 25, 2011 [eBook #35954]

Language: English


This ebook was transcribed by Les Bowler.

Wroxham Broad

Jarrolds’ “Holiday” Series.


to the

Author ofNorfolk Broads and Rivers,” “The Swan and her Crew,” etc., etc.




eighteenth edition.



branches: 182, king street, great yarmouth;
the library, cromer.

(All rights reserved.)









The broad District.



Down the Yare—Norwich to Reedham.



Reedham to Yarmouth.



Yarmouth to Acle.



Acle to Wroxham.



Wroxham Broad.



Wroxham to Coltishall.



Up the Ant, to Barton and Stalham.



Womack Broad.



Hickling Broad.



Horsey Mere and Somerton Broad.



Back to Yarmouth.



Yarmouth to Somerleyton, up the Waveney.



From Somerleyton to Beccles.



Oulton Broad.



Ormesby and Fritton.


p. viiiAPPENDIX.

Railway Access to Fishing Stations


Norfolk and Suffolk Fisheries Act


Tables of River Distances




Fishing Generally








Shooting and Skating


Fauna of the Broads





Wroxham Broad


A Pool in Surlingham Broad


Pull’s Ferry


Bishop’s Bridge


Boom Tower


Thorpe Gardens


A Norfolk Wherry


On the Yare, at Bramerton


On Rockland Broad


Langley Dyke


St. Nicholas Church, Great Yarmouth


The Quay, Great Yarmouth


A “Row,” Great Yarmouth


St. Benet’s Abbey


Cottage, South Walsham Broad


Horning Village


Ranworth Church


Horning Ferry


Belaugh Church


Dyke Near Coltishall


Ludham Bridge


p. xRiver Bure at Hautbois


A Woodland Pool—Irstead


Entrance—Barton Broad


Carrying Reeds—Barton


Barton Staithe


Ormesby Broad—Landing Stage


Drainage Mill—River Thurne


River Thurne


Hickling Broad


Dyke at Potter Heigham


Hickling Staithe


Martham Broad


Sound Asleep


Somerleyton Hall


River Waveney


Oulton Broad


Fritton Decoy


Ormesby Broad—Landing Stage



Since the first appearance of this Handbook, and the larger volume on the same subject, which the preface to the first edition stated to be in contemplation, the Broad District has become highly popular.  Each year the tourist stream increases, but, happily, there is still plenty of room.  No doubt some of the old habitués, who liked to have the whole landscape to themselves, grumble at the change, but the less selfish persons, who happily constitute the majority, do not object to seeing a dozen yachts where formerly they saw but one, or a score of anglers where in past years but half-a-dozen might be seen.

A large trade has arisen in the letting of yachts, boats, and pleasure wherries for cruising purposes; but the inn accommodation has made little advance, and is still too meagre, and insufficient for the demand.  The yachts have made great strides in speed and in number.  The Norfolk and Suffolk Yacht Club has flourished exceedingly, and its regattas are popular.

Artists have found out the charm of the quiet scenery p. xiiof the Broads, and visit us in great numbers.  Notably Mr. E. H. Fahey and Miss Osborn have given exhibitions in London devoted to the district.  Then littérateurs without number have written magazine and newspaper articles, and others, after a few days’ scamper, have written exhaustive guide-books; and so the ball, which the present writer set rolling in earnest some years ago, is helped merrily forward, and the Rivers and Broads of Norfolk and Suffolk are fast becoming one of the most popular of English playgrounds.

I should like to put the brake on a little in one respect.  One guide-book writer appears to treat the riverside meadows as commons, and suggests that yachtsmen should bring lawn-tennis sets and cricket materials with them.  Pray don’t take such absurd advice.  All riparian owners adhere stoutly to their just rights.  It must be remembered that the rights of the public are limited to passage along the navigable rivers and the navigable broads, and the use of the banks of navigable waters for mooring purposes and for towing.  The soil of the greater part of the river-beds is vested in the Crown, therefore angling is free to the public.  Strictly speaking, the shooting over the Crown rivers is free, but this does not give persons a right to shoot an inch over the banks.  Looking to the fact that the Bure is very narrow, and passes through private game preserves, let me earnestly entreat visitors not to fire off guns either at birds or at bottles (which last amusement appears to p. xiiibe a favourite one) above Acle bridge.  The sport to the visitors is nil, while the annoyance to the riparian owners is extreme.  The riparian owners are generally willing to afford the well-behaved public all reasonable facilities for enjoyment.  Let this be repaid by the public refraining from potting away at waterhens and pigeons, or other birds on the banks.

It may be well to add that, up to about the year 1830, the Broads and wet marshes were simply waste; but by the Enclosure Acts and Awards, these watery commons were allotted and divided among the neighbouring landowners.  In some cases the rights of navigation and staithes were expressly reserved.  In others no reservation was made, and the Broads are absolutely in the hands of private owners.  In other cases again, staithes and rights of way have grown into disuse, and channels have become choked up by mud and vegetation.  In no case, however, has the right of the Crown to the bed of the common river been affected or changed by the Enclosure Awards.

A great point to remember is, that the possessors of the Broads set as much store by their bulrushes and water lilies as the admiring visitor; therefore, do not gather any off the Broads.  All flowers and grasses which grow in such luxuriance by the riverside, within the river wall, or the three yards from the river margin where the navigator has an indefeasible right, may as well be gathered for pleasure as die and rot.  Here p. xivthere is abundance for everyone; but to penetrate into quiet nooks of Broads and help oneself to other people’s valued property, is an indefensible act, which by oft repetition has much irritated owners against the public.  It is in this respect also that visitors from a distance are most prone to err, because, without reflection, it appears that no harm is done.  Nor would there be much harm in a single instance, but “many a little makes a mickle.”

As a general rule, visitors from a distance behave exceedingly well, being educated persons with a due sense of law and order.  The bottle shooters, coot potters, and noisy revellers, the swan’s egg robbers and grebe destroyers, the persons who use one’s boat-houses as luncheon rooms or dust bins are, unfortunately, home products.  Of course, I hear of all offences that are committed, and by some people I am actually saddled with the responsibility of any breach of good manners on the part of the public, because I am supposed to have brought the latter to the Broads.  I therefore beg the large unknown public (of whose friendliness to me as an author I have had so many proofs), when they visit the Broads, not to allow the exhilaration of an enjoyable holiday to interfere with a due propriety of behaviour.

The hitherto unwritten rules of the Rivers and Broads are these:—

Do not, in the neighbourhood of other yachts or houses, indulge in songs and revelry after eleven p.m., even at regatta times.

p. xvBathe only before eight o’clock in the morning, if in sight of other vessels or moored in a frequented part of the river.  Ladies are not expected to turn out before eight, but after that time they are entitled to be free from any annoyance.  Young men who lounge in a nude state on boats while ladies are passing (and I have known Norwich youths to do this) may be saluted with dust shot, or the end of a quant.

Adhere strictly to the rule of the road when boating, according to the instructions contained in a subsequent chapter, and when angling, moor out of the way of sailing craft, as afterwards explained.

Do not throw straw or paper overboard to float to leeward and become offensive; but burn, or take care to sink all rubbish.

Do not light fires, place stoves, or throw refuse on the banks in the path of others, whose yachts may be moored to the same bank.

Steam launches must not run at full speed past yachts moored to the bank, particularly when the occupants of the latter have things spread out for a meal.

Don’t take guns on board unless you have leave to shoot on somebody’s land.

Remember that sound travels a long way on the water, and do not criticise the people you may encounter with too loud a voice.

Don’t go on a friend’s yacht with nailed shoes (the commodore of a Thames sailing club once came on p. xviboard mine in cricket shoes armed with spikes).  Don’t knock the ashes out of your pipe into his boat, and don’t catch small fish and litter his decks with them, leaving them for him to clean up after you.

A pool in Burlingham Broad

Don’t moor outside another yacht without the permission of its owner.

Ladies, please don’t gather armfuls of flowers, berries, and grasses which, when faded, you leave in the boat or yacht for the unfortunate skipper to clear up.  Don’t play the piano in season and out of season (the reedbird’s song is sweeter on the Broads); and don’t turn out before eight o’clock in the morning when other yachts are near.

Observing all these simple maxims, any number of visitors will find plenty of room for their own enjoyment, without offence to anyone.

p. 17 View of Sailing boats and Yachts

the “broad” district.

Decorative drop capital It is somewhat difficult to analyse the charm which the “Broad” District of Norfolk and Suffolk has for those who have once made its acquaintance in the only way in which an intimate knowledge of it can be gained.

In a journey through it by rail, you see nothing but its flatness; walk along its roads, you see the dullest side of it; but take to its water-highways, and the glamour of it steals over you, if you have aught of the love of nature, the angler, or the artist in you.

p. 18One reason may be that the rivers are highways.  From them you view things as from a different standpoint; along them flows a current of life differing from that on either rail or road: the wind is your servant, sometimes your master; there is an uncertainty in the issue of the day’s proceedings, which to an idle holidaymaker is most delightful, and the slowly-moving water is more like a living companion than any other inanimate thing can be.  Houses are few and far between.  Oftentimes within the circle of your sight there is neither house nor man visible.  A grey church tower, a windmill, or the dark-brown sail of a wherry in the distance breaks the sense of utter loneliness, but the scene is wild enough to enchain the imagination of many.  Long miles of sinuous gleaming river, marshes gay with innumerable flowering plants, wide sheets of water bordered with swaying reeds, yachts or wherries, boats, fish, fowl, and rare birds and plants, and exquisite little bits to paint and sketch—these are the elements out of which a pleasant holiday may be made.

I wrote these lines whilst at anchor on Salhouse Little Broad.  The evening was most still and placid, and the boat lay motionless among the lily leaves which covered the water around.  The white lilies had so closed their petals that but the faintest morsels of white peeped out; but the yellow, which were most numerous, did not close so completely, and the dark interspaces of water were thickly starred with the golden globes.  Beyond p. 19the lily leaves was a belt of tall reeds, swayed only by the birds which have their home among them.  The yellow iris flowers made the narrow neck of marsh ablaze with colour.  Bounding the view was a cordon of trees; on the one side a wooded bank; on the other, but out of sight, the river.  A rustic boathouse nestled amid the trees, white swans lighted up the dark shades, moorhens led their broods across the pool; the western clouds were edged with sunset glories, and the reflections in the water were as perfect as the things they copy.  But though there was absolute calm, the lily leaves were not still, but moved tremulously, and sent ripples on either side.  Looking closely, you saw that the leaves were covered with small insects, and the small roach were busily plucking them off the under side.  You could hear the little snap or suck the fishes made, and once you caught the sound you found the air was full of these snaps, and a most weird effect the sound gave.  The roach crowded eagerly round to eat the crumbs that I threw them.  So fearless were they, that when I put my hand into the water and held it quite still for a while, they came and snapped at my fingers, and funny little tickling scrapes they gave.  I actually succeeded in grasping one or two of the boldest.  A piece of paper, which had been crumpled up and thrown on the water, was being urged to and fro by the hungry little fish, who tried to find it eatable, and tugged at it bravely.

The clouds darkened.  I went into my cabin as a p. 20squall of wind and rain came on.  The thunder grew louder and louder, and there, alone, with the tempest raging, I could yet write that the end of the evening was as pleasant as the beginning, so great to me is the charm of the water.

I slung my hammock, hoping that on the following day the sun would shine, the wind would blow, and the hours would pass as quickly as the boat sailed, and slept as sound as man may.

It has happened that I have written a good deal about these waters—too much, some people say.  One result has been that I have been pretty well overpowered with correspondence arising from persons making enquiries about the district, with a view to visiting it; therefore, when the publishers requested me to write a kind of handbook or guide to the Broads and Rivers, I thought it a good idea, in that enquirers might, by buying such a book, save themselves the trouble of writing to me, and getting necessarily short and inadequate replies.  I am afraid, however, the guide-book style is rather beyond me, and I shall be most at home if I try to convey the requisite information by describing one of the numerous cruises in which I have sailed as guide to those friends who have trusted their holidays to my care, and I will select one lasting but a fortnight, during which time we covered most of the available ground.

Before doing so, a few words, descriptive of the situation of these rivers and lakes, will not be amiss.

p. 21From Yarmouth, looking inland, three main water-highways radiate.  The chief is the Yare, flowing from the westward; then comes the Bure, flowing from the north-westward, and having her large tributaries, the Ant and the Thurne, flowing from the northward.  From the south-west come the clear waters of the Waveney.  All these rivers are navigable for considerable distances, and on the Bure and its tributaries the greater number of the Broads are situate.  These Broads are large shallow lakes, connected with the rivers, and are many of them navigable.  Flat marshes follow the lines of the rivers, and while higher and well-wooded ground rises near the upper portions of the rivers, near the sea the country is perfectly flat, and vessels sailing on all three rivers are visible at the same time.

The level of the marsh is frequently below that of the rivers, and at the outlet of each main drain is a drainage pump, or turbine wheel, sometimes worked by a windmill, and sometimes by steam, which pumps the water out of the drains into the rivers.

The fall of the river is about four inches to the mile.  The ebb and flow of the tide are felt for thirty miles inland, but its rise and fall are very little indeed.  There are no impediments to navigation of any consequence, so it may be imagined what a “happy hunting ground” this is to the boat-sailor, the naturalist, and the angler.

Decorative chapter end divider

p. 22 Decorative chapter header divider

down the yare.  norwich to reedham.

Decorative drop capital “Do you mean to say,” said Wynne, “that these Broads are worth my giving up a few days to seeing them?”

“If you will give up a fortnight, I promise you that you will find it too short.  You went to the Friesland Meres years ago, and enjoyed it.  You will like these quite as well.”

Pull’s Ferry

So he promised to come for a fortnight, rather reluctantly, and when, on his arrival in Norwich, he took a preliminary canter by rail to Yarmouth, he refused to say anything about what he thought of the country, which looked ominous.  We had hired a ten-ton cutter, and she was lying at Thorpe, a mile and a half below the city.  The man we had engaged rowed the jolly-boat up for us, and as Wynne was enthusiastic about old buildings, we rowed him up the river to the New Mills, a very old mill, which spans the river Wensum near its p. 25entrance into the city.  From thence we came back along the narrow sinuous river, overhung with buildings, many of them ancient and picturesque, under numerous bridges, wharves where wherries were loading or unloading, using the half-lowered mast as cranes, past the Boom Tower, still keeping watch and ward over the river; quaint Bishops’ Bridge; Pull’s Ferry, where there is a ruined water gate, often sketched and photographed; past the railway station, into the reach parallel with King Street, where gables, and archways, and courts delight the painter.  Here, on the left bank, is another Boom Tower, built of flint, the universal building-stone of Norfolk, faced by another tower on the opposite bank, whence runs a fine piece of the old city wall up the hill p. 26to another and larger tower, in better preservation, on the summit.  Then we next passed the very extensive works of Messrs. J. and J. Colman, and below them innumerable stacks of choice wood, out of which the boxes to contain the mustard, etc., are made.

Bishop’s Bridge

Boom Tower

“You speak of this as the Wensum,” said Wynne; “I thought it was the Yare.”

“This river is the Wensum, but this smaller stream coming in on the right is the true Yare, and from this point the united river takes the name of the Yare.  This spot is called Trowse Hythe, and half a mile up it, where there is a mill, was once a famous spot for smelts, where they were caught by large casting nets, used at p. 29night by torch-light, but the town sewage has effectually spoiled the smelting.  The pool below the New Mills was also a place where the smelts were caught in large numbers, but it is not so good now.”

Thorpe Gardens

Presently we came to Thorpe, where a bend of the river has been cut off by two railway bridges, and a straight new cut made for the navigation.  We took the old river, and Wynne was charmed with the view which then unfolded itself.  The long curve of the river was lined on the outer bank by picturesque houses, with gardens leading to the water’s edge, while behind them rose a well-wooded bank.  In the autumn of 1879 this reach was found to be swarming with pike, and it speedily swarmed with anglers, who had generally good sport until, apparently, all the pike were caught.  At intervals since, there have been similar immigrations of pike to this reach when tides unusually high or salt drive the fish up from the lower reaches.  At the lower end of the reach is a favourite resort on summer evenings, a waterside inn, known as Thorpe Gardens, where we pulled up.  Here there are also boat-letting stations, where cruising yachts can be hired.

Just through the bridge, [29] we joined the main river again, and noticed several yachts moored against the bank, amongst which was ours.

p. 30Wynne stepped on board, curious to inspect a Norfolk yacht, and he freely commented on her enormous counter, short keel, great open well, and tall pole-mast.  In a short time we stowed all our belongings, and set sail—mainsail, jib, and topsail—the spread of canvas rather startling Wynne, who had only been used to sea yachts.  There was a light north-westerly wind, and we glided swiftly away before it.  But ere we had sailed a couple of hundred yards, Wynne insisted on our stopping to sketch the White House, at Whitlingham, which, with the trees on the hill, the wood-shaded reach of river, and the huge brown sails of the wherries, formed a picture we might well wish to carry away.  Wynne often stopped in this way, to the intense disgust of our man, who liked to make his passages quickly, and had no sympathy with artistic amusements.

The dyke leading out of the river by the White House is a regular harbour for pike, which is continually restocked from the river.  It is private property, but just at the mouth of the dyke, in the navigable river, is a good spot.  At least three hundred pike were taken here last winter by Norwich artisans.

“What graceful craft these wherries, as you call them, are!” remarked Wynne, as he rapidly sketched the high-peaked sail of one which was slowly beating to windward or “turning,” as the vernacular hath it, up the narrow river.

