Thursday, 12 September 2013

Traditional visit south

Well, it’s that time of year again, when we travel “south” for a couple of weeks on the beautiful southern rivers of the Norfolk Broads.  It’s becoming a bit of a tradition and we look forward to it.

We travel down one weekend and back two weekends’ later. This year the low tides were at slightly awkward times for us, being very early morning or early evening.  It meant either an early start or a shortened journey the other side of Breydon Water.  After some discussion, we opted for the early start but decided to travel halfway on the Friday evening, to leave at 04.45 to do the rest of the journey, aiming to go through Great Yarmouth around 06.30!!

We arrived at Lady Louise early Friday evening, in pouring rain and having loaded enough stuff for a siege, set off.  As we travelled down the River Bure, the rain cleared through and, although there were still large black clouds around, it became a reasonable evening.

Travelling at the maximum allowed speed limit we reached Stracey windmill just on dark and quickly moored up away from other boats so as not to disturb them with our early start.  Supper, a glass of wine and early to bed which meant, of course, that I couldn’t sleep!

I managed to doze for a couple of hours until the alarm on my mobile phone buzzed at 04.15 and we struggled out of bed.  First job was the kettle, then have a look outside but it was still very dark!  Checking every five minutes it started to get light but the skipper wasn’t confident enough to travel safely until about 05.15.  When we set off, the sound of birds singing in the reeds was amazing – I should have recorded it.

I have to admit we did break the speed limit a bit on the journey down – our concern is not travelling against the tide but the height under the poxy bridges at Great Yarmouth.  However, there was a lot of mud showing at the sides of the river and the tide was still running out so we felt fairly confident.  The first height board read 10ft and we needed 9ft 3ins so we went through with no worries and turned by the new yellow post to head across Breydon Water.

(Photo taken on a previous trip I did in August, with a friend)

The sun was just coming up behind us and silhouetted Gt Yarmouth with Breydon Bridge looking quite spectacular.  The trip across Breydon was magical, almost flat calm with the glorious morning light reflected in the clouds.  Only a couple of other boats were making the crossing, going the other way to us.  Brilliant!

The trip up the Yare went without incident – not a lot of wildlife, or other traffic, about at this time of the day but some interesting clouds.

We reached Reedham Bridge, checked the height marker, which stated 11ft 3 ins under the bridge.  We needed 10ft 6ins with the radar arch up so had no worries so you can imagine our surprise when the top of our anchor light grazed one of the bolts in the underside of the bridge.  I leapt out on deck and watched with bated breath as we cleared the remainder of the bridge without touching – not sure if we were lucky enough to go between the remainder of the bolts or whether the bridge ‘slopes’ a bit but the height board is not to be trusted!!  We’ll make sure everything is lowered for our return journey!

We arrived at Cantley around 09.00, feeling as if we had been up for hours (which we had!), moored up and had a leisurely cup of coffee and late breakfast.  It was sunny, but very windy and one or two brave sailing boats were out.

We tidied up the boat then relaxed, watching the river cruisers arrive for the Cecil Howard Memorial Race the next day.  Quite nice to have a race named after you I think.

About 6.30 we strolled down to the Reedcutter pub and met up with some friends for a drink and chat before having supper, which was very good!  I couldn’t keep my eyes open by about 9.00 o’clock so we walked back to Lady Lou and crashed out.

Waking next morning about 07.30 we looked out to see the morning mist just clearing and the sun coming up to greet another good day.

There was plenty of activity on the moorings with boat owners preparing their sails and generally chatting with friends.  Friends visited us and the kettle was kept boiling for a couple of hours, on and off.

Eventually sails started to be hauled up the masts and the first set of river cruisers got ready for the start.  There were five starts to this race with a good entry and we enjoyed seeing them crossing the start line and heading off up river.

After a while, we decided to set off ourselves and see if we could catch them up and after a gentle cruise in the sun we caught up with the tailenders nearing Brundall and Coldham Hall, the finishing point.  The wind had dropped by then so the last leg was a bit slow but they all made it to the pub for lunch.

We motored on to Surlingham Broad and dropped our mudweight amongst the other boats enjoying the day but after an hour or so had to close everything up as a thunderstorm came through!   Around 5.30 pm we set off for Trowse, where we had been allocated a mooring for the week and were met by another great sunset.

Can’t wait for next weekend – the Yare Navigation Race!


  1. You've described this traditional voyage so many times that I can almost predict elements of it - the dodgy bridges, the tides, the pubs, the sailing boats - but you make it so different and engaging every time. And fabulous photos, as always.

  2. What stunning sky photos - absolutely gorgeous! What a pity the birdsong couldn't somehow be incorporated into the photographic experience (but then, it's probably a good thing to keep a bit of that special experience 'LIVE only!' If we could experience everything Nature has via a speaker or screen, we would never need to go out into the Real Thing...)


Better than a four-leaf clover!

Not one to promote myself, I do seem to be bringing my friends who sail a certain amount of luck these days.   Looking back over photos ...