Whispering Reeds is situated at the North end of Hickling Broad, just outside Hickling
village. If you can find Hickling village, just off the A140 between Stalham and
Potter Heigham, then follow the signs for The Broad. We're next door to the Pleasure
Boat Pub, you're looking for a big green boat shed with a blue flag on the roof.
We have ample car parking, toilets and showers on site, a sheltered area where beginners
can learn the ropes before heading off onto the largest of the Norfolk Broads. Hickling
is a national nature reserve with an amazing abundance of wildlife, one of the few
places where you might see Bittern, Swallowtail Butterflies and Otter all in a days
We often suggest people venture up Catfield Dyke as part of a 3 hour paddle. After
getting the hang of steering the boat and feeling comfortable on board whilst in
the confines of the yard, venture out onto the Broad and follow the right hand bank
as you make your way down, well away from any boat traffic. You can explore the
inlets and dykes that you pass as you head towards Catfield Dyke, and then cut the
corner that the bigger boats have to go around, before heading up the long straight
dyke to Catfield Staithe.
This is a mile or so long and never more than about 20feet wide, so the reeds and
trees are close by. You'll be amazed by the peace, quiet and huge abundance of wildlife
on this sheltered stretch of river. The beauty of the canoe is that the wildlife
doesn't hear you coming, so you can have some magical close encounters with all sorts.
Depending on your speed, you may find when returning from the end of the dyke that
you have a bit of time left to explore some more of Hickling Broad, otherwise head
back to the yard before taking a short walk around to the Pleasure Boat Inn for a
cold drink and a chat about what you've seen.
Six hour paddle
In a six hour paddle you can reach the Staithe at Horsey for an ice cream and a trip
up the windpump for an outstanding view over The Broads. This is a longer trip and
probably not for people trying canoeing for the first time, but if you've paddled
before it's well worth the effort. You'll start by heading across Hickling Broad.
If you're feeling confident then you can go straight over the middle, otherwise there
is always the option of hugging the bank as you go around, before you know it you'll
be into the river and heading down past Whiteslea Lodge, owned by the Cadbury family,
and towards Meadow Dyke, the turning for Horsey Mere. Once you reach this turn you'll
head down a winding reed fringed dyke, every now and again catching a glimpse of
the windpump which marks your destination across the Mere.
A few years ago Marsh Harriers were a rare sight in the UK, now the Hickling and
Horsey area has a population so large that you'll be hard pressed to miss these amazing
birds of prey soaring around and quartering the reeds looking for their prey. Meadow
Dyke will pop you out onto Horsey Mere, and you just follow the right hand edge of
this patch of open water until you head up to the Staithe.
You'll find toilets, a national trust tea shop which sells excellent tea cakes, and
of course the windpump which you can climb up to see the sea to one side, and across
the broads on the other. Once you've had a rest and enjoyed your tea cake or ice
cream, just head back the way you came and use any spare time you have left to explore
Hickling Broad itself.