ONCE upon a time ferries were a big deal on the Broads. Most carried just passengers, a few so-called “horse ferries” could carry horses and carts too. Gradually they fell by the wayside so that by the mid-1990s only Reedham Ferry remained. But now there’s a new kid on the block down on the Waveney. Or rather an old kid re-incarnated. An ancient ferry route from Burgh St Peter to Carlton Marshes was reinstated this May – after a 60-odd year interlude if this newspaper article, has got it right.
At which point even Broads fans can be forgiven for thinking Burgh St Where and Carlton what? This map might help. (Click on it to bring it up full frame.) We’re talking about the stretch of the Waveney which suddenly rears northwards after a sedate journey east from its source near the Lophams. As it turns steadily anti-clockwise it leaves a virtual island on its Norfolk bank. Burgh St Peter is the village at the extreme end of that bulge, while Carlton Marshes on the outskirts of Oulton Broad lies directly opposite. It’s the kind of “peninsula” that deserves its own name. The Burgh Bulge perhaps. In fact I’m going to coin that now. The Burgh Bulge, pass it on
Thanks to this new ferry, anyone cycling from the Norwich area to Lowestoft has a third route to consider - the others being on the A146 and via Haddiscoe. But there’s really no contest. Travelling through the Burgh Bulge is just so much quieter, mainly because it really is the road to nowhere. The only problem at the moment is what greets the cyclist on the other side of the river. You’re on a narrow footpath along the bank followed by a track across the marshes. Neither are really suitable for a road bike. Bored, I got on the saddle half way across and then had plenty of time to contemplate the error of my ways as I fixed a puncture two minutes later. Hey ho.
But hats off to the Waveney River Centre for investing the time and money in this project. It’s not just weekends or in the summer. It’s a dawn to dusk, seven days a week job, throughout the year. It will only get more popular as the word spreads. Alan was my ferryman. Thank you sir for the ride.
* I paid £2 single, a return is £3. More details here.