Saturday, 5 February 2011

The Broadsketeers on tour

January saw John, Lee and Chris at the OS Outdoors Show at ExCel in London's Docklands in their guise as The Three Broadsketeers. We spent four long, hard days spreading the message about how wonderful the Broads National Park is and talked to loads of people about how to Discover the Broads at Clippesby Hall, so thanks to all those who took the time to stop and chat.

We stayed in a motor home on the other side of the Thames at a C&C club site in Abbey Wood, near Greenwich. Good site in a slightly less than salubrious location, good facilities, just a little too much tarmac for Chris our extreme camper.

Travelled into ExCel every day on the Docklands Light Railway, which surpassed our expectations. Great service, which bodes well for the Olympics in 2012. One tip for Boris though; sort the ticket checking arrangements out - we bought travelcards every day and despite going on into central London most nights, they were only checked once or twice during our whole stay!

Our stand at the Show was next to Simon King promoting his new online wildlife community Was great to see him there on the stand each day working hard, not just letting his team do the work. Shared our stand with Norfolk Tourism promoting all things Norfolk and TheCanoeMan a partner of ours in exploring the Broads and a great provider of canoe trails and bushcraft stuff.

Celebrity highlight of the weekend: Ben Fogle (without his pass) not being allowed entry to the Show, trying to convince the security girl he was a celebrity, in the end having to point to his photo on the poster hung next to her in order to get in!

Of course it wasn't all hard work, and after a tough day at the Show there didn't seem a better way to unwind than heading into central London, so many thanks to the Argyle Arms near Oxford Circus for fantastic real ales (amazing traditional pub with Victorian glass interior), the Wong Kei Chinese restaurant on Wardour Street near Leicester Square (one of Chris's old haunts from 25 years ago and still serving brilliant food in unpretentious surroundings and with unique service!) and various Indian restaurants on Brick Lane in east London (just an amazing place to visit).

The next date on the Broadsketeers Tour 2011 is the Outdoor Leisure Show at the NEC, Birmingham from 25th-27th February. Tickets available from Hope to see you there.

Saturday, 30 January 2010

The Broads at their finest

Earlier this month, the Broadsketeers set off on their first outing of 2010, canoeing from Thurne to Ludham Bridge and back. A splendidly fresh, bright blue sky, hardly any breeze and snow on the ground, with the canoe acting as an icebreaker as we put in at Thurne dyke. The river was so calm and quiet, with hardly any other craft around, I think we only saw two or three other boats all day. Brought it home how peaceful the Broads would be without any powered craft, or at least if all went electric - we'll comfort ourselves with the thought that it's got to happen one day. And of course the benefit from the lack of noise was that the birdlife was much more visible - marsh harriers, barn owls, all really close.
We made gentle progress along the river Bure, stopping at St. Benet's Abbey to take in the view. From the higher ground around the site of the old Abbey, the views of broadland are breathtaking. You can see back to Thurne with its white windpump, down river to Acle bridge, across to Ranworth and up the river Ant to How Hill. Without question one of the highlights of the Broads.

From here we paddled on to Ludham Bridge and wandered to the Dog Inn. Unfortunately, despite a decent pint of Wolf's 'Santa Paws', the pub itself was disappointing. Having started to improve over the past couple of years, it looked as though the current landlord had just given up, which is a shame. As the kitchen was closed for a 'deep clean', no food, so back aboard with just some crisps, stollen left over from Christmas and Tipple's 'Crackle' to keep us going on the return journey.

A further stop at St. Benet's, so that Lee could get all 'David Baileyed' while John got 'Crackled', before one final stop just before Thurne mouth to catch the sun heading down. This was a true Broadsketeers day, one of the best that any of us could remember.
If only more people could come and experience the tremendous power of the landscape at this time of year; its tranquility; abundant wildlife; huge skies with almost uninterrupted horizons in all directions. It is magical.

What a great day - can't wait for the next one. For more photos see our page on Facebook.

Friday, 13 February 2009

New Woodland Walks around Burlingham

Still on my own, but with improved weather last Sunday, I decided to walk some of the paths around Burlingham detailed in a new guide I found in Acle Post Office.

A lovely sunny day, although still bitterly cold, saw me set off on a circular walk to South Walsham from Acle, up Mill Lane (the off road section of which is in a shocking state - notwithstanding the mud, which can't be helped at this time of year, the landowner has dumped a load of hardcore including broken paving slabs, making the surface very uneven and not suitable at all for anyone unsteady on their feet).

I think these new paths are a great idea though, providing a different route to South Walsham and Burlingham, away from the river and/or the main roads, and they are signposted well - to start with. I had a few issues with the signs further on, but I did manage to find my way to South Walsham without too many problems.

Snowdrops in Burlingham Long Plantation

Into the Ship Inn for a quick pint of Tipple's Topper (not bad - a little lifeless). This pub has fairly recently re-opened and is now pretty much set up as a restaurant, with every table set for eating and the food a little on the pricy side. BUT, at least it's open and serving real ale - so no complaints.

As they had stopped actually serving food, I wandered round the corner to Fairhaven Gardens, for a bite in their cafe/tearoom. I hadn't been in since the new
building had gone up, and I think that while it isn't the most attractive from the outside, it is warm and welcoming inside, with a good range of light meals and snacks, especially for veggies such as me.

Walked back to Acle on the footpaths via Upton and Fishley church as the weather turned, but an enjoyable 8 miles, and was good to see Louise again at Fairhaven.

Monday, 9 February 2009

All for one.......and one left all on his own

With John and Lee away skiing, Chris has been the sole Broadsketeer out and about in the Broads this week..........

The main theme over the past week has been my other main hobby (although some people would probably call it almost a way of life for me now) of running. Last Sunday saw me, along with 230 other certifiable individuals, competing in the Reedham 10. This new ten mile race, based around the Broads riverside village of Reedham, meanders its course around Limpenhoe Marshes, Freethorpe and Wickhampton, before returning to Reedham. A bitter east wind and snow showers sent most of us rushing to add extra layers before frantically trying to complete the race without any bits freezing and falling off. I did manage a personal best time, even if that still meant me finishing well down the field, but it's the taking part that counts (isn't it?)

Celebrated with a post-run lunch at the Reedham Ferry Inn. Hadn't been there for a while, and on such a cold day, the roaring log fire went down a treat. Received a very warm and friendly welcome, good service and excellent food. The staff hadn't noticed that the Woodforde's Wherry was slightly sour and on the way out, but the Nelson's Revenge was great.

Tuesday saw Clippesby Hall (the campsite in the Broads where the Broadsketeers have their secret base) awarded best campsite in Britain by the AA, and a photographer from the local paper, the Eastern Daily Press, came along for some publicity shots. Taken just as the sun was starting to go down, we were interrupted by a large flock of geese flying over, probably on their way to Halvergate marshes. This has to be one of the most impressive sights in the Broads at this time of year, as they came over in their V formations, almost filling the sky.

There was a particularly lovely sunset that evening, and I managed a late run just before it got dark and despite the cold, the view down over the broad valley to the river Bure with the sun dipping down behind was magical.

Friday, 30 January 2009

Who are the Three Broadsketeers?

John, Lee and Chris are dedicated explorers of the Broads National Park located in Norfolk, England, and this is the story of our travels. We walk, bike and canoe our way around one of the most beautiful areas of Britain, a magical wetland with loads of hidden places waiting to be discovered.

We are passionate about gaining public access to as much of the land and waterways as possible in the peaceful pursuit of our aim - to Discover the Broads.

Join in with our adventures....more soon!