Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Head of Navigation Challenge 2012

Last year I decided to row to the heads of navigation of all the rivers of the Broads and to visit all the navigable broads.

It's taken until 17th July this year to tick more broads and heads of navigation off the list, but yesterday Lynne and I launched Cherub at Rockland St Mary slipway. The slip belongs to the local charity. Key for the locked gates, from the first house up the hill, costs £2 for launch and recovery within 24 hours, which is very modest. The charity also maintains a free parking area.  I understand that the fee will rise to £3 next year.
Getting the trailer on and off the slipway is not easy, because of its proximity to the road, but launching from the concrete ramp is straightforward. The New Inn is another attraction, which we were unable to enjoy on this occasion.

From the staith, with its free 24 hour moorings, a narrow dyke leads to Rockland Broad. We followed the buoyed channel to the left entering the river Yare near on old pumping house. Turning upstream we  rowed into a moderate headwind, encouraged by the thought of sailing back later in the day; we had brought the mast and sail with us.

With Strumpshaw Marshes to the north and Surlingham Marsh to the south there was not a building or person to be seen, with the exception of an occasional naturalist visiting the Mid Yare Valley Nature Reserve.

At Brundall, the riverside development encroaches on the natural scene. Notice boards, bungalows and marinas occupy the north bank. To the south, Coldham Hall PH and two weatherboarded boat sheds are less obtrusive. Beyond the boat sheds a narrow dyke takes you to the seclusion of Surlingham Broad and there, amongst the waterlilies and dragonflies, we dropped the mud weight for a picnic lunch in the intermittent sunshine.

On the return journey we raised the mast and sail once back in the main river, but a gusty beam wind prevented the leisurely passage that I had anticipated.

Two more broads visited and a section of the river Yare from Surlingham to Rockland navigated. Frustratingly the section from Paddy's Pump to Surlingham Broad remains for another occasion to complete the upper reaches of the Yare.

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