A Day on The Broads with Herbert Woods

Fun on the Broads with Herbert Woods


This year to celebrate  their 90th anniversary Herbert Woods added the new Starlight 24 Picnic Boats to their day hire fleet.

It is the first new design of the original Picnic Boat designed by Herbert Woods in 60 years. So of course we felt it only right that we tested it out.

We picked a great day for it, the sun was shining, there was a nice breeze and we were ready for a fun day out on the water.

The original plan had been to head out under Potter Heigham Bridge and go towards Horsey, exploring the broads that end of the county. But the tide was too high for us to actually get the boat under the bridge though, so instead we put Neatishead in our sights.

Crew for the day
Crew for the day

What we thought of the Starlight 24 Picnic Boat

On board the boat there’s a toilet, fridge, gas hob, sink and all the glass wear, crockery and cutlery you need. You get given a map of the broads with approximate travel times and a safety briefing, as well as being shown how to use everything onboard.

We loved the Starlight 24, it was modern and comfortable. Easy to stear, which we put to it’s test with the tight mooring at Neatishead! As we were out on the Broads from 9am right through until 5.45pm with a toddler, having the bathroom and cooking facilities made it such an easy day out. One of the seats was even the perfect size for him to have a nap on.

Having a nap
Having a nap

L loves being on boats, but he’s really scared of noisy things at the moment, so we were so glad the engine of the Starlight 24 is nice and quiet.

It had a lovely outside area with seats where we watched for fish and even saw a shark, I didn’t see it personally but L assures me it was there.

Inside the boat you have loads of option with the split sliding canopy, having both parts open or just one, being able to just slide them part of the way back. It was perfect for us as the weather was lovely in the morning but a bit breezy, so you could just open one half to avoid the breeze. Later on when it got hot we had the canopy fully back and as we were heading back and it started to rain we could have it closed and turn the heating on. Perfect.

Canopy open
Canopy open

Where we went

The thing I love most about being out on the Broads is that you have to relax, you can’t help it. Time moves differently. You won’t go miles, you can’t. With the low speed limits you just cruise and take it all in. Somehow though it all goes so fast. The first time I looked at my watch it was 11.30am, we’dd been out for 2 1/2 hours but if you’d have asked me I would have said only 30 or so minutes had gone by.

Our day saw us head from Potter Heigham out to Neatishead for lunch, that took just over three hours. The plan was to then start heading back and stop at How Hill for a walk, but L was napping, so we went to South Walsham instead. Moored up for a little walk, not even into South Walsham itself as by this point it was already past 4pm, before heading back to the Herbert Woods Boatyard for 6pm when we had to have the boat back and we didn’t have much time to spare.

Boat Selfie
Boat Selfie

Our tips

When we’d been planning our day we honestly only anticipated being out until 4pm, maybe 5pm at a push. But we were having such a nice time that was never going to happen.

I would definitely recommend a whole day out on the Broads, it really opens up your options. A half day will take you to Ranworth and back with time for lunch but not much else.

We were always planning on a pub lunch but took plenty of drinks, there’s no drinking water on board the boat. Loads of toddler snacks. As well as bread and cheese in case we didn’t make it to the pub for lunch and so we had dinner options. There are plenty of shops on the Broads if you find you need something vital and Lathams at Potter Heigham stocks seemingly everything.

A picnic boat is definitely the way to go if you want be out for a whole day, just having a bathroom makes all the difference, a lot less planning required. It is also best if there are a few of you. We were a party of 4 adults and a toddler. We’ve previously been out on a day boat, which was great for a half day, but the picnic boat was a whole new level and definitely worth the extra money. L had room to run about a bit and play, all inside and safe. We all had space and were just really comfortable.

The Norfolk Broads
The Norfolk Broads

What you need to know

You can hire canoes, kayaks, day boats, fishing boats and the amazing picnic boats from Herbert Woods. Check out the website for a full list of prices.

Picnic boats cost between £140 and £200 for the day depending on season and whether you go for the new Starlight 24 or the Sheerline 24. Half days are also available.

The Norfolk Broads
The Norfolk Broads

The picnic boats seat a maximum of 10 people (and this would be comfortable).

You will have an amazing day The Broads are stunning, the Herbert Woods Staff are all so friendly and helpful, they will happily answer all your questions and are full of ideas of where to go for the day if you aren’t familiar with the area. The boats are comfortable and well equipped and not at all hard to use. We’ve found that even if you get into a bot of bother mooring, as we have done previously with significantly bigger boats, there is always another boater around who will help you out.

Disclosure – we were guests of Herbert Woods for the day but all opinions are my own.

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