A riverside estate with a thatched Edwardian study centre set in acres of marsh and woodland, with a cottage museum and restored mills.
An Introduction to How Hill
The How Hill Estate is a study centre with a fine large, thatched Edwardian house set in acres of reed, marsh, woodland and a small broad, together with a marshman's cottage, secret garden and three restored drainage mills.
The main role of the Estate now is to provide residential field courses for school children and young people (they try their hand at thatching and other crafts).
But the centre is also ideal for conferences and training activities as it makes a prestigious setting for presentations. The Edwardian house is not open to the public, but the rest of the estate is. This includes the marshman's cottage, secret garden, nature trail, boat trips through the reed beds and walks along the banks of the River Ant. How Hill is a wonderful place to spend a few hours, from exploring the extensive estate to having a picnic on the grass! Dogs are generally allowed around the How Hill Estate, but not on the Nature Trail, in the Museum and Tea Room.
We start our tour of How Hill at the Edwardian study centre, which is an impressive sight. The building was built in 1904 by the architect Edward Thomas Boardman as his family holiday home. It became a study centre in 1967, providing residential field courses for young people (to try their hand at thatching and other crafts). The house is surrounded by beautiful parkland, including a grassy field, ideal for a picnic or a group game. A tea room near the house offers refreshments (limited opening - weekends during the summer).
How Hill House
Study Centre at How Hill
How Hill House in Winter
The Parkland surrounding How Hill House
How Hill Tearoom (limited opening)
The Secret Gardens are open all year round and are situated at the end of a path that leads from the top of the hill, near the tea room (entry is free, but a donation is recommended). The original owner of the house, Edward Boardman, established the gardens around 1904. The garden was once a marsh, but it has been transformed into a garden sheltered by various trees (oak, sweet chesnut and hornbeam). Many exotic species of plant now occupy the garden, raised from seed by Boardman and his friends from around the world. The garden is great to visit at any time of the year, but it's highlight is late spring when the Rhododendrons are in full bloom.
The Secret Gardens at How Hill
Exotic Plants in the Secret Gardens
Wooden Boardwalk Paths
A view over the Secret Gardens
Waterlilly in the Secret Gardens
The tiny Marshman's cottage, known as Toad Hole Cottage, is a museum to illustrate what life was like for a marshman and his family, who around 100 years ago, would have lived in this cottage and made a living from the surrounding countryside. Inside, you will find a number of small rooms to explore, including climbing the tight stairs to see where the entire family slept. Entrance is free and the museum is open daily, Easter to October.
Toad Hole Cottage at How Hill
Inside Toad Hole Cottage
The Cottage Pantry
Part of the Cottage Bedroom
The Cottage Garden, feeding the family
Opposite the cottage is the entrance to a Nature Trail (small charge, payable in the cottage museum). The nature trail path takes visitors on a varied journey around the local countryside and includes a viewing hide, bridges and views over the reeds to a drainage mill.
How Hill Nature Trail
Wooden Boardwalks along the Nature Trail
Bridge over a dyke
View over the reeds towards a drainage mill
View from the hide
The River Ant flows past How Hill. This twisty picturesque river is heavily wooded and gets narrow in places, but is a wonderful stretch of the Norfolk Broads to enjoy your boating. The staithe at How Hill has recently been improved and is a great place to moor up, have picnic and watch the world float by. It is also the starting point of boat trips aboard the Electric Eel, a 50 minute boat ride through the reed fringed dykes not normally open to the public (boat trips during the summer months, tickets from Toad Hole Museum). A good path leads along the bank of the river and extends all the way down river to Ludham Bridge, about 2 miles away. The whole area is a great place for a walk.
A typical river scene at How Hill on the Norfolk Broads
The Wherry Ardea, moored at How Hill
Drainage Mills at How Hill
Boats moored at How Hill Staithe
Wooden yacht sailing on the River Ant near How Hill
Electric Eel Boat Trips
Mooring the Electric Eel at How Hill
An aerial view of the River Ant from How Hill (looking north towards Barton Broad)
Just below How Hill Staithe, on the opposite bank, is Turf Fen Drainage Mill. This was built by Yarmouth millwright, William Rust around 1875 to drain Horning marshes into the River Ant. Although the tower only had two floors, it was 31' high with a Norfolk style boat shaped cap, four double shuttered sails and a six bladed fantail.
The mill ceased working around the 1920s when cattle no longer grazed the marshes.
Turf Fen Mill on the River Ant near How Hill
Turf Fen Drainage Mill
Turf Fen windmill at How Hill
How Hill summary of what to SEE and DO
Enjoy the views of the How Hill House, from the river or surrounding parkland.
Go for a walk in the surrounding countryside and along the banks of the River Ant.
Explore the Marshman's Cottage Museum and see how life was like 100 years ago.
Go and find the Secret Garden, which is different in all seasons.
Go for a walk around the nature trail.
Take a wildlife boat trip in the Electric Eel into the surrounding reeds and marshland.
How Hill is a great place to see the nature and wildlife of the Broads at their best. Don't just cruise by, How Hill is a great place to stop, with loads to see and do!