A Norfolk Wherry And he was quite right.  There is not a line p. 31that is not graceful about a Norfolk wherry.  She has a long low hull with a rising sheer to stem and stern, which are both pointed.  She has a tall and massive mast supporting a single large sail which is without a boom, but has a very long gaff launching out boldly at an angle of forty-five degrees.  The curve of the brown or black sail from the lofty peak to the sheet is on all points of sailing a curve of beauty.  The wherries are trading crafts carrying from twenty to fifty tons of cargo.  They are manned generally by one man, who sometimes has the aid of his wife or children.  They are nearly as fast as yachts, sail closer to the wind, and are wonderfully handy.  The mast is weighted at the keel with one or two tons of lead, and is so well balanced that a lad can lower or raise it with the greatest ease, when it is necessary to pass under a bridge.  Wherries are the most conspicuous objects in a Norfolk broad landscape, and are in sight for miles, as they follow the winding courses of the rivers, often nothing but the sail visible above the green marsh.

Very many of these wherries have been converted into sailing house boats or pleasure barges, and so constitute most admirable floating homes for those who like cruising with greater comfort than small yachts can give.

It was an hour before we got under way again, and when, after sailing down the long straight reach by Whitlingham, we came in sight of the eminence known as Postwick Grove, Wynne wished to land in order that p. 32he might see the view from the top.  The man burst into open grumbling, so we asked him if the trip were undertaken for his pleasure or ours, and on his reluctantly admitting that it was for ours, we told him it was our pleasure to do as we liked, and he resigned himself to his fate.  The watermen on these rivers are very civil, but they look with disfavour upon anything which interferes with actual sailing.

Well, the view from Postwick was worth seeing.  The curving reaches of the river, animated with yachts, wherries, and boats, lay beneath us, and the green marshes were bounded by the woods of Thorpe, Whitlingham, and Bramerton, while the ruined church of Whitlingham stood boldly on the brow of the opposite hill.

Under way again, we presently reached Bramerton, where the “Wood’s End” public-house offers good cheer to the wherryman and boating-man.

The pleasure-steamers which run between Norwich and Yarmouth afford a quick but less pleasant way of seeing the river, and stop at Bramerton nearly every day in the week.

Now the higher ground falls away from the river on each side of us, and the belt of marshes widens, the river is higher than the surface of the land, and the water is lifted out of the many drains and dykes by means of turbine wheels, worked by the windmills which form such conspicuous objects in the landscape, and by more pretentious steam drainage mills.

p. 33 On the Yare, at Bramerton

p. 35Surlingham Ferry, 6 miles by river from Norwich, next came into view.  The house, with its picturesque gables, lies in the shadow of a group of fine trees.  A horse and cart was being ferried across on the huge raft as we approached, and the chain was only just dropped in time for us to pass.

There is a good inn at the Ferry, with limited but comfortable staying accommodation; and excellent roach fishing is often obtainable.  The shore above the Ferry on the same side is suitable for mooring yachts to, as there is a fair depth of water close to the bank.

“What numbers of boats there are with people fishing?” said Wynne.  “Do they all catch anything?”

“Oh, yes, any quantity, as far as number goes, of roach, and bream, and some good fish too, but the larger fish are caught in the deeper water, lower down.”

Coldham Hall is the next fishing station of importance.  There is a good inn there, and plenty of boats for hire at a cheap rate.  Fishing and other boats can also be obtained at Messrs. H. Flowers and Co.’s new boating station, where yachts can be moored and laid up.  As the railway station (Brundall) is close to it, it is very convenient for anglers.  The mooring places at Brundall and Coldham Hall are not many, as the banks are very shoal.  In the reach between Brundall and Coldham Hall only the middle third of the river is navigable for yachts; and the same may be said of the long reach below Coldham Hall.  We could see p. 36half-a-dozen fishing boats under the lee of the point above the station.  It seems a favourite place, for I never passed it without seeing fishermen there.  But as the man had to sail the yacht round the great curve of the river, we took a short cut across Surlingham Broad in the jolly.

This Broad lies within a horse-shoe bend of the river, and has a navigable channel across it.  It is not deep enough, however, for yachts or laden wherries.  The Broad is largely affected by the tide, which sometimes leaves its shallows exposed.  The river, as I should have said, is tidal up to Norwich, and the force of the tide increases with every deepening of Yarmouth Haven.  We rowed up the dyke which leads on to the Broad, a small sheet of water, overgrown with weeds and very shallow, but a capital nursery for fish and fowl.  The fishing upon it is preserved.  Rowing across it, we entered another dyke, and emerged into the river again, and caught up the yacht.

On Rockland Broad

Snipe abound on the marshes here, and their drumming can always be heard in the early summer.  The flat, far-reaching marshes glowed with a thousand tints of flower and grass, and the iris gleamed brightly in the lush margins of the river.  We sailed quietly on, down the curving reaches of the widening river, watching the slow-seeming flight of the heron, the splash of fish, the bending reeds, and the occasional boat-loads of anglers, until we came to the mouth of a dyke, about a mile long, up which we again rowed in the jolly, to explore p. 37Rockland Broad, where the open water is much more extensive than at Surlingham.  Here there are several eel-fishers’ floating abodes, Noah’s-ark-like structures, with nets and “liggers” dangling about them.  The fishing and shooting on the Broad are, at present, open to all.

This Broad is also much affected by the tide, as, notwithstanding its distance from the river, there are numerous connecting dykes permitting easy flow and re-flow of water.

Back in the yacht again, we reached Buckenham Ferry (ten and a half miles), a favourite angling rendezvous, with a railway station of the same name close by.  A long row of trees on the left bank is the cause of daily trouble to wherrymen and sailormen, as it shuts off the wind.  The man who plants trees by the side of a navigable river, where the navigation depends upon the wind, is the very reverse of a benefactor to mankind, and only selfishness or thoughtlessness can permit such an act.

There is fair mooring for yachts just below the Inn, on the same side, but they must be kept well off the shore by poles, or as the tide ebbs they will strand and perhaps fall over.  The Ferry Inn is noted for its comfort; and its limited staying accommodation is good.  The fishing is very good both up and down the river, and there are good boats for hire for fishing purposes.

The river now becomes very wide and deep, and the shoals near the banks, which abound in the higher p. 38reaches, are not so frequent.  I would call the especial attention of the river authorities to the disgraceful state of the river as far as Buckenham Ferry.  Each year the shoals and weeds increase, and the channel narrows, until in some places not more than a third of the river-width is available for the navigation.  The natural consequence will be that the navigation must gradually cease to be made use of, as it becomes a matter of difficulty, and the railway will take the trade, which might be kept to the river if a more energetic care of the navigable stream were taken.  This is a most serious matter, and ought to be attended to.

Langley Dyke

p. 39Next is Langley Dyke, near which are the reaches of the river where the principal regattas are held, and by the river side is Cantley Red House (fourteen miles).  Cantley railway station is very close to the river, and as the water is deep close to the bank, and there is some fairly firm ground, this is a favourite yachting station, with good mooring to the banks.  Comfortable quarters may be had at the Red House, and the fishing is good all about.  A little lower down, on the same side of the river, is another house, “Peart’s,” where one may obtain comfortable accommodation, and a “dock” where small boats may be safely left.

We delayed so long on our way that the wind was falling, as it usually does towards five o’clock on summer days: the tide had also turned, and we had it against us, so our progress was slow.  We passed the mouth of the Chet on our right, navigable some four miles up to Loddon.  Its mouth is marked by Hardley Cross, which forms the boundary between the Norwich and Yarmouth jurisdictions over the river.  We barely made headway as a public-house on the left, called Reedham Ferry, was reached, and a little lower down we lay to against the “rond,” or bank, and made all snug for the night.  A little further is Reedham village (eighteen miles), which is picturesquely situated on high ground on the north bank of the river.  The railway station is close by, and is the junction between the Yarmouth, Lowestoft, and Norwich lines.  There is staying accommodation p. 40to be had at Reedham.  Yachts can be moored against the south bank above the bridge, but should not be left unguarded, as the tide runs strong, and wherries tacking through the bridge often jam up against the bank.

Roach The stove was soon alight, and the kettle on, while we walked to the village for eggs and milk.  As the gloaming deepened, Wynne grew poetical over the scene of wide space there was about us, filled then with an orange glow from the west, while the swallows skimmed the river, and struck red drops of spray from the surface.  Then when the awning was spread over the stern sheets, and the lamp lit up the snug cabin, Wynne smoked contentedly, to the envy of the writer, who cannot smoke; and it was later than it ought to have been ere we lay down in our respective bunks, and were lulled to sleep by the ripple of the water against the planks.

p. 41 St. Nicholas’ Church, Great Yarmouth

p. 43 Decorative Chapter header


Decorative drop capital The next morning we were up betimes to take the last of the ebb down to Yarmouth, and catch the tide up the Bure.  As there was a fresh breeze from the east, we had to tack nearly the whole of the way.

At Reedham there is a swing bridge, over which the railway passes, and if the wind is foul it is always a difficult matter to sail through, particularly if the tide be against you.  On the present occasion we had the tide with us; therefore, on reaching the opening of the bridge, we could shoot the yacht up into the wind, and carry her way on until through, when her head was paid off on the proper tack.

“I tell you what, these Norfolk waters are capital places to learn to steer in.  An inch either way, and we should have torn our sail against the bridge.”

“Yes, and what with getting the utmost on every p. 44tack, without going ashore, shaving wherries by a yard or two, and watching for every puff as it comes over the grasses on the marsh, so as to make the most of it, there is more fun in sailing here than on more open waters.”

Just below the bridge is the New Cut, a perfectly straight canal, three miles long, connecting the Yare with the Waveney, and so saving a round of some eighteen miles, which would otherwise be necessary to get from the one river to the other, as a reference to the map will show.

Now came a steady beat for several miles, until we reached the Berney Arms (on the right is the mouth of the river Waveney), when Breydon water opened out before us, with Yarmouth in the distance.  When the tide is in, this is a remarkable sheet of water, four and a-half miles long by a mile broad.  There are mud flats on either side of the wide channel, where herons and sea-fowl greatly congregate.  The strong wind against the tide raises a respectable sea, and the tacks being longer we made rapid progress, and the motion was exhilarating.  A sail across Breydon in a strong wind, is a thing I always consider a great treat.  The channel is marked out by stout posts at intervals of two hundred yards or thereabouts, but it is not safe to sail too close to all these posts unless the tide be high, as the shoals stretch out beyond them, and, in default of local knowledge, it is best to give them a wide berth.

p. 45 The Quay, Great Yarmouth

p. 47The spires of Yarmouth grow more distinct, and at last we arrived at its quays, just as the tide was on the turn.  We made fast alongside a wherry moored to the quay, and while our man, with the assistance of one of the loiterers on the quay, lowered the mast, and quanted the yacht up the narrow mouth of the Bure and under two bridges, we took a stroll about the quays, the quaint “rows” and streets of the old part of the town, and had a peep at the splendid church.

The ebb tide runs very strongly, and, to avoid being carried against the bridge which spans the contracted harbour, it is prudent for the stranger to have an anchor in readiness.  The public quays are on the north side next the town, and a berth alongside a wherry or other yacht can be chosen.  There are private moorings laid down alongside the south shore off “Cobholm Island,” and it is customary, in case of need, to bring up to one of these, if vacant; but a yacht must not be moored there, or alongside another yacht there, without permission.  If the visitor is nervous or inexperienced, he can avail himself of the services of one of the watermen loafing about the quays, to help him through the fixed bridges which block the entrance to the river Bure, which here enters the harbour.

Bream The river bends to the south at an acute angle with its former course, and for about three miles runs very close to, and almost parallel with the sea.  It is interesting to row past the wharves and quays, where many p. 48quaint and picturesque bits present themselves, but on account of the rapid flow of the tide, it is not a part of the river much frequented by the river yachts.

p. 49 A “row”, Great Yarmouth

As Yarmouth has guide-books all to itself, it is not necessary here to expatiate upon its attractions.

p. 51 Decorative chapter header

yarmouth to acle.

Decorative drop capital On going back to the yacht, we found that she was moored in the North River, or Bure, having been quanted under the two fixed bridges, and the mast was being slowly raised.  The big pole masts of these river yachts are very heavy and unwieldy, and I am always glad when the operation of lowering and raising them again is safely over.  Sometimes they have lead weights permanently fixed to the heel of the mast (which latter swings in a tabernacle), but generally, lumps of ballast have to be shifted and hooked on, a troublesome “pinch-finger” business which I avoid in my own yacht by using a tackle and blocks.

Of course the wind was fair, as our course up the Bure lies north for a mile or two, and then due west as far as Acle; and it is well when it is fair, for the next twelve miles are very uninteresting.  There is nothing whatever p. 52to see, except eel sets and boats.  These Noah’s-ark-like craft are generally made out of old sea boats, with a hut built on them.  They are shoved a little way up a dyke, out of the way of wherries, and the eel net is stretched across the stream, waiting for the eels, in their annual migrations seawards, to swim into it.  Those two wooden buoys, one on each side of the river, mark its position.

Almost at our first starting, we got aground; hard and fast too, for the shoals are frequent hereabout.  We waited for the tide to float us off, and to help it we sent a rope ashore to a man on the bank.  The rope was not quite long enough, and Wynne undertook to bend another to it.  The man set all his weight on it, the knot parted, and the man disappeared on the other side of the embankment, where there was, we knew, a deep ditch.  Presently he reappeared, dripping wet, and in a towering passion.  He refused to assist us any more, so we waited a little longer, and as the tide rose, we were again afloat.

Once round the bend by the Two-mile House we sped away at top speed to the westward, with frequent jibes as the river bends.  The great boom came over with tremendous force, and made the yacht quiver again, although we eased it all we could by rallying in the sheet.  The low, dull banks passed rapidly by, the only land-marks being solitary houses, known as the three-mile, four-mile, five-mile, six-mile, and seven-mile houses.  Then we came to Stokesby Ferry, where there is a group p. 53of houses, which would make a picture, and an inn, where there is tolerable accommodation, called the Ferry House.  Then, on the right, are some sluices, marking the entrance to the “Muck Fleet,” a shallow, muddy dyke, only navigable for small boats, which leads to the fine group of Broads known as Ormesby and Filby Broads.  Of these we shall have something to say afterwards.  A separate excursion has to be made to them, as they do not come within the round of a yachting trip, unless you drag your jolly over the sluices, and row the four-miles-long Muck Fleet.  Having once tried this experiment, I cannot recommend others to do it.

A mile and a half further on, and we came to Acle bridge, twelve miles from Yarmouth.  Here is a fixed bridge, where the mast has to be lowered.  When we got through this we stopped for dinner, and then, although we might have sailed up to Wroxham with the wind before dark, we were fated to spend the night here, in consequence of a freak of Wynne’s.  In the exuberance of his spirits, he attempted to jump a wide dyke, using the quant as a leaping-pole.  As a matter of course, the pole sank deep into the mud, and when it attained an upright position, it refused to depart from it, and so checked Wynne in mid-air.

“Whatever is going to happen now?” he exclaimed, and after a frantic gymnastic exercise on the top of the quant, it slowly bent, and finally broke, depositing Wynne on his back in the middle of the dyke.

p. 54We fairly shrieked with laughter, and, as Wynne said, it served him right, for laughing as he did at the man rolling into the ditch, when the rope gave way.

As we had to get a new quant from Yarmouth, we had to wait here until the morning, and amuse ourselves with fishing for bream, of which large quantities may be caught here, and of good weight.  Acle is a capital fishing station, and is now accessible from Norwich by the new line to Yarmouth, branching off at Brundall.  Acle is a charming village, and offers many residential facilities to those who are fond of country life and aquatic amusements.  It is within easy reach of all the best Broads, lying on the rivers Bure and Thurne, and not far by water to Yarmouth.  There are three good inns—the “King’s Head,” the “Queen’s Head,” and the “Angel.”  The most convenient is the one by Acle bridge (the “Angel”), kept by Mr. Rose, who well understands and can supply the needs of yachting men and anglers.  There is staying accommodation at the inn, a wagonnette to meet the trains, fishing boats to let, and every attention from the host.  As there is good mooring to both banks, especially above the bridge, and the river is wide and deep, Acle is rapidly becoming a favourite yachting and angling station.

St. Benet’s Abbey

Owing to the wide breadth of marsh there is a true wind for sailing, and the reaches above Acle to Thurnemouth are wider and finer than any other parts of the Bure.

p. 57 Decorative chapter header

acle to wroxham.

Decorative drop capital The wind, on the next morning, was from the north-west, a head wind for us, and there was little of it; so little, indeed, that we could not stem the tide, and had to quant for three miles.  Then we came to the mouth of the river Thurne, leading to Hickling Broad, up which we intended to sail on our return from Wroxham.  The Bure turns off sharply to the west, and as the wind gradually gained in strength, we were able to dispense with the unwelcome labour of quanting.

The first noteworthy spot that we came to was St. Benet’s Abbey, situated on the north bank of the river.  Once upon a time it must have been a mighty building, covering much ground, as its scattered ruins testify.  Now nought reminds us of its founder, sensible King Canute, but a fine archway, with some contiguous walls, upon which a windmill has been erected, but which is p. 58now itself in ruins, and two massive parallel walls, standing about two hundred yards to the eastward; also, there are arched doorways, and strong walls in the house by the riverside, whose cool recesses speak of ancient days.  This house was once a public-house; we landed to get a drink of buttermilk, and lay in a store of eggs and butter.  We also climbed to the top of the ruined arch, whence a wide prospect is visible, and one may count a goodly number of churches.

Opposite the ruins is a dyke, down which a wherry turned.

“Where does that lead to?” asked Wynne.

