Visit Hoveton Great Broad
Reopening! 14th August 2021
Come on an adventure to discover the real Broadland wilderness.
Open from April to October, the Hoveton Great Broad Nature Trail can be reached by boat and there are free moorings for visitors taking a trip down the River Bure.
The trail is staffed by Wardens 7 days a week throughout the summer season. Our Wardens provide information and insight into the wildlife and flora of the broads…just ask and they will be happy to tell you about the wonders of nature on this precious site and what makes it so special!
The trail is made of railway sleepers and is two sleepers wide. Whilst able to take narrower buggies, the trail is unable in its current form to accommodate wheelchair users.
No dogs except for Assistance dogs are permitted on the trail or the moorings.
The trail takes from 30 minutes to one hour to go around. Please keep the Broads special by following the advice given on the signs and notices along the trail.
History of the Trail
1949 was a big year for conservation in the UK. As the country continued to recover from the effects of World War 2, the wish to protect places of natural beauty for the well-being of the public as well as wildlife, gained momentum. “The Nature Conservancy”, the fore runner to today’s Natural England, was created and incorporated by Royal Charter. A few months later the 1949 National Parks and Countryside Act was passed.
In the following years, the identification of areas of the country that were of special importance to both the environment and the public took on a new dimension. The Broads were soon highlighted, and in particular the Bure Valley. Identified as an area worthy of protection in 1954, by the end of 1958 Hoveton Great Broad, Ranworth, Cockshoot and Decoy Broad – along with the wet woodland, reedbeds and fens that surround them – were designated as Bure Marshes National Nature Reserve.
Origins of the trail
We owe the creation of the Hoveton Nature Trail to conservationist, Dr Martin George.
Working with the National Nature Reserve, Dr George had a wish to explore what lay beyond the banks of the River Bure and it was this that led him to investigate the spit of land that surrounds Hoveton Great Broad. He was “absolutely fascinated” with the place he had found.
His vision was to create a path – not a boardwalk – that followed the natural twists and turns of the woodland, giving the public an opportunity to see beyond the busy river and instead see Hoveton Great Broad’s “great scenic beauty”.
Dr George laid out the route with the intention of highlighting particular features, including the broad itself, great tussock sedge, royal fern and the undisturbed wet woodland on the ‘island’ beyond Larkbush dyke.
In 1969 his vision became reality and Hoveton Great Broad Nature Trail was opened. Every year since, from April ‘til early October, the trail has attracted thousands of visitors and continues to offer a unique opportunity to see the habitats that inspired Dr George all those years ago.
Today, Natural England and the Hoveton Estate continue to honour his legacy by offering free public access in a way that preserves the undisturbed and “pristine” nature of the site.