Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Head of navigation challenge

To row to the head of navigation of the whole Norfolk Broads system and to cover all the intervening water including all navigable broads by oar power alone; that's the challenge.

Well you've got to start somewhere and JoJo has started this adventure from Cox's boatyard at Barton Turf, where there is a good slipway (£5) and the assistance of a hand winch.

The staff at Cox's are friendly and it is amongst the tidiest boatyards that I have ever visited. There are also clean and tidy conveniences, but you will need to get the entry code from the office. The same code opens the barrier to the slipway.
Barton Turf lies on Barton Broad, through which flows the River Ant. Three heads of navigation lie to the north: Sutton, Stalham and Dilham. In addition Old Lime Kiln Dike (or Old Limekiln Dyke as it appears on the OS map) enters the broad on its west side and this leads to Neatishead.

Sue and Ant joined Adrian and Lynne for the first expedition to cross Stalham and Sutton from the list, but not before experiencing a picnic tied up amongst the overhanging trees, which line both banks of the Ant.

The approach to Stalham is congested with moored motor cruisers, but the reward is to land at the Museum of the Broads, where JoJo felt at home amongst the other historic craft on show. But, there's more than just boats to see and the crew was particularly taken with the display of marine toilets.

Sutton is approached across Sutton Broad, wide, fringed with reedbeds and uncongested.

Old Lime Kiln Dike was next on the list and this was achieved on a baking 2nd October. This time Robin and Rosemary joined the crew. It was hot work, but a sumptuous picnic was the reward anchored in the shade on the south side of Barton Broad. Afternoon tea was served at the peaceful public moorings on the south side of the Dyke.

All that remained was Dilham to complete this section of the Broads and Julian and Paul joined Adrian for this outing on the following, windy, afternoon. Somehow we contrived to have a headwind both ways. Another warm day, with the temperature still 26 degrees when we got back to Cox's at 5.30.

The challenge continued on the 23rd October; another fine and breezy day. Adrian Stuart and Susie launched JoJo from the public slipway on Wroxham Broad. Despite the warning that it was not suitable for boats over 10 feet we had no difficulties, although the surface of the slipway was potholed. (parking ticket for car and trailer £5 from machine.)

Spotting a gap between the procession of racing cruisers we crossed Wroxham Broad and made for the River Bure. A right turn brought us comparative tranquility between its wooded banks and after just over half a mile we found the entrance to Salhouse Broad on the south side of the river. There were a few anchored cruisers, canoes for hire and a peaceful quay, but stern-to mooring is not for us. A short exploration up a shallow creek provided a picnic spot out of the wind.

Then back to the main river for a steady row to the entrance of Hoveton Little Broad, which is reached down a narrow cut. Tranquil and apparently remote, unless you look north to a row of uninspired detached houses, with grounds extending to the water's edge. No doubt each house commands a magnificent view over the broad, but sadly their architects had not considered the view from the broad to be as important. But, if you avert your gaze, Hoveton Little Broad is a good destination for a future picnic. Closed gates block the passage into Pound End, which is the western extension of this broad.

Onwards towards Horning and the riverside development increases, as does the river traffic. The tree lined banks are left behind and are replaced by chalets, pubs and boat yards. We arrived at the conclusion of a yacht race as river cruisers ran to the finishing line with topsails set.

Near Hobbs Drainage Mill we turned JoJo's bow west and commenced the return journey to Wroxham Broad.

Another successful day. Three broads visited and a lesson learned; remove the light board from the trailer before running it into the water!

26/10/11 Stuart's sons Alexander and James coxed Jo Jo to the head of navigation in the city of Norwich; New Mills. Stuart and I tried out a heavier set of sculls, which will go back in the shed.

02/11/11 Glorious November? A bright sunny day for the next outing. Adrian, Lynne and Dan launched JoJo at Wroxham Broad, remembering to remove the light board this time. A steady row into a headwind brought us among the attractive riverside properties of Wroxham. Under Wroxham Bridge, which is far more attractive from the water than the road and then a surprise, for me at least. Bridge Broad was not on my list of destinations, but that was soon remedied and having ticked it off, we continued between the attractive tree lined banks, with glimpses of Belaugh and Wroxham churches between the trees, we finally stopped for a picnic at a public mooring near Wroxham church, which is not shown on my OS map. Having sculled 3 miles on the water, we were within less than a mile of our starting place by road.

We turned for our starting place and with a following wind hoisted sail and ran until a bend in the river made sailing impossible.

Now you might be thinking that sailing was cheating, but we had already rowed over that section of river.

November 23rd. Adrian Andy and Katy crossed Trowse Mill, head of navigation of the river Yare, from the list. This section of the river, from Trowse Eye to Trowse Mill is little frequented. Reaching the head of navigation posed some coxing problems for Katy, with fallen trees and overhanging branches to negotiate.

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