“To South Walsham Broad, which is a mile and a half down it; and, although wherries can sail down, this boat, which draws about five feet six inches, cannot.  Still, we can go down in the jolly, or, if you like, stay here, and fish for perch.  This is a noted spot, because there is a hard gravelly bottom, and, by the way, we might have stopped at Thurne mouth, which is a good place for pike.”

“I like exploring these dykes, so I vote we go down to the Broad.”

Cottage, South Walsham Broad

So we started, and overtook the wherry, which had been aground, and she gave us a tow down.  The Broad, which was formerly one sheet of water, has, by the growth of reeds and plants, been divided into two portions.  There was nothing particular to be seen in the first one; but on rowing into the further Broad, we saw p. 59a cottage on the right bank, which, with its long, low thatch, deep eaves, its honeysuckles and roses, its trees and its landing-place, formed a most tempting object for a sketch, and one the artist would do well to seek.  The Broad is private, save for the navigation across one part of it to South Walsham, and the fishing is preserved.  The old course of the river formerly made a horse-shoe bend down towards South Walsham, and the present straight channel by the Abbey ruins is an artificial cut.  The site of the Abbey is an island of solid ground in the midst of a great extent of marsh.  When we got back to the boat we saw the man fast asleep on the counter, with his rod in the river, in tow of a large perch, weighing one pound and a half, which we secured.

About a mile further, on the right hand, as we ascend the river, is the mouth of the river Ant, leading to Barton Broad and Statham, of which more anon.

“The river is getting uncommonly pretty,” said Wynne, “and this slow tacking enables me to see it to advantage, eh!  How close we steer to the fishing boats! and, pray tell me, why do fishermen in Norfolk wear such extraordinary hats!  Here is another dyke.  Can we sail down it?”

“If we only drew four feet of water, we could go on to Ranworth Broad.”

“Then, on my next cruise here, I will get a yacht that does not draw more than a wherry does.  It is absurd to have such deep draught yachts where there are so many shallows.  Let us row down.”

p. 60Ranworth Broad is a very pretty Broad, but grown up so that it is divided into two.  The eastern half is navigable to the village of Ranworth, but otherwise private, as is the other portion of the Broad.  This is very strictly preserved, on account of the wild fowl which frequent it.  It is a favourite fishing place, although permission has first to be obtained from the owner, who, however, cannot be expected to give leave indiscriminately.  It is not worth while seeking to fish in private waters in this district, for other fish than pike, seeing that the free fishing in the rivers is as good as any one could wish for.  From the eastern part of the Broad, a very pretty picture, with the church in the background, on a wooded height, is visible.

Horning Village

Then to Horning Ferry, where, as we approached, a horse and cart were being ferried across, and we had to p. 61lie to for a few minutes, until the huge raft was safely across, and the chain lowered.  The public-house at the ferry is a very comfortable one, with a nice sitting-room and garden in front, and is a capital place to make one’s head-quarters.  It is about nine miles drive from Norwich, and four from Wroxham railway station.  A little further on is Horning village, a picturesque group of houses, straggling along the river bank, with a large windmill on the hill behind, making a good picture.  Here our ears were greeted with the song which, for generations past, the small children of the village have chanted to passing yachts—

“Ho! John Barleycorn: Ho! John Barleycorn,
All day long I raise my song
To old John Barleycorn.”

That is all.  It is simple and effective, and extracts coins from too easily pleased holiday-makers.

Ranworth Church

The river turns to the left, at right angles to its former course, as it passes the village, and on the north bank is a reedy sheet of water, called Hoveton Little Broad, where there is a small colony of the black-headed gulls.  On the south side is a small, but pretty Broad, called the Decoy Broad.  Then the river turns still more sharply to the left, and we sailed due south, after having come due north by Horning.

“What a number of anglers there are!” said Wynne, “and the singular thing is, that they always seem to be catching fish.—How many have you caught?” he called out to two fishermen in a boat.

p. 62“About six stone, sir,” was the reply; “but we have been at it since daylight, and they bite very slow.”

“I must say I think Norfolk a very favoured county, with all these splendid rivers and free fishing; and one place seems as good as another.”

“Yes, as long as you pick deepish water, and get under a lee.”

“Do they groundbait the place where they fish?”

“Not before they come, but while fishing they throw in a good deal of meal, mixed with water and clay.  If they were to groundbait one or two suitable places on both sides of the river, so as to be sure of getting a lee, for a day or two before they fish, they ought to get even more than they do now.  Here is a boat-load trailing for jack.  Ask how many they have caught.”

Wynne did so, and the reply was, “Fifteen, but all small: they run from two pounds up to seven.”

“People here either fish for pike with a live bait or trail with a spoon.  You rarely see anybody spinning by casting, or even using a dead bait on a spinning flight.  Now, I know that in the hands of one or two people, a paternoster has proved very deadly.  With three large minnows on your tackle, and roving about close to the bank, you may get many pike and perch.”

“I’ll try it in the morning before breakfast,” said Wynne.

In another mile the river again turns westward.  On the north is a very large Broad, called Hoveton Great p. 63Broad, whence comes the clangour of a large colony of black-headed gulls.  The Broad is not navigable for anything of greater draught than a small sailing boat; and now all access to it has been barred by chains across the dykes, and it is strictly preserved, chiefly in consequence, it is said, of the disturbance of the gulls by visitors.  The gulls flew, screaming, overhead, in a white cloud, so that the air seemed filled with them, and the half-grown young ones floated on the water, as lightly as thistle-down.  Although this colony is nothing like so large as the famous one at Scoulton Mere, near Hingham, in Norfolk, yet it is extremely interesting, and particularly when the eggs are being hatched off, and the little fluffy brown balls, which represent the young birds, are running and creeping about the reeds and grasses, and swimming in and out of the water-divided tussocks.  Air and water and grasses seem thrilling with abundant life, and the ear is deafened with abundant noise; a noise, however, which, discordant as it is, has for a naturalist the music of the nightingale.  The water is very shallow at the east end, where the gulls are, but the soft mud is of an exceeding great depth.

Some years ago the American weed, Anacharis alsinastrum, that pest of our inland waters, so completely filled this Broad, that a duck could walk upon the surface.  It then suddenly decayed, at the same time poisoning the fish so that they died by thousands.  Since this time the Broad has been comparatively free from it.

p. 64During Wynne’s visit the Broad was still open, and we visited it in the jolly.  After rowing about for some time, we turned to go back to the yacht, and Wynne said, “I don’t see the sails of the yacht anywhere.  Where can she have disappeared to?  I know that the river is over there, because there is the sail of a wherry over the reeds, but there is no channel through the reeds, and it is no use your rowing that way.  You have lost your way, my boy.”

We only laughed at him and rowed on.

“I tell you that there is no way into the river here.  Oh, yes, there is; I beg your pardon, but I should have rowed about until doomsday before I found the way off.”

“And you couldn’t have landed, for I don’t think there is a bit of solid ground all round the Broad.  But where is the yacht?”  For there was no sign of her.

The wide opening on the opposite side of the river suggested that perhaps the man had taken her on to Salhouse Broad.  So we rowed on, disturbing a kingfisher, which was perched on a bullrush, and there was a picture.  Wynne cried, “Oh!” with delight, and, although I have seen the like so many times, the scene is always fresh in its beauty.  On the placid bosom of the small lake the yacht lay motionless, while a pair of swans, with their brood of cygnets, swam near her.  Outside the ever-present boundary of green reeds, was a darker circle of trees, and crowds of yellow lilies made a bright bit of colour in the foreground.  On the further p. 65shore was a thatched boat-house, and behind it a wooded bank.  The thud of the jolly against the yacht’s side aroused a wild duck; a shoal of rudd broke the still surface, as they sprang from a pursuing pike, and the red-and-white cows, which had pushed through the reeds to drink, stood looking at us contemplatively.

We dropped the anchor, and got tea ready, and Wynne worked hard at a water-colour sketch, brush in one hand, bread and butter in the other, palate, plate, and sketch-block mixed up, and the brush going as often into his teacup as into the mug of water.

After tea, we landed, and walked into the long and straggling village of Salhouse, in search of bread and fresh meat, and on our return, climbed to the top of the bank, whence a fair prospect met our eyes.  At our feet were Salhouse Broad, and the smaller Broad next to it, which I call Salhouse Little Broad, a lakelet covered with water lilies; outside these, the sinuous river, doubling upon itself, as though loth to leave so pleasant a land; Hoveton Broad to the right, and Wroxham Broad to the left; many white sails flitting about on the latter, and more yachts coming slowly up the river.

There is a navigation across Salhouse Broad to Salhouse Staithe, but the present owner of the Broad discourages sailing upon it, and the reader is advised not to anchor or moor there.  The old times when one could come and go upon the Broads as a matter of apparent right are now past.

p. 66We went to Girling’s farm, close by, to get milk, and eggs, and butter, and I may mention that Mr. Girling has comfortable rooms to let, suitable for a family, whilst the situation is unsurpassed for prettiness.

We quanted off the Broad, and found just sufficient air moving on the river to take us gently on.  We had a little surprise in store for Wynne.  As we came up to Wroxham Broad, I asked him to reach me something out of the cabin.  When he was safe inside, I put the helm up, and we slipped through the ‘gatway’ into the Broad.  When Wynne came out of the cabin, instead of the river banks, he saw the wide-stretching Broad, the Queen of the Broads, for her beauty, size, and depth of water combined.

“This is lovely.  I had no idea that we had left the river.  What a string of fishing boats!  Are they having a match?”

“Yes.  Angling matches are very favourite amusements here, and the prizes are sometimes valuable, and sometimes very miscellaneous in their nature.  They are very sociable, well-conducted gatherings, and I think the Norfolk anglers would meet with old Izaak’s approbation, as being honest and peaceable men.”

“They all look very happy.  But, tell me, are there always so many yachts here as there are to-day?”

“Not quite.  The fact is, there is a regatta of the Norfolk and Suffolk Yacht Club here to-morrow, and it is always a genuine water frolic.  This is a favourite p. 67place at all times; Wroxham is only seven miles by rail from Norwich, and the Broad is only a mile and a half from Wroxham by water.”

We drifted across to the other side of the Broad, and there dropped our anchor, and made all snug.

Horning Ferry

It was a lovely evening, and yacht after yacht came upon the Broad, and anchored; anchoring, by the way, meaning, in the majority of cases, dropping some pigs of ballast overboard, at the end of a rope, for the mud is so soft that an ordinary anchor would drag through it.  We visited our friends on various yachts, and then the moon shone so brightly out of a cloudless sky, that, late as it was, we did not turn in for a long time, but floated about in the boat, and yarned about old times, until it was very late indeed.

p. 68 Decorative chapter header

wroxham broad.

Decorative drop capital I had scarcely closed my eyes, it seemed to me, ere I was awakened by Wynne moving about.

“What are you up to?” I cried.

“I am going to paternoster for perch, and I’ll take the casting-net to get some small fry.”

“Oh, dear! why can’t you wait until the morning?”

“It is morning.  It is four o’clock and broad daylight.”

“Then go, and don’t come back until breakfast time.”  And I drew the curtains over the windows, and tried to think it was quite dark, and to get to sleep again.

On awaking I heard the sound of a piano.  My first thought was, “Where am I?”  I found that I was on the boat, sure enough, and it was seven o’clock.  There was no more sleep for me, for a wherry, fitted up as a yacht, was lying near, and her crew had not only got a p. 69piano on board, but played upon it at seven o’clock in the morning.  It is an excellent plan to rig up a wherry in this way for a cruise, as good accommodation for a large party is secured, and the interior can be well divided into several sleeping-rooms.  The presence of ladies aboard the wherry, and up so early, was rather a nuisance, as one had to row away for one’s dip.  Up to eight o’clock, the Broad is generally sacred to the men, who can take their plunge overboard with safety.

Presently Wynne came back.

“Well, what have you caught?”

“Two jack, about five pounds each, and three perch, about a pound each.  If I could have got some minnows I should have done better, but the roach I got were too large for paternostering, and not lively enough.  I got into a row, too.  I found a bow net set among the weeds, and there were three large tench in it.  As I took it up to look at it, its owner appeared, and slanged me considerably at first; but when he cooled down, he got talkative, and told me that the reaches of the river by Salhouse and Hoveton Broads are the best for pike, but that all the way down to Horning Ferry is good.  By the way, I saw a lot of boats fishing on the Broad when I set out, and they went on to the river when they saw me.  The Broad is not preserved, is it?”

“No; but one of the owners, Mr. Chamberlin, levies a tax of 2s. 6d. on fishermen, and as it goes to the Norfolk and Norwich Hospital, one ought to pay it p. 70willingly.  Poor men can’t pay it, so they fish on the Broad in the early morning, and then leave for the river.  They walk here from Norwich, overnight, and begin to fish before daylight, and as they can get a boat at Wroxham for a shilling a day, it is not an expensive pastime for them.”

“I saw some notice boards at Salhouse, but there was so much on them, and the letters were so small, that I could not read them, but I suppose they were meant to warn people off.”

“Yes, there is unfortunately too great a disposition amongst owners to try and close the Broads against the fishing public, and even to interfere with the old navigation rights, but there are praiseworthy exceptions, and here comes one, the owner of this end of Wroxham Broad.” [70]

p. 71As the sun rose higher, so it grew hotter in too great a ratio, and the breeze was too light to afford much excitement in the way of racing.  Still, it was a wonderfully pretty sight, such as could be seen on no other English inland water, save Windermere: the yachts, too, are very much like the Windermere yachts, but carry even more canvas than the latter do.  The following are the dimensions of a 10-tonner of that time: length on keel, 25 feet; over all, 34 feet; beam, 10 feet.  Ordinary canvas would be, mainsail luff, 23 feet; head, 28 feet 6 inches; foot, 35 feet, and leech, 42 feet; jib, leech, 23 feet; foot, 36 feet; and luff, 48 feet, with a topsail yard of 23 feet.  For racing, these dimensions are largely increased.  For fast sailing and quick turning to windward, these boats are justly celebrated, but the Broads are so rapidly growing shallower, that their draught, about five feet, closes many of the Broads to them.  A much more sensible type of a large boat for p. 72pure comfort in cruising (though not for sport in sailing) is one founded on the wherry plan, with a large mainsail, and drawing not more than three feet of water.  For such boats under 10 tons, the “Una” type is the best.  Its shallow draught would enable it, with the centre-board up, to go anywhere, and penetrate into the most charming recesses of this wild country, which the deeper yacht can never see.  Its beam gives safety, and also minimises the inconvenience of the centre-board case in the cabin, and a high booby hatch would give head-room.  The one sail is very handy, and if her owner has but ordinary skill and energy, he could sail her alone, and so dispense with the expense of keeping a man.  Without this expense, yachting in these waters is a reasonable and very cheap amusement.  These remarks are for the benefit of the great number of people who have written to me at one time or another, to know what facilities for economical boat-sailing and living exist in these waters.  For fast sailing and ease of handling by a skilled person, the present improved type of sloop or cutter cannot be surpassed on any waters.

Well, 10-tonners and 4-tonners, open cutter-rigged sailing-boats of a very fast type, canoes with battened sails, luggers and boats, and wherries sailed to and fro, and steam launches puffed noisily about, and marred the beauty of the scene, as well as upset the glasses and dishes of breakfast or luncheon by the swell which they caused.  The people paid very little attention to the p. 73racing, but set themselves heartily to enjoy this great water picnic.

Wynne went ashore, and discovered some pretty woodland vistas, with glimpses of the Broad, and the glancing sails between leafy boughs of oaks, and under lofty arms of Scotch firs.  Also, he discovered that at the farm at the lower end of the Broad, Mrs. Newman’s, there were rooms to let, and that an artist friend of his had taken them, so there he stayed for a long time, and kept the jolly, in spite of vigorous hails for it.

Of the adventurous journeys of yachts up to divers Wroxham Regattas, of the exploits of elated yachtsmen, and the mishaps of careless ones, of the fun and merriment attendant on these annual gatherings, the writer has written in another place.  At present, we must hurry on.

In the evening we sailed, or rather quanted, up to the Bridge.  These reaches of the river were lovely in the extreme.  The clear and brimming river reflected the marginal flowers and groups of trees, while acres of marsh shone with the yellow iris flowers.  But, alas! the woods and the sloping fields kept off the wind, and made one wish that the upper entrance to the Broad were widened and made navigable.

We came to the Bridge at last, and moored to the bank, watching the homeward-bound holiday makers arrive in yachts, and boats, and wherries; a goodly number of the latter having numerous passengers.

Belaugh Church

p. 74Wroxham has two decent inns, where good boats and bait may be obtained—Jimpson’s (the “King’s Head”), and Whittaker’s, the former the largest, but both comfortable.

p. 75 Chapter Header

wroxham to coltishall.

Decorative drop capital The bridge at Wroxham is very narrow and low.  The mast, of course, had to be lowered, and the yacht quanted under the road and railway bridges.  A wherry passing under raised her mast too soon, and damaged the ornamental vane, which consisted of the inevitable figure of a Welsh girl with a high hat and holding a bunch of leeks.

“There, I must have a new Welsh girl,” said the wherryman.

“Why is such an emblem chosen in Norfolk, of all places?” asked Wynne.

“Some thirty years ago there was a wherry named after the famous Jenny Morgan of the song, and she had such a vane.  It took the fancy of the wherrymen to such an extent that they all adopted it in the course of time.”

The river here is very narrow, and Wynne, who was p. 76steering, put the yacht “on the putty” twice, before he could be induced to give up the helm to the man, who professed to know the exact depth of every part of the river.  The river makes a very long loop to the south, just above Wroxham.  In this loop is Belaugh Broad, said to hold some very large carp, but it is preserved.  On the neck of the loop, on a high bank, stands Belaugh Church, a prominent object for some miles, as you follow the river.  It is very picturesquely situated, and the view from it is characteristic.  Close by the church is a draw-well, with a pent-house over it, well worth sketching.  There is a pretty backwater, or old channel of the river, near here, called “Little Switzerland,” which is worth rowing up, but unfortunately the owner objects even to artists visiting it, and hence it must be considered as sacred ground.

