A unique patchwork of rivers and lakes, the Broads is not – as was once thought – a natural landscape, but a result of intensive peat digging in the Middle Ages to provide fuel. The empty pits flooded, forming lakes known locally as broads.


When combined with the area’s natural rivers, they make up a network of more than 125 miles of navigable waterways, nowadays mainly used for recreation. Renowned for its biodiversity, the Norfolk Broads are home to more than a quarter of Britain’s rare species, from birds and butterflies to mammals and fish.

But you don't need a boat to discover Norfolk's wildlife-rich waterways and wild beaches. Our guide explores some of the best walks in the Broads, each with its own walking map and directions.

Learn more about Britain's National Parks

What is a national park, how many national parks are there in the UK, and where is the nearest one to you? Our guide to the UK's 15 spectacular national parks looks at the history of each, how to visit them, the best walking routes, and local wildlife to spot.
Beautiful lake surrounded by mountains

Broads walks


5.4 miles | 3 hours | easy–moderate

Horsey Windpump
Horsey Windpump at sunrise/Credit: Getty

Horsey’s pale sands and huge skies are evocative at any time of year. This 5.4-mile loop walk around the village of Horsey in the north-east of the Norfolk Broads National Park, runs alongside the North Sea and then inland through wildlife-rich marshland, before returning to the village pub.

The route
  • 8.7km/5.4 miles
  • 3 hours
  • Easy/moderate
Route and map
Horsey, Norfolk map

Halvergate and Berney Marshes

7.5 miles | 4 hours | moderate

The marshes are home to wigeon, shelducks and Bewick’s swans in winter
The marshes are home to wigeon, shelducks and Bewick’s swans in winter/Credit: Getty

This route takes you through rustling reed-bordered marsh tracks and along the flood banks of Breydon Water where wigeon, shelducks and Bewick’s swans winter.

Explore this a watery world of marsh and river that sparkles beneath wide-open skies with a 7.5-mile circular walk through Halvergate and Berney Marshes.

The route
  • 12km/7.5 miles
  • 4 hours
  • Moderate
Route and map
Berney Marshes map

St Benet's Abbey

6.5 miles | 3.5 hours | moderate

Old gate house of St Benet's Abbey
Old gate house of St Benet's Abbey, Horning, Norfolk/Credit: Getty

Once the home of wealthy monks, a famous knight and an industrious farmer, the lonesome relic of St Benet's Abbey now stands empty, save for the occasional crow, owl and wren.

Once you’ve had your fill of silence, enjoy a 6.5-mile circular trail through the Broads.

St Benet's Abbey walking route and map

Acle Bridge

2.8 miles | 1.5 hours | easy

An eager eye may spot otters in the Bure/Credit: Getty

This easy 2.8-mile walk winds through classic Broads countryside, returning along the Bude River to Acle Bridge.

Alce Bridge walking route and map

Hickling Broad, Norfolk

Mist sits over Hickling Broad/Credit: Getty

Explore the reedbeds and watery banks of Hickling Broad with a five-mile loop walk around Norfolk Wildlife Trust's Hickling Nature Reserve.


Hickling Broad walking route and map


Daniel Graham of COuntryfile magazine on a hike with wet hair and blue coat and hills in background
Daniel GrahamOutdoors editor, BBC Countryfile Magazine

Danny is the outdoors editor of BBC Countryfile Magazine, responsible for commissioning, editing and writing articles that offer ideas and inspiration for exploring the UK countryside.