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River Ant

The shortest and in places the narrowest of the Norfolk Broads rivers.

An Introduction to the River Ant on the Norfolk Broads

River Ant
Hunsett Mill
Wood Boat
How Hill
Irstead Cottage

The River Ant is the shortest, and in places the narrowest, of the Norfolk Broads rivers. It rises near North Walsham and then flows down to Wayford Bridge, where navigation starts. The Ant then flows past Hunsett Drainage Mill and into Barton Broad. After flowing through the Broad, the River Ant reaches Irstead village and then twists and turns through some of the most scenic countryside in Norfolk, before reaching How Hill, Ludham Bridge and finally flowing into the River Bure near St Benet's Abbey. Some stretches of the river can be a little shallow and busy in high season.

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River Ant Map

River Ant Map Neatishead Irstead Ludham Ludham Bridge Sutton Stalham Barton Broad Barton Turf How Hill
Turf Fen Mill

River Ant Guided Picture Cruise

Our River Ant cruise starts, along with navigation, at Wayford Bridge - where you will find a boatyard, hotel (Wayford Bridge Hotel) and day boat hire.
Wayford Bridge View
View from Wayford Bridge
Day Boat Hire
Day boat and canoe hire at Wayford Bridge

Not far downstream from Wayford Bridge is Hunsett drainage mill. Built in 1860, it was restored around 1970 and along with the mill house is privately owned. It has been one of the most photographed windmills in the whole of Norfolk, but can only be viewed by boat as it is miles from a public road or footpath.
Hunsett Mill
Hunsett drainage mill on the River Ant
Hunsett Mill
Hunsett Drainage Windmill, Norfolk

A channel leads off the main river to Stalham and Sutton, which then divides again - don't worry, you can always just follow the signs!
Ant Divide
River Ant near Stalham and Sutton
Stalham Divide
Channel to Stalham and Sutton

Stalham has a High Street which runs down the length of the village and has a great collection of take-away's, pub and various other shops. You will also find the Museum of Broads and a Tesco.
Stalham High Street
Stalham High Street
Stalham Town Sign
Stalham Sign
Richardsons Boats
Cruisers ready for hire at Richardsons Boatyard in Stalham

Pretty Sutton Staithe has a grassy area and the Sutton Staithe Hotel situated right next to the moorings. The residential village of Sutton is over the other side of the main A149 road. It has some lovely cottages grouped around a village pond. Nearby Sutton Mill is a 9 storey corn mill and is the tallest surviving windmill in the UK.
Sutton Staithe
Boats moored at Sutton Staithe
Sutton Staithe
Sutton Staithe
Sutton Windmill
Views of Sutton Mill
Malcolm Flatman
Sutton Pottery

Hoseasons Boats

The River Ant is fairly narrow in places and is lined by plenty of trees. Just before the River Ant opens out onto Barton Broad, there is a channel to the right leading to the lovely village of Barton Turf. Where there is plenty of moorings for the night and an unspoilt Broadland village to explore.
Broads Sailing
Broads yacht on the River Ant
Wooded Banks
Trees on the river bank
Barton Turf Staithe
Barton Turf staithe, off the River Ant
Barton Turf Cottage
Cottage in Barton Turf

Next, the river opens out onto Barton Broad, which is a great place to enjoy some sailing - or just messing about in boats! Barton Broad is home to pontoons from both the Norfolk Punt Club and the Nancy Oldfield Trust.
Sailing in Barton Broad
Kayak on Barton Broad
Norfolk Punt Club Pontoon
Barton punt club pontoon on Barton Broad
Nancy Oldfield Trust Pontoon
Nancy Oldfield Trust on Barton Broad
Sailing Races
Sailing Races on Barton Broad
Topper Sailing
Topper Sailing on Barton Broad

One arm leads from Barton Broad towards Gays Staithe and then along Lime Kiln Dyke to the village of Neatishead. These quiet and peaceful backwaters lead to an unspoilt Broadland village with a shop, pub and restaurant.
Canoe down Lime Kiln Dyke
Neatishead Staithe
Gayes Staithe, near Neatishead
White Horse Pub
White Horse Inn Neatishead
Saddlery Restaurant
Ye Olde Saddlery restaurant Neatishead
Neatishead Staithe
Neatishead public staithe
Village Shop
White Stores Shop Neatishead

From Barton Broad, the River Ant flows through Irstead Village, where you will find some lovely waterside properties and a thatched village church, dating back to the 15th century. The vilage staithe, although small, is a great place to sit and watch the boats float by!
Irstead Staithe
Irstead public staithe
Irstead Church
Irstead church of St. Michael
Irstead Cruising
The River Ant at Irstead
Waterside home
Waterside cottage on the River Ant at Irstead
Waterside home
Riverside property in Irstead

The River twists and turns until it reaches the How Hill Estate. At How Hill you can explore a Marshman's Cottage Museum, walk around a Nature Trail, view the Secret Gardens or simply enjoy the beautiful surroundings for a walk, picnic or family games!
How Hill House
How Hill House (private study centre)
How Hill Staithe
Boats moored at How Hill Staithe
Electric Eel
Mooring the Electric Eel at How Hill
Toad Hole Cottage
Toad Hole Cottage and Garden
How Hill Secret Garden
The Secret Gardens at How Hill

Just below How Hill Staithe, on the opposite bank, is Turf Fen Drainage Mill. The River Ant then twists and turns through the beautiful Norfolk countryside until it reaches Ludham Bridge. At the bridge you will fend plenty of free 24 hour moorings, a boatyard, a cafe, a shop and a pub - 5 minutes walk to the Dog Inn. The River Ant continues for less than a mile, before joining the River Bure at Ant Mouth.
Turf Fen Mill
Turf Fen Mill on the River Ant near How Hill
Ludham Bridge
Ludham Bridge on the River Ant
Ludham Bridge Boatyard
Ludham Bridge Boatyard on the River Ant
River Ant Footpath
Riverbank south of Ludham Bridge, towards Ant Mouth
Cruiser on the River Ant near Ant Mouth

River Ant summary of what to SEE and DO

Take a boat ride on the Electric Eel or the Ra
Hire a day boat from Ludham Bridge or Stalham
View the windmills at Hunsett or How Hill
Explore the village of Barton Turf or Neatishead
Visit the marshman's cottage and nature reserve
Take a walk along the banks from Ludham Bridge
Visit the Barton Boardwalk near Neatishead
Explore the village church at Irstead
Enjoy a pub or restaurant meal in Neatishead
Visit the museum of the Broads at Stalham
We reckon the River Ant is the most picturesque of the Norfolk Broads rivers and you should make sure it is included in your cruise.

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Neatishead Irstead Ludham Ludham Bridge Sutton Stalham Barton Broad Barton Turf