It came on to blow very hard, as we finished the three-mile loop of river, half a mile from where we entered it, and as the wind was fair, the corners sharp, and the river narrow, we lowered the mainsail, and ran up under the jib alone, to Coltishall, where we at once made a rush for the butcher’s, just in time to secure a piece of meat for our dinner to-morrow, which, being Sunday, we intended to spend at Coltishall.  The village is superior to most Norfolk villages, and contains some old houses with rounded gables, and a fine church.

Dyke Near Coltishall

The great business of the place is malting, and many men labour as maltsters in winter and boat-builders in p. 77summer, so that summer is the time to get a boat built at Coltishall, when either Allen or Collins will build you one at a reasonable rate.

The fishing is very good in this portion of the river, and there are great numbers of jack here, although they run rather small.  In the spawning season, the bream head up here in large numbers, and as there is no close season in Norfolk, many anglers follow them up.

The first lock on this river is just above the village, and on the bye-stream stands Horstead mill, a very fine specimen of the Norfolk water-mill.  It stands upon p. 78arches, and the stream runs under it, the wheels, of course, being undershot.  It makes a very effective picture, seen from below, and, in fact, if you row your jolly up the left-hand stream, as you go up, you will see very many lovely bits worth the painter’s attention.  I have photographed some of them, as I can’t sketch, but photographs cannot depict the colour.  It is in the soft living light of these Norfolk scenes that their chief beauty lies, but they cannot be depicted without the aid of colour, and only imperfectly then.

The river is navigable for wherries and yachts drawing but little water, right up to Aylsham, some eleven miles further; but there are two more locks before reaching Aylsham.

Ludham Bridge

Coltishall is accessible by rail from Norwich, being the next station to Wroxham, and lodgings are obtainable there.  The jack fishing is very good all the way.

p. 79 River Bure—Hautbois

p. 81 Decorative chapter header

up the ant, to barton and stalham.

Decorative drop capital Wynne had undertaken the office of steward, and so far we had fared sumptuously, but as we were tidying up on Monday morning, the fact became apparent that the provision lockers were nearly empty.

“The fact is,” he said, “I thought there would be a better chance of buying things, as we went along, than there appears to be, for with the exception of butter and eggs, we might as well be on the prairies.  What shall we do?”

Now, provisioning is a very perplexing thing, particularly when it is for several days, and as I knew that at Norwich made-up hampers of provisions for fishing-parties could be obtained, we telegraphed for one to be sent to us at Wroxham station, and departed in hope, with a light but fair wind.  We trailed a pike-bait behind, and caught several jack, and two or three good p. 82perch.  We were three hours getting to Wroxham, and while the mast was being lowered, Wynne went to the station to meet a train then coming in.  He returned in glee with a hamper of good things, and our difficulty was at end.  Once we spent a Sunday at Wroxham, with nothing procurable to eat but biscuits, and once, at Barton, we were obliged to fish for our meals.  Meat so soon goes bad on board a boat, and one does not always care for tinned things.  A good wrinkle is to have a bottle containing a strong solution of permanganate of potash on board, and then a few drops placed in a pint of water will make a most efficient deodorising liquid, with which you may safely sprinkle the meat, and wash out the lockers.

As the day advanced, the breeze got up, and by two o’clock we were at the mouth of the river Ant, ten miles from Wroxham.

As we turned up its narrow and shallow waters, our man said,

“We shan’t get very far up this river, sir, with a craft drawing so much water as this.”

“No, but we can get to Ludham Bridge, and there I have arranged for an old lateener to be waiting for us.”

Woodland Pool—Irstead We touched the ground several times before we got to the bridge, about a mile up, thus showing that a very fine Broad is practically closed to the possessor of a large yacht of the usual type.  We left the yacht below the bridge in charge of the man, and Wynne and I p. 83transferred ourselves on board a six-ton lateener, very broad and very shallow, with bluff bows; a boat sixty years old, if a day, only drawing about two feet of water.  She had an enormous lateen foresail, and a mizen, and she subsequently formed a picturesque object in Wynne’s sketches.  A wherry was coming through the low and narrow bridge, and, as the water was high, she had some difficulty in doing it.

The wind was fair for a large portion of the way, and we bowled along very fast.  Where it was ahead, owing to a bend in the river, there was no room to tack, and one of us would jump ashore with a line, and tow.  The Ant is just like a canal, except that it has no tow-path.  The fishing in it is remarkably good, particularly at Irstead shoals, where there is a stretch of water about half a mile long, with an even depth of four to five feet, and a firm, level, pebbly bottom, a curiosity in this land of boggy streams.  This is an excellent spot for perch and pike.  It is marked by the presence of a church on the western bank, and is one of the few places on these waters where a person who cannot swim can bathe with safety or comfort.  The muddy bottom, of course, prohibits wading.  As you approach the entrance to Barton Broad, the bottom becomes muddy again, and the Broad itself is full of mud; there being large “hills” where the water is not more than two feet deep.  The navigable channels wind between these hills, and are marked out by posts.  The Broad is a mile long, and very pretty, p. 84and the entrance to it is four and a half miles from the mouth of the Ant.  In our light-draught lateener, we ignored the channels, and sped about all over, often, however, finding our speed diminished, as the keel cut through the soft mud, and turned up yellow volumes of mud behind.  It is a curious fact that in some Broads and portions of Broads, the mud is of a light yellow colour, and in other portions black.  As all this mud is the result of decayed vegetation, this difference is singular.

There is an artificial island in the Broad, where a picnic party were then enjoying themselves.  We sailed away into the long bight which leads towards Neatishead, where the bowery woods, fringing the water, spoke of welcome shade, but we were brought to a stop by the mud, and had some difficulty in getting back.  On this very lovely Broad, we found we had much better stick to the channels, which were wide enough, and explore the shallows in the jolly.  The fishing here is remarkably good.  I do not think any objection is made to angling for coarse fish, but permission must be obtained for pike fishing.  The Broad, though the water is fresh, is affected by the rise and fall of the tide.  Going on one night in the dark, I missed the channel, and ran so hard on to a “hill,” that in the morning when the tide was at its height, we had to lay the yacht on her side by means of lines and tackles to the nearest channel posts ere we could float her off.  The Broad is easy of access, p. 87by going to Stalham railway station, and hiring boats at Stalham, whence a row of about two miles will bring you on to the Broad.

Entrance—Barton Broad

At the north end of the Broad, a wide dyke leads northwards.  This divides into two about a mile from the Broad; the left-hand one leads to Dilham and North Walsham, becoming a canal, with locks and water-mills.  We took the right-hand one, and on coming to another sub-division, took the left-hand one, the right leading to a grown-up piece of water, known as Sutton Broad.  The course we chose led us over Stalham Broad, which, though marked on maps as a piece of open water, now only consists of a tract of marsh, with a dyke kept open through it.  Stalham is at the end of this dyke.  Here there are two good inns, the “Swan,” and the “Maid’s Head,” and there are plenty of good boats for hire at the waterside.  Stalham has a station on the Yarmouth and North Norfolk Railway, and as a fishing station is considered very good.

We caught a pike in the dyke, at luncheon time (ours as well as his), and a big fellow of about fourteen pounds in weight was said to haunt the spot.  We saw a large fish strike at some roach, but he would not look at our spinning-bait.  Within sight of the dyke end is a tumble-down house, with a thatched roof, broken-backed, and altogether so jumbled and ancient-looking, that it makes a capital subject for a sketch.

In the afternoon we sailed quietly back to the cutter, p. 88and took both boats back to the Bure, and down it to St. Benet’s Abbey, which we reached by moonlight.

Carp Wynne had taken a great fancy to the lateener, which had been lent to me by a friend, and as we wished to explore the Broads about Hickling, all too shallow for the cutter, we decided to take both yachts up the Thurne to Heigham Bridges, and leave the cutter there, while we took the lateener up on the wide, wild waters above the bridge.  The next morning we devoted to pike fishing, at the mouth of the Thurne, getting our bait with a casting-net.  We got up very early, and were moored in a convenient spot, and all rigged up ready to start before the mist had risen off the water.  I do not intend to go into the details of our sport, which was not out of the way, but by one o’clock we got six pike, from four to ten pounds in weight, and put back four under-sized fish.  This was with live bait, without moving more than one hundred yards from the same spot.

Carrying reeds, Barton

p. 89 Barton Staithe

p. 90 Stalham Dyke

p. 91 Decorative chapter header

womack broad.

Decorative drop capital Being tired of fishing, we had a swim, and then dinner; and, late in the afternoon, we hoisted sail, to a stiff breeze, Wynne and the man in the cutter, and I in the lateener.  They ran away from me so quickly, however, that I could not stop them at the entrance to Womack [91] Broad, as I had intended, and was obliged to go in chase of them up to Heigham Bridges.  The round, bluff bows of my old lateener, designed to support the heavy mast, which raked forward over them, made such a hollow in the water, and raised such a big wave, that sailing very fast was impossible.  As it was, the nose of the boat sank so that it seemed as if she must run under, a fate not uncommon with lateeners, when running before a stiff breeze.  It was this peculiarity of theirs, combined with the large foreyard, more than twice the length of the boat p. 92which caused the rig to fall into disuse.  For turning to windward, however, they are uncommonly handy, and easily managed single-handed.  The Thurne is a fairly wide stream, with deep water, so that you can tack close up to the banks.  It is four miles from the mouth of the Thurne to Heigham Bridges, and the cutter was there ten minutes before me.

Drainage Mill—River Thurne

“I say, Wynne, I wanted you to stop at that dyke, half way up, but I could not make you hear me.  There is a charming little Broad there, called Womack Broad, and a picture ready composed, so bring your paint-box, and we will beat back in the lateen.”

We reached the dyke in half an hour, tacking in that narrow channel with great celerity.

The River Thurne

“This boat turns more quickly than the cutter, I think; at all events, there is less trouble in managing p. 95her,” said Wynne.  “Do you know that I think a fine-bowed lugger, with main and mizen rig, would be a handy boat for these waters.”

“Some of the old lateeners have been turned into luggers, and sail very well.  Here is the dyke, nearly a mile long, and fringed with ferns and flowers, reeds and bulrushes, iris and forget-me-nots.”

“Here comes a wherry.  What shall we do?  There is no room to pass.”

“We must go to windward of her, or her sail will take the mast out of us.  Here is a place made wide to admit of wherries passing, and we can hold on here until she gets by.  There, that was a tight fit.”

The boat sailor must be very careful to keep to windward of the wherries in narrow waters, as their huge gaffs and sails take up a great deal of room, and if they catch your mast, they may carry it away, or capsize you.  It is still more important not to get across the bows of a wherry, as she would get the best of the encounter, and a small yacht very much the worst of it.  It is not often that accidents happen through any collision, but occasionally the crew of a row-boat get bewildered and row across the bows of a wherry, sailing fast, and a day of pleasure is turned into mourning.  A special Providence seems to watch over amateur boat-sailors, and it is marvellous to see how they come unharmed out of predicaments which seem most serious.  The wherries are sailed remarkably well, and you can generally rely p. 96on their carefulness, so that you may sail your yacht rigidly according to the rule of the road.  One thing should be remembered, the wherry’s sailing is a matter of business, and the yachtsman’s is a matter of pleasure only; therefore, it is well to give way to a wherry, if there is any doubt on the point, and not hamper her unnecessarily.

The dyke we were then sailing down is about a mile long, leading westward to Womack Broad, which was once a nice sheet of water, but is very rapidly growing up, each year seeing an accretion to the growth of spongy marsh, and an additional layer of mud on the bottom.  At present, the channel is navigable for wherries, which ply to Ludham village, at the further end of it.

On the right-hand side, as we entered the Broad, is a bit of an old-world picture: a boat-builder’s shed, large and old, and of picturesque construction, stands on the margin, amid low bushes and under the shade of mighty trees.  Beneath it is a large boat, of an age and type unknown, and a wherry sleepily awaiting repair.  Behind the boat-house is a barn, whose high-thatched roof is shaded by the branches of a cherry tree.  By the side of the boat-shed is a dyke, where sundry small craft are ensconced.  Behind all, and peeping out of a garden run wild, are low, thatched cottages, and scattered about, among the tall grasses, are trunks of trees, curved “knees” of oak, suitable for boat-building, and broken-up boats and punts.  On the still water in front is p. 97moored a floating eel-fisher’s hut, and all around is the sense of the repose of the past.  The former busy life has left its emblems resting in acquiescence with the fate which contracts the sphere of their usefulness, day by day, and year by year, as the vegetation slowly, but surely, drives out the water.  That dense growth of reeds lies upon a skim of soil which would not bear the weight of a dog, and now undulates with the movement of the water, but in three years’ time it may bear the weight of a man.

Gudgeon An old man who lives near there, grumbles because the artists come and paint his cottage and broad, and take away pounds’ worth of sketches, and never think of sending him a picture in acknowledgment.

It was a lotos lake to us that afternoon.  Wynne painted, and I fished, and we sailed back to Heigham Bridges by moonlight.

Womack Broad is not shown upon some maps and charts, but those who are susceptible to a lovely scene should not pass it by.

p. 98 Decorative chapter header

hickling broad.

Decorative drop capital Heigham Bridge is a small stone one, with not much room to get through, and a little above it is the railway bridge, over which the Eastern and Midlands Railway runs, with a station not far off—Potter Heigham.  Near the station is the “Falgate” Inn, where there is comfortable accommodation.  A gate hangs over the inn by way of a sign, and on its bars is inscribed the following—

“This gate hang high
But hinder none,
Refresh and pay
And travel on,”

The omission of the s in the third person singular of the verb is truly Norfolk, and common even among the middle classes.  At the bridge is the “Waterman’s Arms,” where one or two bedrooms, and a small parlour, all scrupulously clean, are obtainable.  Just by the bridge, in a sort of wooden “Peggoty’s Hut,” lives Applegate, p. 99who has good boats, sailing and rowing, for hire, stowed away in a remarkably neat boat-house.  The fishing all round is as good as it can be, and I never fail to get a jack near the bridge, while, within four miles lie Hickling and Somerton Broads, Heigham Sounds, and Horsey Mere.  For myself, I should prefer this as a fishing and boating station, to any other, because of the wildness of the district.

Hickling Broad

The tide ebbs and flows strongly; and I caught Wynne standing on the bridge, and looking in a perplexed way at the rate the perfectly fresh water of the river was running up stream.  The exit of these waters—at Yarmouth—was twenty miles away, by water; Heigham Bridge is only between four and five miles from the sea, in a direct line, and the water was now running eastward, towards the sea, and the lakes, which daily rise and fall, though only a few inches, actuated by the salt tide, “so near, and yet so far.”

“Verily, this is a strange country,” said Wynne, “and not, I should think, beyond the possibility of a sudden visit from the sea.”

“No, those light-coloured mounds in the distance are the sea-banks, of sand, only held together by scanty marram grasses.  We will pay them a closer visit.”

We got the lateener through the bridges, taking sufficient things for a night’s absence, and sailed away up the Thurne, which seems now to lose its name as a river, and take that of the “Hundred Stream.”  About half a p. 100mile above the railway bridge is the mouth of Kendal, or Candler’s, Dyke, a narrow winding stream, up which we turned, soon to find ourselves bordered by tall reeds on either hand, and then sailing through a wilderness of water and reeds so tall that they bounded our view.  This is Heigham Sounds, now greatly overgrown, and a capital place for wild fowl; also for rudd, which here attain a very large size, and go in immense shoals.  Out of the channel the water is extremely shallow.  In the channel, particularly in Kendal Dyke, I have caught a good number of pike.

The fishing on all these Broads—Hickling, Horsey, and the Sounds—is nominally preserved, but fair anglers do not seem to be interfered with.  At all events, in the channel and the dykes one may pretty well do as one likes, and no attempt has ever been made to set up an exclusive right to the rivers.  I note that a Fishery Preservation Society has been formed to abolish illegal netting, and to overlook this district, and under the auspices of this it is probable that riparian owners will not object to anglers taking a share of the superabundant fish out of the Broads.  I call the fish superabundant advisedly, and will adhere to the term until anglers can assure me that they know what to do (usefully) with the number of fish they catch, and cease from throwing them away on the bank, after ascertaining their weight and number.

Dyke at Potter Heigham

Well, we sailed as close to the wind as we could—and p. 103nothing goes closer than a lateener—and could just lie the channel through another reedy lake, called Whiteslea, on to the vast expanse of Hickling Broad, a lake 400 acres in extent, and looking three times as large, owing to the extreme lowness of its shores, the absence of any landmarks, and the great concave sky, which seems to fit close down all around it.  A channel across it is marked by posts, which we left to starboard, as we sailed over it.  The width of the channel you will have to determine by experiment, as there is no guide.  At a guess, it is twenty yards wide, and all the rest of the Broad is so shallow that you might wade over it, and find a hard, yellow, gravel bottom almost everywhere.  Trusting in our two-feet draught, we sailed hither and thither, and felt our way checked, as the keel cut through masses of weed, and then the bound forward, as the boat entered a part clear of weeds.  These bunches of weed have lately increased greatly in Hickling Broad, which used to be comparatively free from them, and the promontories of reeds are pushing themselves further and further into the lake, and the bays between are getting shallower.  Still, the lake is large enough, as yet, to be able to stand a little filching from.

