Broads on the Broads +1

Nine recreational club members from Christchurch rowing club (CRC) spent a glorious weekend over 12-13 June sculling 32 miles in touring quads on the Norfolk Broads – eight women and Peter XXX (the excellent plus one).

On what was one of the best weather weekends so far with temperatures soring into the mid-twenties, the recreational rowers fought their way through six hours of heavy Friday traffic. Everyone, it seemed, was heading for the Broads (not us broads I hasten to add). Arriving only just in time for dinner, we had one of the best curries ever at the Merchant of Spice in Norwich. We were careful, for obvious reasons, to avoid the spicier end of the menu!

Having met the other crews from Runcorn, Oxford, Broxbourne and London on the Saturday morning while rigging up the touring boats, CRC boated two crews from Wroxham (the chip centre of the Norfolk Broads):

The heat was on (literally as factor forty plus was being applied liberally all over the place) as we picnicked at Horing amongst the biggest collection of geese ever. Despite the heat we had been warned not to splash water on our faces from the Broads because the risk of Viles disease, so we just soaked up the sun on the afternoon voyage into Barton Turf. A sizeable feast fit for Kings was enjoyed under canvas in the fabulous Recruiting Seargent, Horstead.

One of the main challenges for us throughout the weekend was getting the bulky touring quads (and us) in and out of the water which was a couple of feet below the decking. It involved turning the oars back to front in the riggers and some very tricky maneuvering.

The coxes also threaded the eye of the needle by guiding the boats under some very narrow bridges. And, as beautiful as the Broads undoubtedly are, we were amazed at how packed the waterways were. We often had to fend off (get it?) marauding, beer swigging stag-do boats and day trippers more interested in selfie videos than water safety. At one particularly snaking section of water the skipper of a particularly wide-bottomed boat tried to help his girlfriend get a better video-selfi by swinging wide around the bend, totally unaware that in doing so his bow-end swung out and pushed our boat into the reeds. We should have taken the opportunity at this point to do some close-up bird watching – but we were twitching for entirely different reasons.

Talking of which, Phoebe performed the role of both cox and wildlife guard in her boat, showing the crew all manner of beasties along the way. While we were batting away the tourists, they managed to spot oyster catchers, cranes, marsh harriers, terns, swallows and of course the ubiquitous and necessarily very spritely ducklings.

On the Sunday afternoon, with temperatures at their highest, we were fortunate to enjoy the final leg of our Broads tour to Hickling in peace, as nearly all the tourist boats had stopped for the England footie match against Croatia. With at least a five-hour journey ahead of us, we relaxed and took in the beauty of the Broads over a final cuppa. A fitting end to a glorious weekend for the broads (plus one) on the Broads.

(The rowers were Tufty Hawkins, Su Ponsford, Fiona Walton, Peter Tyson, Kasia Lawrence, Sharon Ingram, Rebecca Ingram, Emma Moran, and Phoebe Prock. The woman on the right is Kate Belger from Cambridge who completed the 2nd crew.)

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