21.1.16

Norfolk Broads // The Highest Part of the Flattest Place



Pretty much everyone I know has heard of the Norfolk Broads in some way or another. Liverpool has it's docks, London has it's Eye, and Norfolk has its Broads. The Broads cut and slice their way through the Norfolk landscape with no particular rhyme or reason. It's a total labyrinth; especially considering that the hugely tall bulrushes block your line of sight further than a few feet at a time. For Norfolk, the Broads are like veins - lifelines - that once upon a time allowed the county to establish and thrive. David Bowie (RIP) even mentioned them in 'Life on Mars', so you kind of have to accept that their cool.

Well, I think they're just wonderful. I can't compare them to any other landscape I've come across before. It's like stepping out into some Pans Labyrinth-esque set; all pools of water, moss, thick reeds, creatures crawling through the undergrowth and warm wind rippling through the reeds. It's quite lost in time.





Although I am absolutely positive that I have been in and around the Broads during Summer, almost all of my memories are from Winter. Thick socks stuffed into walking boots, so many layers that you have to walk with your arms pushed away from your sides, mittens - one of which will inevitably be dropped and remain damp for the rest of the day.

I've also realised since editing these pictures and organising my photo files, that I'm a bit obsessed with moss?! I have dozens of moss pictures. Perhaps it's the concept of covering something rough with a thick layer of soft greenery. Like a blanket. I live in blankets. It all makes sense!





If you want to head to the Broads, Ranworth Church is a great place to pitch up and set off. 1. It's beautiful. 2. It looks like a classic 'this is where the couple marry at the end' Jane Austen church. 3. It has a bell tower that you can climb up. For real.

The church remains resolutely open. There is no man in a high-vis vest reminding you to watch your head on the very narrow and precarious spiral staircase. You just pop yourself along, use a bit of common sense, throw open a trap door at the top and get a beautiful view of the flattest land around. Oh, to own that house, it's sheep, it's fields, and it's view!


 
There are quite literally thousands of birds who call this place home, many of them rare and beautiful. In fact, 25% of the UK's rare species reside right here. Just call me David Attenborough... Ok, I'm on a fact roll now. Did you also know that The Broads were never really meant to be here? Back in Medieval times fellas dug big strips of land out and used the peat there for fuel. When all the pits accidentally flooded (that would have been an awkward message to relay back to your boss!), the Broads were formed.






Since revisiting, I have grand visions of hiring a boat in summer and chugging my way along the Broads for a few days, stopping at pubs for dinner and having picnics out on the deck. Oooo, perhaps I can get a little canal boat. And grow vegetables in tubs on the roof. Am I getting carried away with myself?! Probably...

If you'd like to see any other of my posts about Norfolk, have a little click through to here.

What's the strangest landscape you've ever come across?

Hope you're all having a super week!


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