THE MORE you look, the more you realise what a great city Norwich is for canoeing. While the websites might point you to the Broads or North Norfolk, I think the young Yare has got an awful lot going for it, especially on a stunningly beautiful October morning. I started at Lakenham, making use of a gap between houses on Old Lakenham Hall Drive. Heading upstream against a strong-ish current, the houses soon disappear on your right while the railway looms on the left. But in between is an undeclared nature reserve, full – this morning at least – of heron, cormorants, long tailed tits, jays and one particularly blue kingfisher. Later the rooftops reappear and you realise what great views the council houses of Theobald Road have across this valley. You then have to do a canoe version of the limbo dance to get under a very low railway bridge before shooting the spectacularly high Lakenham viaduct (pictured).
One of the many joys of canoeing is that unique “Access all Areas” feel. And from the viaduct onwards you are in country accessible to no-one but the landowners. Just me and two swans shared the stretch down to Harford Bridges, although two marsh harriers provided aerial support. Next time I’ll go in at Harford and try to make it to Cringleford. And then perhaps Cringleford up as far as Colney. For a river that essentially follows Norwich’s southern bypass, it’s amazingly serene.