We sailed down to Catfield staithe, on the western side of the Broad, and not far from Catfield railway station, on the line already alluded to.  Then we went to Hickling staithe, at the north end, where there is an inn, the “Pleasure Boat,” and walked into the village to post letters, and to receive some.

p. 104Boats of a rough kind can be obtained here for fishing purposes.  They are long, narrow, and flat-bottomed, and the usual method of propulsion is by “setting.”  The setter sits in the extreme stern, and pushes the boat along with a light pole, at a great rate.  There are often setting races at local regattas, and great fun they are.

Hickling Staithe

The number of broken-up lateeners on the shores of the Broad attest the decay of large pleasure-boat sailing on these remote waters, but the smaller class of centre-board boats are coming into favour, and are, perhaps, more suitable.

After lunch we had to reef the great foresail, which was not an easy operation, as the reef was taken in along the yard, and we had to go into the jolly boat to get to p. 105the end of it.  The jolly boat committed a joke its species is very fond of, under similar circumstances; that is, it slipped away from under one of us, and left him clinging to the yard, with his legs in the water.

Martham Broad

I shall never forget three days I spent, on Whiteslea and Heigham Sound, for the fishing and fowling, one December with a friend.  I stayed in the little cottage on the small island in Whiteslea.  We had two boats and two men to attend to us during the day, but at night we were left to ourselves in the lonely house, where the water oozed through the floor, and the beds were so damp that I slept completely clothed in my oilies.  There was a bitter north-easter sweeping over the dry reeds under a leaden sky, and the sport was of the slowest.  I never felt the cold so much, accustomed though I am to winter pike-fishing.

p. 106 Decorative chapter header

horsey mere and somerton broad.

Decorative drop capital It was exhilarating work sailing over Hickling Broad, and we were very loth to leave its wind-swept waters.  We had a rare run back along the channel, and over Whiteslea, and then turned sharp to the left, up the Old Meadow dyke leading to Horsey Mere.  This dyke is a mile long, and of fair depth, but so narrow that people fishing on the banks had to hold up their rods as we passed, while our sail swept the tops of the reeds.  Then we shot into Horsey Mere, a lake of 130 acres in extent, with a small island in the middle.  It was very clear, and very shallow, the channel for wherries lying along the west side of it, into Palling dyke, which leads north-westward for several miles until it reaches almost to the sea.

The white sand-hills on the coast were plainly visible, and the thunder of the surf was audible, as the sea was p. 107but a mile and a half away.  We did what nearly every one else does who visits Horsey in a yacht; landed at the east end of it, and walked to the coast, but it was too rough to bathe.  These sand-hills form a very curious barrier between the salt and fresh water.  They are steep and high, and make one wonder by what force of wind and waves they attained their present shape and dimensions, in so flat a country, and why the like forces do not dissipate them over the plain.  Breaches have been made in them by the sea, from time to time, notably in the winter of 1791, when a very high tide made several gaps, and threatened to overwhelm the marshes inland.

“I like this Mere as well as any of the Broads,” said Wynne, when we returned to the yacht.  “It is so very still and lonely, and its quiet is in such contrast to the roar and unrest of the sea close by.  Is the fishing free here?”

“No, it is supposed to be preserved, though I don’t suppose anyone will object to our catching a pike for supper, if you wish.  There are no pike like those in Horsey, the proverb says.”

But the wind had fallen as suddenly as it arose, and the glamour of a fiery sunset shone over the silent mere.  An occasional cry of coot, or duck, or splash of fish, and the distant sound of the sea, but emphasized the stillness around us.  We sat on the cabin roof, and talked lazily, as the dusk came slowly on, and our voices were low, in unison with the evening hush.

p. 108“I do not wonder,” said Wynne, “that you are so fond of these waters.  An evening like this, in such watery solitude, makes a strong impression upon one.”

Horsey Mere is only accessible by water.  There is a railway station—Martham—about four miles off, but if you walked from there you could get no sight of the Broad without a boat, and boats are not procurable.

“What are these cushions stuffed with?” asked Wynne, as we lay down for the night.

“Horse-hair, I expect; but then age has made them hard and crabbed.”

“Well, I think that the sleeping accommodation might be vastly improved in your Norfolk boats generally.  Canvas cots or hammocks, air beds and pillows, would all be better than the thin cushions there are in the cutter.  I sha’n’t sleep to-night, for I have pins and needles all over me already.”

And in five minutes he was snoring!  One could sleep on a deal plank, or even on an oak one, after a few days and nights on the Broads.

We woke very early in the morning, and found that a brisk breeze had sprung up, and that the lateener had dragged her moorings and drifted into the reeds.  She had taken no harm, for, short of being run down by a wherry, there are no dangers of shipwreck on the Broads, and you might drift about unmoored, for all the hurt there is likely to accrue.

Sound Asleep

After a hurried breakfast we hoisted the foresail, and p. 111tore down the dyke into Heigham Sounds, across which we sped fast, throwing the shallow water into waves, which shook the reeds mightily.  When we emerged from Kendal dyke into the main stream, we turned to the left, and in less than a mile reached Martham Ferry, which was stretched across the river while some wagons were passing across.  This ferry is a large raft, which is kept in a recess on either side of the river, and floated across, reaching from bank to bank when required.  There is no one to tend it, and if it happens to be on the other side, a wayfarer must wait until some one appears on the other side to get it across.  It is a wonderfully clumsy thing to look at, and is not regarded with friendly eyes by the wherrymen, who run their wherries full tilt against it too often at night, or when, with the wind astern, they are unable to stop.  One wherryman, exasperated beyond endurance, let his wherry go at it with all her force when running before half a gale, but only smashed the bows of his vessel, not moving the ferry a bit or injuring it, for it is heavily bound with iron to withstand such experiments.

We sailed to and fro until the wagons had passed, but a wherry coming up had to lower her sail in a hurry, and then struck the raft with great force before it could be drawn away.  This jammed it diagonally across the river, and it was half an hour before it could be moved.

At the other side of the ferry, and at the mouth of a dyke, is a capital place for pike and large eels, and I p. 112can conceive of no better-looking pike place than the mile of stream between here and Somerton or Martham Broad.  The water is deep and clear, with a stratum of lily leaves, about four feet below the surface, and here and there lilies on the surface.  As we sailed over its glassy surface, not ruffled by the crossing wind, on account of the high reeds and grasses, we could see thousands of fish of all sizes darting away beneath us; and at the end of the main dyke, where it divides into two, is a deep, clear pool, with a hard, gravelly bottom, where there are any quantity of perch and large roach.  It is the beau-ideal of a spot for bottom-fishing, but “fine and far off” must you fish, for the water, though deep, is passing clear.  It is easily accessible from Martham railway station, and preferably from Potter Heigham, where, too, you could procure a boat.

The right-hand dyke leads to Somerton Broad, another reed-surrounded lake, possessing no particular merit.  From Martham ferry we walked up a steep road to the village, lying around a broad green, and had we time we would have ascended the tower of the church, which is a conspicuous object for miles, and from which a splendid view of sea and lake is attainable.

In the church we noted a tablet to one Burraway, whose history is told there, but is too unpleasant to be more than referred to here.

After being so long on board a small vessel, one’s legs become cramped and unfit for walking, and the walk to p. 113Martham and back, only a couple of miles, quite tired us, and we were glad to get back to our little craft.  In half an hour’s time we were passing under Heigham Bridge, and watching our man playing a seven-pound pike in the pool below.  On the bank, by the cutter, he had arranged for our inspection a score of bream, from one pound to three pounds in weight, which he and another had caught early that morning and the night before.

Before turning our faces again towards Yarmouth, it may be mentioned that yachts may safely be moored to the bank anywhere above Acle, care being taken to avoid the obviously shallow parts.

In many places you will notice the eel-sets, which are fixed nets across the river for the purpose of intercepting the silver-bellied eels on their migration to the sea.  These nets are only set at night, and there is a man in charge (sheltered in a rough sort of house-boat or hut), to lower the nets when craft are passing, so that they do not obstruct the navigation.  Immense quantities of eels are caught in these nets, and it has been proved by an inquiry conducted by the Yare Preservation Society, that other fishes are not caught therein, and that the sport of the anglers is in no wise interfered with.

Decorative chapter end

p. 114 Decorative chapter header

back to yarmouth.

Decorative drop capital It was two o’clock when we hoisted a reefed sail on the cutter, leaving the lateener in charge of the owner, who had joined us, and it was three o’clock when we reached Acle bridge, having done the seven miles in the hour, wind and tide with us.  We left Acle at four, being much delayed in lowering and raising the mast, and reached Yarmouth (12 miles) by half-past five; so we made a pretty quick passage.  We laid by the “Ale Stores” for the night, and were very careful to have the yacht strongly moored, for the tide runs fast.  We were interested in the way the wherries dropped down out of the North River, with lowered masts, and a chain or weight out over the bows, so as to retard their speed, as they drifted stern first, steering, of course, by the pressure of the faster-flowing tide against the rudder.  We had intended to drop down in a similar way, through the swing bridge just below p. 115us, and to go, by sea, to Lowestoft, a distance of only eight miles; but as the wind kept getting up, and Breydon was white with foam, we put off making up our minds until the morning, for the disproportionate bowsprits and open wells of the river yachts are not very suitable for sea work.

Of course, we strolled upon the pier, and then returned to the quay-side by moonlight.  We found that it was dead low water, and that the yacht had receded so much below the level of the quay, that no plank within reach would touch her.  The man was in the forepeak fast asleep, and it was a long time before we could wake him, and then we jumped on to some wherries lying near, and he brought the jolly to us.

Perch We woke at times during the night, and felt the boat swaying, and heard the wind howling in the rigging to a very pretty tune.  In the morning there was no abatement, and although it was off the land, we shirked the wetting we should get at sea, and decided to go over Breydon, and up the Waveney.  As the tide would not make until the middle of the morning, we took the jolly and rowed down to the harbour mouth at Gorleston.  It is interesting to note how, for three miles, the river flows parallel with the sea, and, on the average, under half a mile from it, the dividing land being nothing more substantial than shingle and sand.  Deeply interesting is it, also, to read of the early struggles of the inhabitants of Yarmouth to maintain a navigable waterway.  p. 116Sometimes the river would open a new outlet for itself, and sometimes they made a new one for it; and, time after time, the river mouth got silted up with the wearing away of this soft eastern shore.  Even now there is often insufficient water at the bar for deeply-laden vessels of ordinary size, and the entrance is particularly unsafe for sailing vessels to enter unassisted at certain times.  Picturesque sights abound on the river, and the quays.  Fishing smacks taking their brown nets on board from carts ranged alongside; boats of every form and size hauled up on the beach; vessels building; and vessels in dry docks, undergoing repairs; a regular covey of smacks, in tow of a powerful steam tug, and hundreds of similar sights of deep interest to a man bitten with the joint love of the water and the picturesque.

p. 117 Decorative chapter header

yarmouth to somerleyton.

Decorative drop capital On reaching the yacht, after rowing back with the first of the flow, we started with two reefs down to beat over Breydon, on which the wind against the tide raised a respectable sea.  There was a great deal of weight in the wind, for it was veering towards the south-west, having been north-west all night, and a strong south-west wind is generally full of puffs and squalls.  Many times we had the water over the coamings of the well, and the lee plankways were always awash.

“This is something like fun!” gasped Wynne, as he eased off the jib sheet to a squall, and the salt foam dashed in his face; “but there won’t be much skin left on my hands by the time we get to the top of Breydon.  These enormous jibs are horrible things to have to work.  If the yachts had finer bows, they would not want p. 118nearly so much head-sail, and would go as fast, if not faster.”

This was heresy to our man, who had seen no other rig for river boats all his life, and he and Wynne had a heated argument on the matter, without either being much the wiser.

On reaching the top of Breydon, we turned to the left, up the Waveney, for half a mile, as far as Burgh Castle, passing over the dreaded Burgh flats, where a wherry and a yacht were both hard aground, waiting for the tide to float them off.  The deep water channel is not near the line of posts as one would imagine, but close along the west shore.  We touched two or three times, but did not stick, and at last moored alongside a wherry, and landed to inspect the ruins on the top of the hill.  No one passing along these waters should miss the ruins of Burgh Castle, a Roman station of great interest.

There is a very extensive stretch of massive wall, with towers at intervals, and at the corners; and we spent a considerable time in making sketches of the ruins, and admiring the extensive view.

We could, if we chose, continue on up the Waveney, but the next five miles of river are narrow, uninteresting, and with a heavy run of tide, while at the end is a fixed bridge—St. Olave’s, where the mast would have to be lowered.  So we turned back into the Yare, and sailed up to the mouth of the new cut at Reedham.  This is a ship canal, about three miles long, connecting the Yare p. 119with the Waveney.  The tide flows and ebbs from the Reedham end of it.  It is perfectly straight, and if the wind should be straight up or down it, there is nothing for it but to tow.  Now, however, we had a beam wind, and tore along merrily enough.  But trouble was in store for us.  The canal is wide enough, but it is not kept “didled” out (“didling,” or “dydling,” being a Norfolk term for dredging, with scoops at the end of poles, and lifting the mud on to the banks), and the sides are very shallow.  In the distance, we saw a large billy-boy, or topsail smack, from the Thames, and as we approached, it became only too plain from the rake of her mast, that she was aground in the very middle of the channel.  We got the mainsail down directly, and ran along under the jib, and then, as we expected, ran aground alongside of her.  A wherry coming behind lowered her sail, and stopped in time.  The smack was laden with rice for Messrs. Colmans’ Works, and her skipper, instead of going round by Yarmouth, had tried the short cut by Lowestoft.  After much shoving and towing we got past, and left the smack patiently waiting the rise of the tide, or the arrival of a tug.

[Since the foregoing was written, the Cut has been much improved in depth by dredging, and piling the banks.]

There is very good fishing to be had in the cut, and the banks are sound and dry, which is a rare thing on these rivers.  There is a lift-bridge at Haddiscoe railway p. 120station, near the end of the cut, which takes some time to get opened; this is a great inconvenience, and even a serious matter when you are sailing fast, as there is not room to come about.  They also sometimes fail to open the bridge wide enough, and some time since a large yacht had her mainsail torn as she passed through, by its catching on the corner of the uplifted bridge.  A toll of 1s. for each yacht is taken, and a man holds out a bag on the end of a pole to receive it.  The toll for wherries depends in amount upon whether they have the bridge opened for them or go through with mast lowered, and at night a chain used to be put across to prevent them stealing through unobserved, but the chain was frequently “charged” at full speed, and broken.

In a quarter of a mile we emerged into the Waveney, and, looking back, we could see St. Olave’s bridge, a rather handsome structure.  There are a few houses grouped rather prettily, and a good inn, the “Bell,” close by the Bridge, a quarter of a mile from Haddiscoe station, and about a mile from Fritton Decoy, a favourite lake for fishing, which we shall afterwards mention.

Somerleyton Hall

We then passed through a railway swing bridge, where the East Suffolk Railway passes over, and sailed without further incident some two miles further to another swing bridge at Somerleyton, where the Lowestoft line passes over.  This bridge is the worst on the rivers to pass when wind and tide are against you, as p. 123they so frequently are, and I am always glad to be well clear of its piles and projections, through which the tide swirls so swiftly.

The reach below the bridge used to be the best in the whole river for pike, but the greater run of tide in recent years and the salter water has spoiled the pike fishing, for which one has now to go higher up the river.

There is a very good inn at the top of the bank to the west of the line, called the “Duke’s Head,” and a very beautiful belt of woods skirts the marshes on the east side of the river, where some delicious “bits” may be obtained, and birds, butterflies, and flowers abound.

Dace Somerleyton village is well worth a visit, for the owner of the estate has built some most artistic cottages and houses, which, with another score of years’ wear, will be beautiful.  The hall, occupied by Sir Savile Crossley, M.P., stands in a sylvan park.

p. 124 Decorative chapter header

from somerleyton to beccles.

Decorative drop capital The angling in all this part of the Waveney is extremely good, and the bream and roach are of large size.  It is not nearly so much frequented as the other rivers or the upper part of the Waveney, and is practically unfished, on account of the difficulty in obtaining boats, there being no boating-station nearer than Oulton Broad, five miles away.  Still, it is worth while rowing from Oulton Broad, half way to Somerleyton, for the takes of bream there lately have been wonderful, both as to size and number.  The river is broad and deep, and one part is as good as another, provided that you select a sufficient depth of water.

We had no time to fish, and as a matter of fact I cannot stay to fish, if there is a good breeze blowing; sailing first, fishing after!

We lay to at the mouth of Oulton dyke, to get our p. 125lunch, which we had put off rather too long.  The dyke is nearly as broad as the river, and a mile and a half long, leading to Oulton Broad, which we intended to visit, after going up the Waveney to Beccles.  At the junction of the dyke with the river there is an excellent fishing spot, with a great depth of water.  While we lay there, a large two-masted vessel, a brigantine of 100 tons, came along the dyke at a good pace, with topsails only set, and looked as if she were going to scoop all the water out of the river with her great bluff bows.  Her crew were pointing out to us, as we lay on the Waveney, and presently the hail came across the narrow neck of marsh, “Do we turn up past you to go to Beccles?”

“Yes, sharp to port; right around!”

The topsails came down, and the mainsail went up with great celerity, and with the aid of her aft canvas, and the helm hard over, she came round the acute angle of the sharp bend with creditable quickness, looking a veritable Goliath on those comparatively narrow waters.  As she was now head to wind, down came her canvas, and half-a-dozen men went ashore with a long line to tow, and tow they did all the way to Beccles, 13 miles, by which time they must have had enough of it.  She was in sight all day over the marsh.

