An insider's guide to the county's best kept secrets
The kids have broken up, your annual leave is
approaching and the weather’s scorching- forget dreams
of owning your own swimming pool and cast your mind
to the ocean itself with endless water sport options
available to you in Norfolk this summer.
Norfolk has a thriving sailing community, the highlight of the
calendar being Brancaster Staithe's Sailing Week 11th-15th
August. Run by the sailing club, it’s a week of sailing suitable for
families and experienced racers alike, sailing several fleets including hawks, lasers, junior fleets and the highly competitive ‘Adult and Child’ mirror race. Open to Both members and non-members with race entry from £7.00, it’s a great week for anyone with a dinghy; the programme of social events for the evenings looks to be great fun too.
If you’d love to be sailing but haven’t yet got the knowledge, worry not. Norfolk Etc at Morston Quay will
take care of your every need. A great location sailing around the estuaries and harbour, it has the added bonus of being right by Blakeney Point, the wildlife haven for grey and common seal colonies as well as terns and other rare birds. Combine a pleasure charter with learning to sail; this friendly family run business is helpful, professional yet personal, adapting their approach to meet the varying knowledge and ages of their crew. Tiny tots aged 4-6 years can enjoy an ‘adventure sail’- £58 for four hours- where they can steer the boat, pull the ropes, play pirate games and shout land ahoy!
A ‘start sailing’ course involves the fundamentals of preparing a boat for sail, wind awareness and effects of the tide, whilst a ‘basic skills’ course teaches rigging and rope work, capsize recovery and aerodynamic theory. For the more advanced there’s sailing with spinnakers and
performance racing as well as development and cruise days- all courses
are Royal Yachting Association approved. With several boats to choose
from- laser picos for the youngsters through to the rugged and stable
Norfolk Oysters made by Neil Thompson in Glandford – there’s a boat,
a course and a day out that’s perfect for you. You don’t even need to
swim; they can work round that. There’s something so magical about
sailing; it’s such a peaceful pursuit. A sense of leaving your troubles on
land and fleeing from civilisation to be at one with the world. A bygone
era of mahogany timbered yachts and canvas sails can even be found at the nostalgic Hunters Yard in Ludham. Home to Norfolk’s Heritage fleet, they have 20 authentic 1930s living examples of traditional boat building at its best. Not only that, these yachts and half-deckers were built here in Norfolk and designed specifically for sailing in the unique waterways of the Broads. Take a two hour sail with an experienced skipper; take to the helm or sit back and relax; enter a slower pace of life where you’ve time to enjoy the natural world around you. This is a rare opportunity to step back in time to Norfolk 80 years ago.
Hunters Yard offers pleasure charters, group and private tuition, RYA qualifications, day hire and holidays
sessions for £39 or a full day course from £110. Who’d have known though that Norfolk was also a top surfing hotspot? I kid you not.
The coastline from East Runton, through Cromer, to Walcott is featured in all the major surfing guides and on the hugely popular Magic Seaweed website. East Runton in particular is the county’s premier spot because of chalk reefs that give definition to the sandbanks. There’s a good long shore drift at Cromer with exposed groundswells too but Bacton and Walcott are better at low tide when you can paddle over the channel to get to the break. Whilst at times the surf can be pretty
flat, at other times I’ve seen waves up to ten feet high. Glide Surf
School offer two hour lessons at the east side of the pier in Cromer
from April to the end of October where you can either learn the
basics or fine tune your technique. They also offer stand-up paddle
boarding (SUP) lessons; currently one of the fastest growing water
sports in the world. A great activity when there’s no surf and a
brilliant core strength workout. Two hour lessons from £27.50.
Keeping the kids amused
Surf Life Saving GB has an excellent idea of how to keep your kids occupied over the holidays offering invaluable teaching of beach and surf safety skills. For as little as £15 for a four hour session, children can learn how to bodysurf, dolphin dive, paddle a rescue board, identify rip currents and administer life saving CPR. They even receive a certificate at the end to enable them to progress onto the Nipper education programme.
Water sports accessible for all
Finally let’s not forget those with mental, physical and hardship issues that prevent them from enjoying the water. The Nancy Oldfield Trust makes adventure possible for all in Norfolk. Established in 1984 they are the only facility of their kind in East Anglia, welcoming 5000 visitors a year on day activity and residential stays accompanied by carers and families. Supervised by experienced RYA staff and volunteers they offer motor cruising, sailing, canoeing and fishing. When it comes to water-based activities, Norfolk really does have every angle covered.
This article was written for Norfolk on my Mind magazine's Summer 2014 issue: www.norfolkonmymind.co.uk
including five day tuition built in, all around the beautiful Norfolk Broads.
Canoeing and Wind sports
The Broads is a fantastic area for canoeing; many of the narrow backwaters are only accessible via such small watercrafts. It’s an extremely peaceful pursuit paddling down miles of undisturbed natural havens. The Canoe Man offers a whole host of guided tour packages including the elusive otter spotting which is sure to be a treat.
Further round the coast at Hunstanton you’ll find one of the most active windsurfing and kite-surfing communities in the country. Hunstanton Water sports do half day taster