The Wherryman’s Way is in the Broads, which is Britain’s largest protected wetland. The route passes through many nature reserves and Sites of Special Scientific Interest, a reflection of the rich wildlife diversity of the Yare Valley. Whether you are fortunate enough to see the rare and unusual, or experience the abundant and colourful, you will not be disappointed. Just as the first ‘tourists’ to the area in the 19th century discovered a remote and wild place, so you too can still find timeless, hidden places even today.
“The tranquillity and placidity of the landscape was marvellous – you might have heard a pin drop. The landscape seemed asleep, save where the smoke from the burning brick kiln floated lazily through the air shadowing an angler trudging home in the yellow splendour of the sinking sun.”
- P.H. Emerson, 1893 - a well-travelled, pioneering photographer and author.
Wherries and wherrymen
Wherries have been part of life in the Broads for hundreds of years. Before roads and railways, waterways were the main transport routes for trade and people. River trade – the ability to bring in raw materials and export finished goods – helped make Norwich England’s second city, during the 17th and early 18th centuries.
The earliest wherry-type vessel was the square-rigged keel, but by the beginning of the 19th century the most numerous craft was the wherry – single-sailed and specially designed for the shallow waterways of the Broads.
The heyday of the trading wherries was the 19th century when several hundred sailed the waterways, carrying all sorts of cargoes – stone, coal, bricks, timber, reeds and even ice.
“Both the skipper and his craft told their own story. It was one of long days and nights sailing in open and narrow waters; of innumerable loadings and unloadings at the crowded Norwich and Yarmouth quays; of a life lived in a perpetual round of weighing anchor and hoisting sail.”
- Anna Bowman Dodd, 1896 – an upper-class London lady holidaying aboard a pleasure wherry in the Broads.
Wherryman’s Way Circular Walks
There are 12 circular walks, all based around Wherryman’s Way, which run between Norwich and Great Yarmouth. Pick a walk and enjoy!
More information about Wherryman's Way circular and short walks.
Easy access opportunities
Paths suitable for wheelchair users and pushchairs can be found at Whitlingham, Rockland St Mary Staithe and Chedgrave Common – see the maps and website for details.
Tread lightly and safety
The Broads is a vulnerable wetland area – please respect the special nature of these habitats. Stay on waymarked paths and take litter home. Traditional grazing of cows and sheep still takes place on the marshes. Please keep dogs on a lead and shut gates behind you. Remember that according to the season you may encounter nettles and muddy conditions – please dress accordingly.
Most towns and villages and many of the places featured in this guide can be reached by public transport, so why not leave the car behind and explore the Broads by other means? For information about trains and buses contact Traveline on 0871 200 2233 or visit the Traveline website.
Train: Stations are located at: Norwich, Brundall, Buckenham, Cantley, Reedham, Berney Arms, Great Yarmouth.
Bus: Contact Traveline for journey information.
Cycle: There are miles of quiet country lanes and tracks to explore in this largely undiscovered part of Norfolk.
Riverbus: Why not do part of your journey by river and walk back? The Riverbus from Norwich stops at Whitlingham Country Park on a scheduled route. Telephone 01603 701701 or visit the City Boats website for information on sailings, prices etc.
Boat: There are free 24 hour moorings along the route and many pubs have customer moorings. Why not mix boot with boat to get a view of Wherryman’s Way from land and water?
Places to stay
For those wanting to do the whole route, accommodation along the way will be necessary. There is a campsite at Reedham Ferry and there are many small, independent B&Bs along the route to offer you a wonderful base for exploring the area.