After lunch, we sailed up the Waveney, having to tack a good portion of the way; but the river is so tortuous that some of the reaches can be sailed whichever way the wind is, without tacking.

p. 126“How remarkably clear the water is!” remarked Wynne.

“Yes, those weeds you see are 14 feet at least below us, and the river is deep close up to the banks.  It is a very pleasant river to sail upon.”

“And what a lot of small fish there are!”

“Yes.  The Waveney ought to be the best bottom-fishing river in England, it is so deep, clear, and sweet, but the poachers used to harry it dreadfully, with their long, small-meshed nets, and it was even trawled up by smacks, to get bait for sea-fishing, but the Norfolk and Suffolk Fisheries Act has stopped all that, or nearly all, and the river is rapidly recovering itself.  There are some very large perch in it, and wherever you see the bank gravelly and free from reeds, the bottom will be hard too, and a haunt of perch.  Look at those bulrushes.”

“What huge ones, and what a quantity of them!”

“Yes, the marshmen sometimes dry the heads, and rub them up to stuff pillows and cushions with.”

On the north bank is the church of Burgh St. Peter, the tower of which is built in gradually-lessening steps, and presents a very strange, un-English appearance.

The sail up to Beccles is a very pleasant one, and pretty bits continually present themselves.  Two miles below Beccles there is a swing railway bridge, which is tolerably easy to get through, as there is not a great rush of tide through it, as under the bridges lower down.

p. 127Beccles church had been a prominent object all the way, and when we arrived at Sayer’s Grove, so prettily sylvan a place that we decided to stay there the night, we went in the useful jolly another mile to Beccles bridge, 23 miles from Yarmouth, until lately a narrow arched stone structure, but now replaced by a wider and more convenient bridge.  Passing through, we skirted the town of Beccles, until we came below the church, a sight no one should miss who is in the neighbourhood.  Viewed from the river, it stands on the brow of a hill, in a commanding position.  Landing, we climbed up a series of steps and reached the churchyard, whence a splendid view westward is obtained, the river winding in and out through the green marshes towards Bungay.  The south doorway of the church is richly ornamented, but the peculiar feature of the church is that the tower, a very high and massive structure, is separate from it.

Beccles is a quiet, old-fashioned place, with good railway accommodation, as a glance at the map will show.  It is a cheap place to live in, as there are no heavy rates, these being defrayed by the letting of valuable marshes belonging to the town.  It is a healthy little place, and pretty withal, and would, I think, be a capital place for retired persons with small incomes to settle in.

The river is navigable for wherries and small yachts, for about ten miles further up to Bungay, but the navigation is rather troublesome, and there are two or three locks to be passed through.

p. 128It is worth while to row up the river a few miles to Shipmeadow lock.  The river all the way is very pretty, with crystal clear water, and the lock itself is quaint and old-fashioned.

River Waveney

After laying in some stores we returned to the yacht, and spent a peaceful evening in the shadow of the wooded hill, beneath which we were moored.

p. 129 Decorative chapter header

oulton broad.

Decorative drop capital In the night we were awakened by the sound of very heavy rain pattering on the deck and cabin roof, and presently we discovered that the recent very dry weather had opened the seams of the wood, and sundry persistent droppings evaded our attempts to escape them.

“My nose is wearing away with one dreadful drop.”

“Then open your mouth and catch it.  Oh!”

“What’s the matter?”

“A drop went splash into my eye!”

We made merry for a time, but presently it clearly became a case of “a drop too much,” and we sat up in despair.  Just as things were getting uncomfortably wet, the storm passed off, and the morning dawned with a wondrous clearness and brilliance, while the air was full of the sweet, earthy scents that arise after rain.  p. 130The reeds were fresher and greener, and the grasses and flowers glittered in the sun, like the radiant ripples on the water.  And so, amid the songs of birds and the quickened joy of nature, we bowled along down the Waveney at a merry pace, and in two hours we had reached the mouth of Oulton Dyke, the sharp turn into which necessitated a heavy gibe.

Oulton Broad

A mile and a half of this and Oulton Broad opened out before us.  This is the most civilized of all the Broads, and is always gay with yachts sailing about, and populous with yachts lying at their moorings.  It is of an irregular shape, and in the bight, or “ham,” at the north-east end of it, the yachts are thickly clustered.  Also, for what reason it is hard to say, many of the old and worn-out fishing smacks of Lowestoft are brought into this corner, and moored against the bank, where very many of them have sunk, and all are picturesque in the extreme.  Some large sea yachts also use this bight as a laying-up place for the winter.  The river yachts and sailing boats are of every size and rig, and a paddle in and out among them is of interest to a nautical mind.  At the lower end of the lake is a lock which gives access for sea-going vessels to Lake Lothing, which is a tidal lake, two miles long, ending in Lowestoft harbour and the sea.  By the lock is one of the most charming hostelries it is possible to conceive.  It ought to be called the “Angler’s Rest,” were it not already called the “Wherry Hotel.”  Here there is capital p. 133accommodation for anglers, and boats, bait, etc., are provided at reasonable rates.  There is also another comfortable inn, called the “Commodore,” and there are two smaller inns, the “Waveney Hotel”—the landlord of which, George Smith, is an excellent waterman—and the “Lady of the Lake.”  The railway station is close by, and is now called Oulton Broad Station, but was formerly Mutford, that being the name of the village at the east end of the Broad.  The village is very prettily situated between the two lakes, and is only two miles from the sea.  There are lodgings to be had there, and for a place combining the attractions of lake, river, and sea, it has few equals.  Of course, the Broad is within easy reach of Lowestoft, the most attractive watering-place on the coast of Norfolk and Suffolk.  It has a fine pier, good houses, cliffs, a capital harbour for yachts, a harbour for fishing vessels, where the artist will find much that is picturesque, and an old part of the town on the higher ground to the north, which has many features of interest.  It has not the noise and bustle of Yarmouth, but it is gay enough for reasonable people.

At Lowestoft, facing the harbour, is the club house of the Norfolk and Suffolk Yacht Club, and annual visitors to Lowestoft would find it an advantage to join the Yacht Club for the sake of the conveniences afforded by the club-house.

Oulton Broad has plenty of fish in it, and the fishing p. 134is free.  When the rivers are flooded, and the rank water off the marshes pours into the river, the fish of all kinds crowd into the purer waters of the Broad in surprising numbers.  Formerly it was noted for its perch, but for some time they appear to have decreased in numbers.  Lately, however, they have been more freely caught.  In a few more years the benefits of the Norfolk and Suffolk Fisheries Act will be more widely felt, as the abundance of small fish in the rivers plainly testifies.  Pike are present sometimes in great quantity, but the supply seems to fluctuate considerably.  For a few weeks each season they seem to be uncommonly numerous, and large catches are made.  Then they fall off, and none are caught for some time.

The shooting on the Broad is also free, and in the large room at the “Wherry Inn” is a most attractive collection of fishes and birds, which have met their death in this locality.

The most interesting and tantalizing inhabitant of the Broad is the grey mullet, large shoals of which may be seen disporting themselves on the surface.  They run to a large size, and seem to average two or three pounds in weight.  Anglers cannot catch them as a general rule, but some persons say that they have succeeded, using small hooks baited with strange baits, such as the beard of an oyster, or a bit of boiled cabbage stump.  I fancy that by using a fly cast, buoyed at intervals by bits of cork, and having small hooks baited with gentles, p. 135and then paying out a long line so as to cover a shoal, some sport might be had.  At all events, the experiment is worth trying some day when there is no wind for sailing.  The mullet, when alarmed by a net or other obstruction, has a habit of leaping high out of the water, and frequently leaps into boats.  Once, while I was sailing through Reedham Bridge, a grey mullet, of four pounds in weight, leaped into the jolly-boat towing astern, and was captured.

Ruffe At Oulton the mullet are often shot with arrows having heavy lines attached, while they are accidentally confined in the lock between the Broad and Lake Lothing.

Well, we spent the rest of our holiday at Oulton, and as I was saying good-bye to Wynne at the station, I asked him what he thought of the Broads.

“The finest places for boat-sailing and bottom-fishing in England.  I shall bring a boat here in the winter for wild-fowl shooting on Breydon, and I shall certainly come again next summer.”

So ended our cruise.

p. 136 Decorative chapter header

ormesby and fritton.

Decorative drop capital There are still some very important Broads in Norfolk and Suffolk, which I could not mention in an account of a cruise, because they are not accessible from the navigable waters, and, as a matter of fact, I know comparatively little about them for that reason.  There are the Ormesby, Filby and Rollesby Broads, lying together in a straggling group four or five miles north-eastward of Acle.  Altogether, they contain 800 acres of water, but much of this is overgrown by reeds.  The Muck Fleet, which we passed below Acle Bridge, is their outlet into the river Bure.  They are very easily accessible from Yarmouth by rail to Ormesby station, on the North Norfolk Railway, and boats may be obtained at the Eel’s Foot, and the Sportsman’s Arms, the former having fair staying accommodation.  The fishing is free, at all events to persons going to the houses named, and p. 137uncommonly good sport is to be had amongst pike, rudd, and bream, the number of a catch being counted by the hundred, and the weight by the stone.  For fishing, pure and simple, Ormesby Broad is as good a place as any to visit.

Fritton Decoy

The other lake I have not described is Fritton Decoy, a long curving lake, about a mile from St. Olave’s station, on the Yarmouth and Lowestoft Railway, and Haddiscoe station, on the Norwich and Lowestoft Railway.  It is only open to anglers from April to September, being closed the rest of the year, to protect the wild-fowl decoys, which are still worked on it, by the two proprietors.  For a note upon these decoys, and others in Norfolk, I must refer the reader to a paper upon decoys, written by Mr. Thos. Southwell, F.Z.S., published in a new edition of that most fascinating book, Lubbock’s “Fauna of Norfolk,” issued by the publishers of this book, and for descriptive accounts to my own larger book, “Norfolk Broads and Rivers,” published by Wm. Blackwood and Sons.

Fritton is an exceedingly beautiful Broad, and its waters are very deep.  It is, in fact, a lake, rather than a Broad proper.  It is extremely well stocked with fish, and good sport may generally be obtained there.  Boats can be obtained at “Fritton Old Hall.”

Decorative chapter end

p. 138 Decorative chapter header

railway access to fishing stations.

Decorative drop capital To begin with, it may be well to state that Norwich itself can be reached from London by two lines of railway—one via Colchester and Ipswich, and the other by Cambridge and Ely, the journey taking from three to four hours.  From Norwich, Yarmouth and Lowestoft may be reached in an hour of slow travelling, and as the line runs by the river the whole way, and every station is convenient for fishing purposes, it will be desirable to give a list of them, with remarks upon the adjacent fishing places.


This is too close to Norwich for very good fishing, although occasionally the fish seem to head up, and good takes are to be had.  Good rowing boats may be obtained at Thorpe Gardens, five minutes’ walk from p. 139the station.  Omnibuses ply between the Gardens and Norwich every hour.  The reach of the old river is very lovely.


Is the station for “Coldham Hall,” at which inn visitors can be accommodated.  The inn is ten minutes’ walk from the station down the river, and across the ferry.  There are plenty of boats, and the place is much frequented.  From here down to Buckenham Ferry there are large numbers of pike, and it is customary to row down trailing a bait behind.  Roach and bream are plentiful.


From this station you have ten minutes’ walk down to the Ferry, where boats are to be obtained, and the fishing generally is good.


Close by the station is the “Red House” Inn, where there is good accommodation for visitors.  Boats can be had.  The fish, as a rule, run larger here than higher up.  The water is deep and the tide swift.  When the water is fairly clear, some good pike may be had.


The “Ferry” Inn is ten minutes’ walk.  Good accommodation.  The bream run large, so do the perch, of which there used to be large numbers under the ferry boat.

p. 140The line divides at Reedham, one part going to Yarmouth and the other to Lowestoft.  There is no fishing place on the Yarmouth branch, but on the Lowestoft line there are—


whence the Cut may be fished.  Boats are difficult to obtain, but the landlord of the “Bell” Inn, at St. Olave’s bridge, might procure you one.  This is the station for Fritton Decoy.


This would be an excellent fishing station if boats could be procured, but you cannot rely upon being able to borrow one.  The porters at the swing-bridge, or the landlord of the “Duke’s Head,” might direct you where to obtain a boat.  I think the latter has one or two.  The bream are very large and numerous.  The good fishing in this part of the river has been exemplified by Mr. Winch, of Norwich, who has taken 8 stone in a day—five bream weighing 20 lbs., and one bream weighing 6¾ lbs.


See the last chapter for full information as to this important fishing station.

Another line from Norwich leads to—


7 miles.  The river is full of roach, bream, perch, and pike, although it is much fished.  Boats at Jimpson’s p. 141or Whittaker’s, where there is also fair accommodation for visitors.  The Broad is a mile and a half down stream, from the bridge.  It can be fished by permission only.  Tickets to fish on the Broad can be obtained through Mr. C. J. Greene, Fishing Tackle Maker, London Street, Norwich, at 2s. 6d. per boat.


Two miles further.  The fishing is much better here than is generally supposed, but boats are not plentiful.  Enquire at the waterside who is likely to have one at liberty.

The Eastern and Midlands line runs from Yarmouth through the heart of the Broad District to North Walsham, on the Norwich, Wroxham, and Cromer line.  The stations from Yarmouth are—


A mile and a half from its Broads, about 200 acres of which are free.  The fishing is as good as it can be for pike, rudd, roach, and bream.  Boats at the “Eel’s Foot” and “Sportsman’s Arms.”  Staying accommodation at the former.


Not far from the river Thurne, but the next station is more convenient.


Inns, the “Falgate” and “Waterman’s Arms,” where p. 142there is staying accommodation.  Good boats at Applegate’s.  The river Thurne and the channels through Heigham Sounds and Hickling swarm with bream, rudd, perch, roach, pike, and eels.


The nearest station to Hickling, but not so convenient for boats.


Barton Broad is within a mile and a half, where the fishing is excellent.  Plenty of boats obtainable at the end of the dyke.  Inns, the “Maid’s Head” and the “Swan,” both very comfortable.  Stalham is a pretty village.

Thence to North Walsham there is no fishing station of interest.

On the direct line between Yarmouth and Lowestoft, St. Olave’s is the nearest station to Fritton.


Is now a station on the new line between Norwich and Yarmouth, joining the old line at Brundall.

Of places not accessible by rail, the chief is Horning Ferry, on the Bure, where there is a capital inn to stay at, kept by a good host and sportsman, Mr. Thompson, who can be relied upon to make his visitors comfortable.  At Horning village, the “New” Inn deserves mention, and boats can be procured there.  Horning is about four miles’ drive from Wroxham, and ten from Norwich.

p. 143The reader is requested to look at the Map, and note the relative position of the various places.  As to fishing, it can hardly be said that one is better than another, for all are so good.


Under this Act, which was passed in 1877, certain Bye-laws have been made, with which the reader should make himself acquainted.


Close Time—All Waters.

1.  No person shall fish for, catch, take, or kill, or attempt to catch, take, or kill, otherwise than by rod and line, within the limits of the above Act, any Trout, between the 10th day of September and the 25th day of January, both days inclusive, or any other kind of fish, between the 1st day of March and the 30th day of June, both days inclusive, except Smelts, Bait, and Eels, as hereinafter provided.

Nets Generally.


No person shall, for the purpose of taking Fish within the limits of the above Act, do any of the following things:—



Use or attempt to use any Net between one hour after sunset and one hour before sunrise, except in the River Ouse below Denver Sluice, and in the River Nene below Wisbeach Bridge.



Use or attempt to use, at any time before the 30th day of June, 1890, for the purpose of taking Fish, other than p. 144Tench, Smelts, Bait, and Eels, any Net having a mesh of less dimensions when wet than three inches from knot to knot, measured on each side of the square, or twelve inches all round.



Use or attempt to use any Net having a wall or facing, with a mesh of less dimensions when wet than seven inches from knot to knot, measured on each side of the square, or 28 inches all round.



Use or attempt to use, in any navigable river, any Bow Net.



Use or attempt to use, in any navigable river, any Drag Net having a poke or pocket.



Use or attempt to use a drag net of any kind in the under-mentioned waters:—


1.  The River Yare or Wensum—

2.  The River Waveney—

3.  The River Bure, below the lower entrance into Wroxham Broad—

4.  The River Ant, below the lower entrance into Barton Broad—

5.  The River Thurne, below the entrance into Somerton Broad—


except with the previous permission in writing of the Board of Conservators, under their Common Seal.

3.  No person shall, within the limits of the above Act, use or attempt to use, any net for taking Fish, unless it is sufficiently weighted to sink vertically in the water, or take, or attempt to take, Fish by placing two or more Nets behind or near to each other, or use any other device or artifice so as practically to diminish the size of the mesh of any net allowed to be used by these Bye-Laws, or to evade this provision.

p. 145Prohibiting Use of Trimmers, &c., in Navigable Rivers.

4.  No person shall use, or attempt to use, any Trimmer, Ligger, Dead Line, or Snare, or any like Instrument or Engine, for the purpose of taking Fish in any navigable river within the limits of the above Act, except Lines for taking Eels as hereinafter provided.

Taking Smelts.—Rivers Yare and Wensum.

5.  No person shall, within the limits of the above Act, use, or attempt to use, any Net in the River Yare or Wensum for the purpose of taking Smelts, except a Cast Net or Drop Net, between the 10th day of March and the 12th day of May, both days inclusive, and then only between the New Mills, in the parish of Saint Swithin, in the City of Norwich, or Trowse Bridge, in Trowse, or Trowse Newton, and the junction of the Rivers Yare and Wensum at a place known as Trowse Hythe, and between Hardley Cross and the junction of the Rivers Yare and Waveney.

