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Irstead

An tiny unspoilt village with thatched church and riverside views

An Introduction to Irstead

Viewing Platform
Irstead Cottage
River Ant
Irstead Church
Alderfen Broad

The tiny village of Irstead is tucked away and surrounded by water on two sides. In truth, there is little there except for a thatched medieval church and a collection of riverside houses. What makes Irstead so special though is its unspoilt, peaceful, riverside setting, almost cut off from the rest of Norfolk. It's a great place to escape the world and enjoy the beauty of the Norfolk countryside at its best.

You should make time to see the inside of the small, medieval church during your time in Irstead, it's one of the best on the Broads. On a fine day you could also take a walk to the nearby Barton board walk, which takes you on a fabulous journey through ancient woodland to a viewing point over Barton Broad.
Local Websites
Barton Turf & Irstead Parish Council

Norfolk Cottages

Irstead Map

Irstead Map Horning Stalham Barton Broad Neatishead Barton Turf Barton Broad
 

Irstead Guided Picture Tour


We start our tour of Irstead at the staithe on the River Ant. There is only room for a couple of boats, but if you are lucky enough to get a mooring, it is definitely worth stopping for a while. It is a great place to watch the boats float by and view the local wildlife. From the river, you get a great view of the beautiful riverside houses and gardens. There is parking for a few cars at the staithe, adjacent to the churchyard.
Irstead Staithe
Irstead public staithe
Riverside Cottage
Thatched riverside cottage in Irstead
Riverside Property
Riverside Property
Irstead Cruising
The River Ant at Irstead
Irstead Fishing
Fishing on Irstead Staithe

The small ancient church of Irstead St Michael, dates back to the 14th century and the building we see today is virtually unchanged from the one completed in the 15th century. The church contains some interesting features such as the 14th century octagonal font, the remains of ancient wall painting on the north wall, original carved benches and a carving of St Michael wrestling a serpent above the entrance (outside). The first recorded Rector in Irstead actually pre-dates the church. Records show the existence of a Rector in 1175, during the reign of King Henry II. The churchyard contains the grave of Sir Frances Palgrave (near the east window), who was the founder of the Public Records Office (now the National Archives).
Irstead Church
Irstead Church of St Michael
Inside Irstead Church
Inside Irstead Church
St Michael Carving
A carving of St Michael wrestling a serpent
Medieval Stained Glass
Remnants of medieval stained glass
Church Font and Organ
The church organ and medieval font

Situated on the road from Neatishead to Irstead is the Barton Boardwalk, which takes you on a journey through ancient woodland to a fabulous viewing platform at the end. The boardwalk is the only way to see Barton Broad without using a boat. It has a main car-park about half a mile from the entrance (free and with toilets), but there is also a small car-park at the entrance for the disabled.
Viewing Platform
Barton Boardwalk Viewpoint
Boardwalk Sign
Barton Boardwalk Sign
Boardwalk
Barton Boardwalk
Information Board
Barton Boardwalk Viewing Platform Sign

The countryside surrounding Irstead is very picturesque and there are some great walks and cycle rides along the quiet country lanes. It gives the opportunity to take in the rural views and see the local flora and fauna. From Irstead staithe you could cycle to Alderfen Broad, or through Neatishead towards Barton Turf. Walkers should head for the Barton Boardwalk or follow one of the many footpaths over the fields.
Country Lane
A typical country lane near Irstead
Country Path
Footpath over fields near Irstead
Footpath
Inviting footpath over fields

Destination
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Irstead Summary of what to SEE and DO

Enjoy the views from the village staithe and watch the passing boats - don't forget a picnic!
Investigate the beautiful medieval village church
Cycle along the quiet and picturesque country lanes - to Neatishead or Alderfen Broad
Walk to the Barton Broad Boardwalk and enjoy the view over Barton Broad

Our Verdict

The area around Irstead is lovely unspoilt Broadland. It is the complete opposite of city life. It is an ideal place for those that wish to get away from it all and relax.
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