guest house norfolk broads
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For many years the broads were regarded as natural features of the landscape. It was only in the 1960s that Dr Joyce Lambert proved that they were artificial features, the effect of flooding on early peat excavations. The Romans first exploited the rich peat beds of the area for fuel, and in the Middle Ages the local monasteries began to excavate the peat lands as a turbary business, selling fuel to Norwich and Great Yarmouth. The Cathedral took 320,000 tonnes of peat a year. Then the sea levels began to rise, and the pits began to flood. Despite the construction of windpumps and dykes, the flooding continued and resulted in the typical Broads landscape of today, with its reed beds, grazing marshes and wet woodland.
The Broads have been a favourite boating holiday destination since the early 20th century. The waterways are lock-free, although there are three bridges under which only small cruisers can pass. The area attracts all kinds of visitors, including ramblers, artists, anglers, and bird-watchers as well as people "messing about in boats". There are a number of companies hiring boats for leisure use, including both yachts and motor launches. The Norfolk Wherry, the traditional cargo craft of the area, can still be seen on the Broads as some specimens have been preserved and restored.
Ted Ellis, a local naturalist, referred to the Broads as "the breathing space for the cure of souls".
A great variety of boats can be found on the Broads, from Edwardian trading wherries to state-of-the-art electric or solar-powered boats.
The Broads largely follows the line of the rivers and natural navigations of the area. There are seven navigable rivers, the River Yare and its (direct and indirect) tributaries the Rivers Bure, Thurne, Ant, Waveney, Chet and Wensum. There are no locks on any of the rivers (except for Mutford lock in Oulton Broad that links to the saltwater Lake Lothing in Lowestoft), all the waterways are subject to tidal influence. The tidal range decreases with distance from the sea, with highly tidal areas such as Breydon Water contrasted with effectively non-tidal reaches such as the River Ant upstream of Barton Broad.
The broads themselves range in size from small pools to the large expanses of Hickling Broad, Barton Broad and Breydon Water. The broads are unevenly distributed, with far more broads in the northern half of Broadland (the Rivers Bure, Thurne and Ant) than in the central and southern portions (the Rivers Yare, Waveney, Chet and Wensum). Individual broads may lie directly on the river, or are more often situated to one side and connected to the river by an artificial channel or dyke.
Besides the natural watercourses of the rivers, and the ancient but artificial broads, there is one more recent navigation canal, the lock-less New Cut which connects the Rivers Yare and Waveney whilst permitting boats to by-pass Breydon Water.
There is also a second navigable link to the sea, via the River Waveney and its link to Oulton Broad. Oulton Broad is part of the Broads tidal system, but is immediately adjacent to Lake Lothing which is itself directly connected to the sea via the harbour at Lowestoft. Oulton Broad and Lake Lothing are connected by Mutford Lock, the only lock on the broads and necessary because of the different tidal ranges and cycles in the two lakes.
In the lists below, names of broads are emboldened to help distinguish them from towns and villages.
The Broads are Britain's largest protected wetland and are home to a wealth of wildlife, especially birdlife. Amongst the waterfowl: Mallard, Coot, Moorhen, Great Crested Grebe, Greylag Goose, Canada Goose, Egyptian Goose. Larger birds include Grey Heron, Cormorant, Kestrel, Sparrowhawk and Bittern.
The scarce Cetti's Warbler breeds in the Broads, and Britain's only breeding Common Cranes are found in the area.
Among the rare insects are the Norfolk hawker, a dragonfly and the Old World Swallowtail butterfly (Papilio machaon subsp. brittanicus). Some of the broads are surrounded by fens, i.e. reed and sedge beds. Norfolk reed from the broads has been a traditional material for thatching houses.