6.  No person shall use, or attempt to use, a Cast Net or Drop Net exceeding 16 feet in diameter, in the River Yare or Wensum, within the limits of the above Act.

Taking Smelts.—River Waveney.

7.  No person shall, within the limits of the above Act, use, or attempt to use, in the River Waveney, above the Burgh Cement works, any Net for the purpose of taking Smelts, except between the 10th day of March and the 12th day of May, both days inclusive, and then only at the places and by the means hereinafter mentioned, viz., between Rose Hall Fleet, and the Boat-house Hill, near Beccles, and in the pen of Shipmeadow Lock, by a Cast Net or Drop Net not exceeding 16 feet in diameter, and if any such Net be used between one hour after sunset and one hour before sunrise, the same shall be used with a light or flare, and not otherwise.

p. 146Taking Smelts.—Rivers Ouse, Nar, and Nene.

8.  No person shall, within the limits of the above Act, take or kill, or attempt to take or kill, Smelts in the Rivers Ouse, Nar, or Nene, between the 1st day of April and the 31st day of August, both days inclusive.

9.  No person shall, within the limits of the above Act, use or attempt to use, in the Rivers Ouse, Nar, or Nene, for the purpose of taking Smelts, any Net having a mesh of less dimensions, when wet, than five-eighths of an inch from knot to knot, measured on each side of the square.

Taking Smelts.—Breydon Water.

10.  No person shall, within the limits of the above Act, use, or attempt to use, in the water known as Breydon Water, for the purpose of taking Smelts, any Net in the months of May, June, July, and August, or any Net between the 1st day of September and the 30th day of April, both days inclusive, having a mesh of less dimensions, when wet, than five-eighths of an inch from knot to knot, measured on each side of the square.

Taking Bait.—Navigable Rivers.

11.  No person shall, for the purpose of taking Bait in any navigable river within the limits of the above Act (except in the River Ouse below Denver Sluice, and in the River Nene below Wisbeach Bridge), use any Net other than a Cast Net, or any Cast Net having a mesh of less dimensions, when wet, than five-eighths of an inch from knot to knot, measured on each side of the square.

Taking Bait.—All Waters.

12.  No person shall, within the limits of the above Act, use, or attempt to use, any Cast Net exceeding twelve yards in circumference, between the 11th day of October and the 1st day of April in each year, or any Cast Net exceeding eight yards in circumference at any other time of the year, or any such net, p. 147having a sack, or purse exceeding fourteen inches in depth, when extended, for the purpose of taking Fish for Bait; and the word “Bait” shall mean Roach, Rudd or Roud, Bream, Dace, Ruff or Pope, Gudgeons, and Minnows, measuring less than eight inches from the nose to the fork of the tail.

13.  No person shall, within the limits of the above Act, Net for Bait at any time on a Sunday; and no person shall, within such limits, Net for Bait at any time on a week-day except between one hour before sunrise and one hour after sunset, nor unless such Bait is for use in angling, or trolling, or taking Eels within the limits of the above Act.

Taking Eels.—Rivers Yare and Wensum, above Hardley Cross.

14.  No person shall, for the purpose of taking Eels in the Rivers Yare and Wensum, above Hardley Cross, do any of the following things:—



Use or attempt to use in the months of April, May, and June, a line with a hook or hooks, except in connection with a rod used for the purpose of Angling.



Use or attempt to use any Net in the months of April, May, and June.



Use or attempt to use at any other time of the year, a Line, whether fixed or not, with more than one hook, except in connection with a rod used for the purpose of Angling.



Use or attempt to use any Net other than a Skim or Skein Net.

Taking Eels.—All Other Waters.

15.  In all other waters within the limits of the above Act, lines with one hook only, whether fixed or not, and fixed Nets, but no others, may be used at any time for taking Eels only.

16.  No person shall use or attempt to use, in any water within the limits of the above Act, a Dag or Spear, for the purpose of taking Fish other than Eels.

p. 148All Waters.

17.  Any person, within the limits of the above Act, taking any Fish except Smelts, Eels, or Bait in any Net allowed by the Bye Laws to be used for taking Smelts, Eels, or Bait respectively, shall immediately return such first-mentioned Fish to the water without avoidable injury.

18.  The foregoing Bye-laws shall not apply to any other than fresh-water Fish, or to the water known as Breydon Water, except as to Smelts, as hereinbefore provided.

I hereby certify that the foregoing is a true Copy of the Bye-laws made by the Board of Conservators under the above Act, and that such Bye-laws have been approved by one of Her Majesty’s Principal Secretaries of State, and have been duly advertised as approved Bye-laws in newspapers circulated in the Counties of Norfolk and Suffolk, and have been otherwise published as the Board directed.

Sealed by order of the Board.





To Trowse Hythe


,, Thorpe Second Bridge

,, Whitlingham Ferry


,, Corby’s Dyke

,, Postwick Grove

,,     ,,    Hall

,, Wood’s End

,, Wilde’s Cottage

,, Surlingham Ferry

,, Coldham Hall

,, Walpole’s Reed Bush


,, Buckenham Ferry


,, Hassingham Dyke


,, Langley Dyke


To Cantley Red House


,, Devil’s House


,, Hardley Mill


,,    ,,    Dyke


,,    ,,    Cross


,, Norton Staithe


,, Reedham Ferry


,,    ,,    End of New Cut


,, Upper Seven Mile House


,, Berney Arms


,, Burgh Flats


,, Yarmouth Drawbridge


,, Gorleston Pierhead



To Herringfleet Bridge


,,  Somerleyton Bridge

,,  Oulton Dyke

,,    ,,    Broad

To Mutford Lock

,,  Lowestoft Bridge


,,     ,,      Pierhead




To Berney Arms

,,  Reedham Town


,,  Norton Staithe

,,  Hardley Cross


,,  Cantley


,,  Buckenham Ferry


,,  Coldham Hall


,,  Surlingham Ferry


,,  Bramerton Wood’s End


,,  Postwick Grove


,,  Whitlingham


,,  Carrow Bridge



To Burgh Cage

,,  St. Olave’s Bridge

,,  Mouth of New Cut

,,  Somerleyton Bridge


,,  Mouth of Oulton Dyke


,,  Carlton Share Mill


,,  Seven-Mile Corner


,,  Six-Mile Corner


,,  Worlingham Staithe


,,  Aldeby Staithe


,,  Beccles Mill


,,  Sayer’s Grove


,,  Beccles Bridge


,,  Nine Poplars


To Dawson’s Dip House


,,  Barsham’s Boat House


,,  Mouth of Oulton Dyke


,,  Horse Shoe Point


,,  Oulton Broad


,,  Mutford Bridge


,,  Lowestoft Bridge


,,  Length of New Cut



To Three-Mile House


,,  Runham Swim

,,  Six-Mile House

,,  Seven-Mile House

,,  Stokesby Ferry


,,  Acle Bridge


,,  Fishley Mill


,,  Thurne Mouth


,,  St. Benet’s Abbey


,,  Mouth of Ant


,,  Horning Ferry


,,  Horning Point


,,  Wroxham Broad


,,  Wroxham Bridge


,,  Belaugh


,,  Coltishall Bridge


,,  Aylsham Bridge


p. 150Thurne.

To Thurne Mouth


,,  Potter Heigham Bridge


,,  Candler’s Dyke


,,  Hickling Staithe



To Mouth of Ant


,,  Ludham Bridge


,,  Mouth of Barton Broad


,,  End of Barton Broad


,,  Stalham


,,  Stalham Staithe


From Yarmouth Bridge to Runham Swim

   ,,    ,,         ,,      Six-Mile House

   ,,    ,,         ,,      Seven-Mile House

   ,,    ,,         ,,      Stokesby Ferry


   ,,    ,,         ,,      Acle Bridge


From Acle Bridge to Fishley Mill


   ,,    ,,     ,,      Thurne Mouth

   ,,    ,,     ,,      St. Benet’s


   ,,    ,,     ,,      Mouth of Ant

   ,,    ,,     ,,      Horning Rectory

   ,,    ,,     ,,         ,,    Ferry


   ,,    ,,     ,,         ,,    Point


   ,,    ,,     ,,      Entrance to Wroxham Broad


   ,,    ,,     ,,      Wroxham Bridge


From Wroxham Bridge to Belaugh


   ,,    ,,     ,,      ,,  Coltishall


   ,,    ,,     ,,      ,,  Aylsham


From Yarmouth Bridge to Wroxham Bridge


   ,,    ,,     ,,       ,,  Coltishall


   ,,    ,,     ,,       ,,  Aylsham


From Thurne Mouth to Heigham Bridge

   ,,    ,,     ,,    ,,  Kendal Dyke

   ,,    ,,     ,,    ,,  Hickling Staithe


From River Ant to Ludham Bridge


   ,,    ,,    ,,  ,,  Mouth of Barton Broad

   ,,    ,,    ,,  ,,  End of     ,,      ,,


   ,,    ,,    ,,  ,,  End of Stalham Broad


   ,,    ,,    ,,  ,,    ,, ,,      ,,   Staithe

p. 151TIDES.





It is high water at Lowestoft



later than at Yarmouth Bar

,,    ,,       ,,   ,,  Cantley



   ,,     ,,   ,,    ,,      ,,

,,    ,,       ,,   ,,  Coldham Hall



   ,,     ,,   ,,    ,,      ,,

,,    ,,       ,,   ,,  Oulton



   ,,     ,,   ,,    ,,      ,,

,,    ,,       ,,   ,,  Horning



   ,,     ,,   ,,    ,,      ,,

The Tide flows and ebbs in the Bure one hour later than at Yarmouth Bridge.




The rise at Yarmouth is

6 feet

4½ feet

,,   ,,   ,,  Lowestoft ,,

6½ ,,

5¼   ,,

,,   ,,   ,,  Cantley   ,,

2½ ,,

1½   ,,

,,   ,,   ,,  Oulton    ,,

2  ,,

1¼   ,,




The Tides, however, vary according to the strength and direction of the wind and the quantity of flood water in the river.


In the rivers it is customary to fish in 10 to 14 feet of water, and the shortness of the swims necessitates the line being heavily weighted, in order that it may sink rapidly.  The floats are necessarily large, particularly when used for the lower reaches, where there is a considerable tidal current.  The boats are moored in a line with the stream, not across it, as on the Thames, and the swims are thus very short.  For the upper and clearer waters, the Nottingham system of angling might be advisable, but in the more turbid lower reaches the Norfolk style is practically the best.  Worms are used for bream, and paste for roach.  Worms are procurable at some of the tackle shops, but anglers will do well to provide them for themselves if possible.

p. 152Boats are charged for at the rate of from 1s. to 2s. a-day, but are rather rough concerns, except at Oulton.

Ground-bait, consisting chiefly of meal and clay, is largely used, but a place is rarely baited beforehand.  As there is ample choice of stations, always moor so that the wind is at your back, and you will thus have smooth water in front of you.

Small roach as bait for pike, are procurable at most of the waterside inns, at 1s. to 1s. 6d. a score, but to get the best sport obtain fish from other waters, particularly dace and gudgeon.

Pike are, of course, the chief fish in Norfolk, and are plentiful everywhere.  In the rivers they do not run very large, a ten-pound fish being considered a good one, but in a few years’ time, with the freedom from netting the rivers now enjoy, we may expect some very large ones to be caught in the rivers.  In private waters there are veritable monsters, but the stranger is not likely to make acquaintance with them.

Live-baiting and spinning with a spoon, or artificial bait trailed behind a boat, are the usual modes of fishing for pike in Norfolk.  Trolling with a dead gorge, and spinning with a dead bait by casting, as in the Thames, are comparatively rarely practised, although I believe that in some portions of the rivers these methods would “pay.”  I have seen fly-fishing for pike practised with success here, and I firmly believe that on some of the shallower Broads it would be very deadly.

Ormesby Broad—Landing stage

p. 153Perch are only locally common wherever there is a suitable bottom for them, as at Irstead Shoals and Hickling, and in some portions of the Bure and Waveney, but they run to a large size, and are sometimes caught between three and four pounds in weight.

Bream are most common of all, and may be caught by hundreds and the stone weight.  They run up to five and six pounds in weight, and a take by two rods in a day of 150, averaging half-a-pound apiece, is not a rare event.

Roach are very numerous and large, many running close to two pounds in weight.

Rudd are beautiful game fish, common in some of the Broads, particularly Ormesby, and give rare sport if you get among a shoal of them.

Eels are, of course, present in any number, and “babbing” for them, with a bunch of worms threaded on to worsted, is not a bad way of passing a warm night.

Tench are common, but are not often caught with a rod and line.  They are taken in bow nets, and run very large.  In hot weather, in June, they may be taken by the hand as they bask in the shallow water among the weeds.  Some fishermen are very skilful in this particular mode of catching them.

Carp are caught sometimes, but not often, although there are plenty of them.

Dace and gudgeon are not so frequently caught in the navigable waters as other fish.

p. 154Chub and barbel are unknown in the Broad District.

The bream are so excessively abundant that they spoil the fishing for other fish, notably for perch, and I think it would be an excellent thing if the different preservation societies would set apart a few days each year for systematic netting to thin the bream, replacing the other fish, and selling those retained.  What is the good to anglers of catching thousands of small bream?  Are not a score over a pound weight each better than ten-score fingerlings?  Judicious thinning out, under proper supervision, would have a most beneficial effect on the size of the fish generally.

There are several preservation societies, of which the Yare Preservation Society is the chief.  Mr. C. J. Greene, of London Street, Norwich, Fishing Tackle Maker, is the honorary secretary.  The objects of these societies are to abolish netting and poaching, and protect the river for fair angling.  The subscriptions are nominal (5s.), and yet they are supported entirely by local efforts.  As a rule, none of the anglers from London and other distant parts, who come down to Norfolk and have the best of sport, contribute anything to the societies which are instrumental in furnishing them with sport.  This is exceedingly shabby of visitors here, and I trust that those who have been induced to visit the Broads through my writings will at least make the small return to Norfolk anglers of assisting them in their efforts to make these waters the best public fishing places in the kingdom.

p. 155There are a few professional fishermen to be hired by the angler.  “Professor” Day, of Richmond Hill, Norwich, is one of the best, and knows every inch of water, and there are some good men at Oulton.

Strangers frequently complain that they cannot meet with the excellent sport which falls to the lot of the local anglers, and I remember Mr. Cholmondeley Pennel being immensely dispirited at his non-success on our waters.  I lately interviewed a local gentleman who is well known as a successful fisherman, and I append my questions and his remarks thereon, which will afford some valuable information.


1.  Where found at different periods of the year?

Throughout the summer the entire length of our local streams where the water is fresh and not salt or brackish; the finest fish and greatest number between Cantley and Coldham Hall, on the Yare; large numbers also in the dyke leading from Oulton Broad.  In winter they appear generally to retire to the deep waters, and are sometimes found in good quantity about Thorpe Broad, and may be angled for with success in deep spots on the Bure and other waters.

2.  Best periods to fish for them?

July to October, but good catches may often be had in November, and during the winter and early spring months by any expert angler who doesn’t mind the cold.

p. 1563.  What time of day at different seasons?

As a rule, but few fish are caught during the middle of the day; this is especially the case in bright warm weather.  On dull, “close” days, however, they will often bite freely throughout the day.  The morning up to about 11.30, and from 3 to 6 or 7 p.m. are undoubtedly the best times to fish during summer, and in winter almost any time up to sunset.

4.  What depth of water?

As a rule, the best fish are found during summer in the deepest water, and should not be angled for on the Yare at a less depth than nine or ten feet.  On the Bure the deepest spots that can be found.  In March or April shallower waters should be tried.

5.  How affected by the tide?

Variously.  Sometimes an angler gets all his fish on the up tide, and at other times on the ebb.  I, however, suspect that certain local formations of the river bed, have much to do with this.

6.  What ground-bait?

The best I have ever used is composed of bran, bread, and boiled wheat, in fair proportions, made up into firm balls about the size of an orange.  One of these thrown in occasionally, and now and then a few grains of boiled wheat will generally suffice to keep a good quantity of fish about your boat.

7.  Are places ever baited beforehand?

Not often for roach.  Believe this is done occasionally by some, but have never practised it myself.

p. 1578.  What baits are most successful?

During summer the most successful baits are well-boiled wheat and paste, red or white, in such clear waters as the Waveney and the upper reaches of Bure, etc.  White paste is best on the Yare, the red always kills the best fish.  In autumn, gentles, and later on brandlings and gentles, or better still, small red worms, “blood.”  There are many other baits used with good success occasionally, but these are by far the most reliable.

9.  What kind of rod?

For tight-line fishing in the deep waters of the Yare, the rod should be light, stiff, and from 15 to 18 feet in length.  For running tackle a shorter rod will do, and for this I prefer one of hickory.  Should recommend cane for the longer kind.

10.  Number of hook?

When the fish are of fair size, I use No. 9, at other times Nos. 10 or 12.  Those known amongst anglers as “Crystal,” are excellent for roach fishing.

11.  Is running tackle advisable?

Running tackle is decidedly preferable for such deep, strong waters as those between Coldham Hall and Reedham.  For the slower waters of the Bure and the upper reaches of the Yare, I do not consider that running tackle has any advantages worth naming.

12.  Do you use gut or hair, and what kind of line?

For deep-water fishing I always attach nine feet of p. 158gut to my line; six feet moderately stout and three feet fine drawn.  Line, a fine braided silk.  A light, well-shotted line of this kind has many advantages, especially on a windy day.

13.  What kind of float?

Quill at all times.  For deep swift waters, a large pelican or swan quill, for slower and shallower waters a much smaller one.

