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Review and Video of Bank Boats, The Broads, Norfolk

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Posted by Lucy Symons at 03:24 on Thursday 15 August 2013

Lucy Symons spends a day mucking about on the river in a canoe, watching an otter cavort and learns a great deal about the Norfolk Broads wildlife.  

>> Bank Boats is featured in our Greentraveller Guide to The Broads

Bank Boats, Norfok Broads photo: Lucy SymonsBank Boats, Norfok Broads photo: Lucy SymonsThe Setting
Nestled between the A149 and Wayford Wood is a spit of land that extends into the River Ant.  Jump into one of Bank Boats many canoes or kayaks and follow this river a few hundred yards and the drone of the cars begins to disperse and, as you pass under Wayford Bridge, and make your way on the disused North Walsham and Dilham Canal, you will be hard pressed to be aware of anything other than the gentle splash of the water and the comforting sounds of nature.

Watch our video of Bank Boats:

Tony and Mrs Tony have run Bank Boats for the past thirty years and are supported by enthusiastic water lovers who return year after year.  If you fancy a canoe or kayak trip or a day out in a more substantial boat, this is the spot for you.

I am a total novice, so Tony was seconded to accompany me as I made my way up the canal.  Mrs Tony gave me some excellent advice and went through all the safety patter I am sure is obliged by law, but with such a cracking sense of the ridiculous, I didn’t feel patronized or as though I was having anything other than a jolly chat with her.  Her local knowledge and enjoyment of the absurd is contagious. 

Canal View, Bank Boats with bridge photo: Tony UrwinCanal View, Bank Boats with bridge photo: Tony UrwinTony and I set off in search of the local wildlife.  I imagined I was paddling quite well, kneeling on the bottom of the boat in front of Tony, I was breaking a sweat and feeling quite pleased with myself.  The reality check came a little while later when I stopped paddling for a minute to shift my position and noticed that the gentle movement of the boat changed not a whit with only Tony paddling.  It was sort of like being accompanied by a very genial outboard motor for the morning. 

Soft spoken and reassuring, Tony gently pointed out the wildlife we were passing, the various birds and plant life, the fish and the red angus cows on the bank and chuckling his way through amusing anecdotes they brought to mind.  His knowledge of the flora and fauna is encyclopaedic, his calm patience is legend.  I had blithely asked to see an otter.  Tony explained what I needed to look out for and gently tried to temper my enthusiasm with the reality that otters are not totally commonplace here and you need to be jolly lucky to spot one.  But lucky I was, and we sat entranced as the chubby, lithe mammal swam along side us.  

Bank Boats blackboard photo: Lucy SymonsBank Boats blackboard photo: Lucy SymonsThere was a pike I spotted too, lurking underwater as we passed over it, at least the size of a submerged four year old.  It opened its mouth giving me a full view of its spikey gnashers arranged in an underbite that will haunt my mightmares for months to come and suddenly I felt rather vulnerable in my little boat, and jolly pleased to have Tony powering me on my way.

From this fabulous location, you have easy access to popular spots such as Hunset Mill, Stalham Staithe, Sutton Staithe and Neatishead. Longer Boat rentals can reach Ranworth Broad, Horning and Potter Heigham.  Open all year round, this is the perfect spot for a day of mucking about on the river.  I was sad to leave Tony and his wife and their stories of the river.  

How to get there by public transport
Train to Norwich and then take a bus to Wroxham and on to Wayford.  

>> Bank Boats is featured in our Greentraveller Guide to The Broads

Posted by Lucy Symons

Canal View, Bank Boats with lilies photo: Tony UrwinCanal View, Bank Boats with lilies photo: Tony Urwin

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Blogs posts categorised as 'Reviews' have been written with the support of one or more of the following: accommodation owner, activity provider, operator, equipment supplier, tourist board, protected landscape authority or other destination-focussed authority. The reviewer retains full editorial control of the work, which has been written in the reviewer's own words based on their experience of the accommodation, activity, equipment or destination.

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