One of the most unique and well-known areas of Norfolk (and there are plenty to choose from!) is the Broads National Park, an amazing man-made network of rivers, waterways, and canals which cover 125 miles and flows through beautiful countryside as well as picturesque towns and villages.
A name synonymous with this National Park is Herbert Woods; they’ve had a presence on the Broads for over 9 decades! Here’s their story…
Image: Potter Heigham bridge c.1919
The Herbert Woods boatyard started back in the early 20th century, when a young chap called – you guessed it! – Herbert took over his family’s boat-building firm, called Walter Woods & Sons. Herbert had been born into the family of boat builders and became an apprentice with the Norfolk Broads Yachting Company, which was at the time managed by his father Walter.
When World War One came around he was luckily spared from service due to a neck problem, and joined a big British agricultural machinery marker called Ransomes Sims & Jefferies, based in Ipswich, where he learned about aerodynamics and how to build aircraft.
Norfolk Broads Yachting Company went into administration so Herbert’s father bought the premises and asked Herbert and his brother to help with building the business. In 1922 Herbert designed and built a boat that completely revolutionised Broads cruisers: the ‘Speed of Light’, a much more manoeuvrable 34-foot boat that was quieter and drew less water than old models. She even had a built in fresh water tank which supplied the taps and the toilet – quite a new development! In fact, today every Herbert Woods cruiser bears the name ‘light’ to remember this model.
When 1929 came, and Herbert took over the company, he decided that that he would try and expand the company – and over the years that’s exactly what he did! He even created a six acre ‘Broads Haven’ at their base in Potter Heigham, which had everything you’d need for a boating holiday! Herbert Woods became one of the area’s favourite Broads boatyards and grew from strength to strength. Upon his death in 1954 the company was sold and it underwent many name changes…
Image: Herbert Woods Day Boat Hire
…until the current owners bought the company in 2010 and decided to reinstate its original name of Herbert Woods! Today the company continues to position itself at the forefront of Broads boating, with a huge fleet of cruisers – over 130 – with a great range of on-board facilities and specs. They’ve added some amazing new boats to their fleet including Starlight 24, Spark of Light, and Adventuring Light, and these new additions are perfect for visitors wanting to bring a touch of luxury to their boating trip!
There are lots of different berths to pick from as well as different facility levels, from the more basic to the luxurious. Some allow pets on board and some come equipped with DVD players - whatever type of boating holiday you fancy, there’ll be a cruiser for you!
Image: Waterside Cottages with Herbert Woods
Herbert Woods also hire out day boats, picnic boats, canoes, kayaks and fishing boats, as well as owning a great range of waterside cottages and apartments if you want to take to the water during the day only - plus Herbert Woods are offering 10% off for week-long waterside stay breaks during March & April, so you can enjoy a break for less in one of their wonderful waterside cottages or apartments. You can also combine your stay with a discounted day boat trip – they can seat up to 8 people so all the family can come along and explore the Broads from the water!
The Broads are open all year for walking and cycling, pub visits and boat trips, but the season really kicks off from April!
For more information on Herbert Woods check out their listing here.
Greater Anglia have Advance fares from £9 one way between London Liverpool Street and Norwich. Trains run every 30 minutes. Greater Anglia also serves Colchester, Ipswich and Diss on the Norwich line. Direct trains also run from Cambridge.
East Midlands Trains runs services from Liverpool, Manchester and Nottingham.
Flights into Norwich served from Edinburgh, Manchester, Exeter, Aberdeen, Jersey*, Guernsey* and Amsterdam.