14.  Is line heavily shotted?

For deep waters I use a float carrying upwards of 20 medium-sized shot.  These are placed on a space of about a foot, the bottom one not nearer than about three feet from the hook, with just one shot on the gut attached to hook.  This arrangement ensures the bait being carried swiftly to the bottom and kept steady, very important items in roach fishing.

15.  Is float best attached by lower end only?

Yes, this plan which has been in practice with the “Norwich School” for many years past is decidedly the best, and admits of much more neatness and accuracy in striking a fish than when the float is attached by upper end as well as lower.

16.  Do you strike at first dip?

When good fish are on the feed, the float is first affected by a slight tremulous movement, and almost immediately settles down, generally in a slanting direction; the moment to strike is just as the settling down p. 159commences.  This, however, requires a large amount of practice and some keen observation before an angler becomes expert.  Sudden perky bites indicate small fish, and these are often the most difficult to catch.

17.  Are the fish much affected by change of wind, rain, thick water, etc., and is there any rule on this head?

Have always found a S.W. to N.W. wind the most favourable, especially when the water is “grey” or thick, and have had capital sport with a moderate east wind, but never when it has blown strongly from that quarter, and the old maxim

“When the wind blows from the east
   The fish bite the least,
When the wind’s from the west
   The fish bite the best,”

contains a great truth in small compass.  Fish may undoubtedly be taken in clear water and in good quantity, but running tackle and fine, and extreme caution are necessary.

18.  Do you find that movement in the boat, noise, or loud talking frightens the fish?

Loud talking or laughter in the boat does not appear to intimidate the fish, but knocking or any disturbance which communicates a vibration to the water is decidedly objectionable, especially in shallower streams, and often causes a great interruption to the fishing.  Have found a pair of lawn-tennis shoes or slippers very good to wear in a boat when fishing, for this reason.

p. 16019.  Name some of the best catches you have made or know of.

I do not chronicle my catches, so can give no dates; but have had some fine catches within the past five or six years, principally on the Yare.  On one occasion, at Buckenham, with a friend, six stone [160] between 2.30 and 7 p.m.; another time upwards of five stone in about the same space of time, and numerous catches of from two to four stone in an afternoon’s fishing; also more than a bushel by measure one afternoon with a friend fishing in the dyke leading to Oulton Broad.  This was in the first week of September, 1879.

20.  What is the reason of the non-success of strange anglers which is so noticeable?

Ignorance of the general requirements of tackle suitable for fishing in our waters, and also of the modus operandi, one of the chief reasons being a want of knowledge of the right depth at which to fish, which could easily be known by simply “plumbing” the depth.  By way of instance, I have on several occasions found strangers fishing on the Yare in 12 or 14 feet of water, with their baits only about four or five feet below the surface, and at the same time wondering that anglers close by should be catching plenty of fish when they could get none.  Baits, too, are doubtless used which, although very good for some streams or waters, are of very little use with us.

p. 161N.B.—“When the wind blows strong and the waves roll high,” it is often very difficult to fish or even to detect a bite.  This is very tantalising, and not infrequently happens through a shift in the wind when you are in a capital “swim.”  The remedy for this is to put on a nice light ledger, with about three hooks, and with which excellent sport may sometimes be had when it would be impossible to fish in any other way.

In float fishing for roach, the bait should be just touching the bottom.  A good plan adopted by some is to fish with two hooks, the bottom one dragging on the bottom, and the upper one about three or four inches clear of the bottom.  This is an advantage in fast streams, as it retards the onward motion of the float, the bait is more easily taken, and the swims are not passed so rapidly.


1.  Where found at different periods of the year?

During summer, on the Yare, principally between Langley Dyke and Reedham; in winter often found in good quantity in the vicinity of Thorpe Broad and about Carrow and Trowse Hythe.  On the Bure they appear to congregate in the deep waters of the Broads in winter, and make their appearance about the end of May and through the summer on the river.

2.  Best periods to fish for them?

July and August.

p. 1623.  What time of day at different seasons?

Good catches of bream are often had in early morning.  I have, on the other hand, had capital sport by moonlight.

For further notes, see answer to same question on “Roach.”

4.  What depth of water?

The deepest waters and quietest eddies are, as a rule, the best; but I have caught large quantities of fine bream at Wroxham, on the Bure, in not more than four feet and a half of water.

5.  How affected by the tide?

Generally speaking, the most fish are taken from about half an hour before high water to half an hour after.  For further notes, see “Roach.”

6.  What ground-bait?

Boiled maize, boiled barley grains, barley meal made up into balls, chopped worms, boiled rice.  This latter and grains I have found very killing on the Bure.

7.  Are places ever baited beforehand?

Mostly overnight, where there is a fair opportunity of doing so.  This mode is very telling on Broads and other still waters.

8.  What baits are most successful?

For large fish at Cantley, Reedham, Somerleyton, and other deep swift waters, ledger fishing, with the tail end of a lobworm on the hook, is a capital bait.  Generally speaking, however, I have found “brandlings” the most p. 163killing, and have found a brandling with a gentle placed on the point of the hook will sometimes be taken readily when no other bait would be touched.  Red paste is often very killing on the Bure.

9.  What kind of rod?

Strong and stiff cane or hickory, 15 to 18 feet long, with a good stout top joint, on the Yare.  Shorter will do on the Bure.

10.  Number of hook?

The finest catch I ever had was with No. 12 hooks.  This was, however, in comparatively shallow water.  Should say that No. 7 or 8 would be very good sizes for bream fishing generally.

11.  Is running tackle advisable?

See “Roach.”

12.  Do you use gut or hair, and what kind of line?

See “Roach.”

13.  What kind of float?

See “Roach.”

14.  Is line heavily shotted?

In a similar way to that recommended for roach, but having the bulk of shot placed nearer the hook, it being necessary that the bait should “drag” the bottom.

15.  Is float best attached by lower end only?

As the bream bites more slowly and certain than the roach, this is quite immaterial.  I prefer float attached top and bottom.

p. 16416.  Do you strike at first dip?

A bream bite affects the float with a slight bobbing motion for a few seconds, he then runs off with it, and slides it down slantingly; strike as he runs off with the bait or the float is about to disappear, and you are sure of him.

17Are the fish much affected by change of wind, rain, thick water, etc., and is there any rule on this head?

Bream are rarely taken in any quantity when the waters are very clear.  See “Roach.”

18Is legering successfully practised for large bream, and what is the best modus operandi?

In such rapid waters as those at Reedham, Somerleyton, etc.—no other mode of fishing for bream can be practised with any success worth naming—ledgers for attaching to line may be purchased at any tackle shop at 1s. each, and the modus operandi is very simple, and by no means scientific.  The rod requires to be very strong and of fair length, and three or four rods may be used from one boat at the same time.

19.  Do you find that movement in the boat, noise, or loud talking frightens the fish?

Bream are very sensitive to noise, especially knocking in the boat, which invariably sends them off for an indefinite period, and should therefore be most carefully avoided.

20.  Name some of the best catches you have made or known of.

p. 165About ten years ago, had, in company with a friend, a catch of 17 stone in one day on Wroxham Broad, and with only one rod each.  Have heard of many catches from time to time of from 4 to 10 or 12 stone, but am unable now to give names or dates.

21.  What is the reason of the non-success of strange anglers which is so noticeable?

See “Roach.”

N.B.  In fishing for bream, the bait should always drag on the bottom.


It will have been gathered from the foregoing pages that the Rivers and Broads of Norfolk and Suffolk present exceptional facilities for small-boat sailing and smooth-water yachting, better, perhaps, than any other part of England.  There are two yachting clubs, the Norfolk and Suffolk Yacht Club and the Yare Sailing Club, the latter a very flourishing institution, furnishing four or five regattas in the year for small 4-ton yachts and open boats.

There are numbers of suitable yachts for hire, but, owing to the frequent changes of ownership, it is not practicable to give a list of those who have boats for hire, which would be of any use.  Enquiry at the inns at Oulton, and advertisements in the Yarmouth and p. 166Norwich papers will generally elicit suitable answers.  Bullen, of Oulton, is a likely man to have a yacht to let.  Open sailing-boats with awnings to sleep under, and small cabin yachts of four to ten tons, can be obtained of Loynes, Wroxham; and comfortable craft they are.  The awnings of the small boats are waterproof, and most ingeniously constructed, and the boats can be rowed or sailed anywhere.  Loynes may be trusted to provide everything that is necessary for comfort, and his yachts and boats are largely patronized.  They are all rigged Una fashion, with one sail, and are very easily managed.  Canoes and rowing boats are in plenty at the riverside, at Norwich, Yarmouth, and Oulton.

As before stated, the goods traffic on the river is carried on by means of sailing craft of from 20 to 70 tons burthen, called wherries.  These are long, shallow, graceful vessels, with an enormous mast, supporting one enormous sail.  The sail is spread by a long gaff, but there is no boom.  There is only one halyard, and the sail is hoisted by means of a winch at the foot of the mast.  There is no rigging to the mast except the forestay, which is mainly of use for lowering the mast, the latter being balanced on the tabernacle by a ton and a half of lead on its heel, so that it is raised as easily as it is lowered.  These wherries sail very fast, very close to the wind, and are often managed by one man.  Yachts built on the wherry plan are very comfortable craft, and easily managed.

p. 167Wherries are frequently hired by private parties, the hatches are raised a plank or two higher to give greater head-room, the clean-swept hold is divided into several rooms, and a capital floating house is extemporized.

There is now quite a fleet of permanently-fitted pleasure wherries on the rivers, which have ample accommodation for a party or family, and are to be hired at from 8 to 15 guineas a week.

A good way of seeing the rivers, if you have no boat, is to give a wherryman a small sum to take you with him when he makes a passage.  There are always numbers of wherries leaving Norwich and Yarmouth, and if you hail the one you fancy, you will be readily taken on board.  Thus you might sail from Norwich to Yarmouth one day, up to Wroxham the next, back to Yarmouth and up to Beccles, at an expenditure of half-a-crown a day and refreshments.  I am sure that visitors to either Yarmouth or Lowestoft will do well to avail themselves of this suggestion.

The navigation is controlled by Acts of Parliament, but pleasure yachts are exempt from tolls, except, of course, at locks and Haddiscoe lift bridge.

The rule of the road is very strictly adhered to by the wherries and local yachts, and necessarily so; but it is a point of honour not to harass business wherries if it can be avoided, as these are sailed for a livelihood, while yachtsmen sail for pleasure.  Therefore, if there is a doubt, give the wherry the benefit of it.

p. 168It is also a point of prudence not to cross a wherry’s bows too closely, as they would soon smash up a yacht.  If you are civil to a wherryman he will be most civil to you, and don’t slang him if he doesn’t at once give way for you to pass him.

The following racing regulations of the Yacht Clubs simply epitomise the custom and practice on the rivers, and must be adhered to:

“That if two yachts be standing for the shore of any river or broad, and the yacht to leeward be likely to run aground or foul any bottom or bank, or not be able to stay without the windward yacht running foul of her, the windward yacht must be put about upon being hailed by the member of the Club who may be in charge of the leeward yacht; the yacht to leeward must also go about at the same time as the yacht she hails.

“That in sailing to windward the yacht on the port tack must give way to the yacht on the starboard tack, and in case of collision, the owner of the vessel on the port tack shall be liable to pay all damages that may occur, and forfeit all claim to the prize.

“That any yacht bearing away or altering her course to windward or leeward, provided there is no obstruction to prevent her keeping her course, thereby compelling another vessel to go out of her course, shall forfeit all claim to the prize.  In running before the wind, the side the leading vessel carries her main boom is to be considered the lee side.

p. 169“A yacht overhauling another may pass to windward or leeward; and when near the shore or shallow water, or when rounding any mark, flag, or buoy, if the bowsprit of the yacht astern overlap any portion of the hull of the yacht ahead, the latter must immediately give way and allow the former to pass between her and such shore, shallow water, mark, flag, or buoy; and should any yacht not give way or compel another to touch the ground, or to foul any mark, flag, or buoy, the yacht so compelling her shall forfeit all claim to the prize, her owner shall pay all damage that may occur, and the yacht so compelled to touch such mark, flag, or buoy shall not in this case suffer any penalty for such contact.

“It is an established rule, and should be most strictly attended to by all yachtsmen, that where two vessels have to cross each other on opposite tacks, the one on the starboard tack must invariably keep her wind, and the one on the port tack must keep away and pass to leeward, or tack short when the smallest doubt exists of her not being able to weather the other.  All expenses of damage incurred by vessels on opposite tacks running on board each other, fall upon the one on the port tack; but where the one on the starboard tack has kept away with the intention of passing to leeward, and they have come in contact, the expenses of damage fall upon her on the starboard tack, because by her keeping away she may have prevented the other passing to leeward.  When a vessel on the starboard tack sees another p. 170attempting to weather her, when it does not seem possible, rather than keep away, she should put her helm down, for the less way vessels have when they come in contact, the less damage they will sustain.  Should both vessels put their helms up and run on board each other, the most fatal consequences may arise, and therefore nothing should induce the vessel on the starboard tack to keep away.  All vessels going free must give way to those on a wind.”


This district is well worth a visit in the winter time, for the wild-fowl shooting on the tidal portions of the rivers is free (of course you must not trespass on the marshes for shooting purposes, as the shooting along them is strictly preserved).  The usual plan is to row along the river while your dogs work through the reeds on the bank inside the river wall, or embankment, which generally runs parallel with the rivers on each side.  Flight shooting is also successfully pursued, but of course you must obtain information as to the best spots in the line of flight.  Oulton Broad is free, but is much shot over.  Breydon Water is a capital fowling-ground in hard winters.  It is the “happy hunting ground” of Yarmouth gunners.  An easily managed sailing-boat of light draught is useful for this kind of work.

p. 171Winter time on the Broads is very enjoyable.  Being so shallow, the Broads are soon frozen, and the skating is then simply superb.  Fancy Hickling, a lake of 400 acres, safe all over, with the ice as clear and hard as glass, and plenty of “elbow-room” for ice-boats as well as skaters.

It would be worth while for skating parties to come down for a few days at a time while the frosts last, instead of struggling amid the crowds which beset London waters.


I cannot do more than cursorily mention the abundant life which teems amid the Broads.  I would refer the reader, for a full account of the life of the Broads thirty years ago and now, to that charming book, worthy to be ranked with “The Complete Angler,” and “The Natural History of Selborne,” “Observations on the Fauna of Norfolk, and more particularly on the District of the Broads,” by the Rev. Richard Lubbock, M.A., a new edition of which, with suitable notes by Mr. Thomas Southwell, has lately been issued by Messrs. Jarrold and Sons, London and Norwich.  This book, together with Stevenson’s “Birds of Norfolk,” are necessary companions to the ornithologist on the Broads.  For a fuller general descriptive account of the district, I may also refer the reader to my own larger book, “Norfolk Broads and Rivers,” published by Blackwood.

p. 172Of course, water-fowl predominate.  The heron, the great-crested grebe, the coot and water-hen are constantly to be seen.  Dabchicks abound in places.  I have seen a score together in some open water, at Surlingham, during a frost.  Kingfishers are seen occasionally; water-ouzels never in the navigable waters.  Wild ducks, widgeon, teal, and other ducks, gulls, terns, and waders of many species, hawks, kestrels, marsh harriers, and hen harriers are occasionally met with, particularly about Hickling.  Owls, reed wrens, reed buntings, and bearded tits (I know a colony of the latter), and other birds occur to me as I write, but detailed lists of the Norfolk species will be found in the “Transactions of the Norfolk and Norwich Naturalists’ Society” of past years.  It is sufficient to say that not only in the department of ornithology, but of entomology and botany, the specialist will find abundant work.  During the days and nights I have spent in the more secluded parts of the waters, and particularly in the very early hours after daybreak, I have watched the habits of certain rare species, and discovered their haunts, which I would not reveal for anything, for to do so would be to expose them to the ravages of collectors.  I am not a collector myself, nor have I the remotest pretension to science, but I am an enthusiastic student of what I may call the “home-life” of birds and animals.  Therefore I cannot give accurate scientific information, in the shape of lists of Broad species without borrowing from the labours of others, p. 173and the clothing the dry bones with flesh would require more space than a guide-book will allow.  But let a man lie in a boat, amid the reeds, for an hour of the silvery dawn, and watch a pair of great-crested grebes, feeding their young ones with small fish, and teaching them to dive and catch fish also, all so close that you might at times touch the birds with a fishing-rod, and he will partly understand what to me is the charm of Natural History.  And for the romance of it there is no place like the reed-surrounded Broad and its marshy borders.


[29]  This bridge was the scene of a most disastrous railway collision, in September, 1874, when two trains met, and an appalling loss of life resulted, 25 persons being killed, and 60 or 70 injured.

[70]  [Note.  This is left as first written, but it is necessary now to say that since the death of Mr. Chamberlin, the owners of the Broad have obtained a decision in the Superior Courts that the public have no right to fish on Wroxham Broad, and although the navigation question has not been raised, the owners claim the Broad to be private property.  At the same time they courteously disclaim any intention of closing the Broad to the reasonable enjoyment of the public.  Sailing on the Broad is freely permitted, but yachts are not allowed to moor there at night, on account, it is said, of the unavoidable refuse floating against the private pleasure grounds of the owners.  Persons also are not allowed to land.  It is to be hoped that the good behaviour of the public will remove all idea of closing the Broad to the public, which would be nothing short of a calamity.  The regattas on this Broad which used to be such sources of amusement, have been quite discontinued, partly on account of the difficulty in getting the present racing craft up the North River, and partly through the reluctance of yacht owners to ask the favour of sailing where they formerly supposed they had a right.]

[91]  Sometimes called Wannick, or Wandyke, said to be a corruption of Swandyke.

[160]  Stone = 14 lbs.