Heritage and culture on the Norfolk Broads
It must be the mesmerising waterways and relaxing nature of this area that gives way to such an arty vibe. Then there's the heritage - of the Broads themselves (did you know they are man-made waterways created by peat digging?) - and the area...
The Broads have now, at last, been awarded full National Park status. It's not surprising when you take into account the value of its beauty and wildlife. But there's a lot more than meets the eye. This area is rich in all sorts of history. From boating to reed growing and thatching, and wind power to agriculture, there's a raft of stories to uncover.
The Broads is interlaced with windmills open for you to visit. Of the latter, highlights include the octagonal smock drainage mill Herringfleet Marshmill; Hardley Windmill - which has its sails turning on a regular basis; Berney Arms - which with 7 floors is the highest remaining working windmill on the Broads; Thurn Dyke Drainage Mill near Great Yarmouth; Stacey Arms Drainage Mill with its tearoom and shop; St Olaves Drainage Mill; and last but by certainly no means least, The National Trust's Horsey Windpump - which you can explore before settling down to some tea and cake.
Stately home wise, south of The Broads is Somerleyton Hall and Gardens with its much-loved 1864 yew hedge maze. You can explore the gardens of Raveningham Hall and Estate, and come Heritage Open Days in September, you can have a nosey inside too.
Then there are the multitude of medieval churches, all open for you to enter and explore perhaps whilst walking or cycling the area's many footpaths and cycleways. Don't miss St Benets Abbey, a monastery founded by King Canute in 1020AD.
Museums go hand-in-hand with rich history. Explore the Bungay Museum and then enjoy a potter and meal in the quaint town. At Stalham you'll find the Museum of the Broads, and at Strumpshaw Old Hall you can spend an afternoon at its Steam Museum. At How Hill, as well as the nature reserve and the Electric Eel boat trip, there's Toad Hall Cottage Museum. Fans of military history should pay a visit to the RAF Air Defence Museum at Neatishead near Horning, which tells a story from 1935 to the present day. Nor should they overlook Seething Restored WW2 Control Tower, which was home of the 448th Bombardment Group, USAAF from 1943-45.
This area is awash with talented artists and galleries. One of our favourites to showcase is The Two Rivers Trail, which follows the Ant and Bure rivers. With a calendar of events and an array of artists involved - spanning everything from jewellery and art to wood turning and alpaca wool crafts - it's an excellent art trail. Wroxham Barns is also a must, with a variety of shops celebrating local craftspeople and traders.
As well as a raft of photography, arts and crafts events and exhibitions throughout the year to enjoy, The Outdoors Festival each May provides an excellent chance to explore everything this area has to offer. Open Studios in May is also very much alive in the Broads, with lots of private studios and workshops to potter around.