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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 Tourist Map

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Map contains Ordnance Survey Data © Crown copyright and database right 2018

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. A handful of free public 24 hour moorings can be found adjacent to the bridge (boat yard side), with further moorings available opposite the houseboats (pay).
Wayford Bridge
An aerial view of Wayford Bridge
Wayford Bridge Houseboats
Houseboat Holiday Park at Wayford Bridge
Day Boat Hire
Day boat and canoe hire at Wayford Bridge
Wayford Bridge Houseboats
Wayford Bridge Inn
Wayford Bridge Moorings
The free 24 hour moorings 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 Windmill
Hunsett Windmill
Windmill Cap
A close-up of the windmills sails and cap

This stretch of the River Ant is narrow, wooded, but very picturesque. There are a few safe places to tie to a tree and watch the world float by or cast your fishing rod. A little further along the river, the channel divides, with a branch leading off the River Ant towards 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
The channel divides between Stalham and Sutton
River Cruiser
A traditional river cruiser on the River Ant

On arrival in Stalham you are greeted by Richardsons boatyard, a popular place to hire holiday cruisers. Stalham itself is a small town, which has a High Street containing a collection of take-away's, pub and various other local shops. You will also find the Museum of Broads and a Tesco supermarket.
Richardsons Boats
Cruisers ready for hire at Richardsons Boatyard in Stalham
Stalham High Street
Stalham High Street
Museum of the Broads
The Museum of the Broads

Crossing pretty Sutton Broad takes you to Sutton Staithe, which has a grassy area adjacent to 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 Broad
Boats cruising over Sutton Broad
Sutton Staithe
Boats moored at Sutton Staithe
Sutton Staithe
Sutton Staithe
Sutton Windmill
Views of Sutton Mill
Malcolm Flatman
Sutton Pottery

Just before the River Ant opens out onto Barton Broad, there is a channel leading to the lovely village of Barton Turf, where there is plenty of moorings, either at the village staithe or along Paddy's Lane. Barton Turf is a lovely unspoiled Broadland village and a great place to explore, with plenty of local walks (you can walk to the pub at Neatishead in about 30 minutes).
Barton Turf
An aerial view of Cox's Marina, Barton Turf Satithe and the village
Cox's Boatyard
Sunrise at Barton Turf over Cox's Boatyard
Coronation Cottage
Coronation Cottages, Barton Turf

Next, the river opens out onto Barton Broad, which is the second largest of the Norfolk Broads, and 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.
An aerial view of Barton Broad
Sailing in Barton Broad
Norfolk Wherry
A Norfolk Wherry sailing on Barton Broad
Moored on Barton Broad
Moored on Barton Broad
Fishing on Barton Broad
Sailing Races
Sailing Races on Barton Broad
Steam Launch
Steam launch from the Museum of the Broads

An arm leads west 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 unspoiled Broadland village with a shop, pub and restaurant. Nearby is the Barton Boardwalk, a journey through ancient woodland to a fabulous viewing platform at the end.
Neatishead Village
An aerial view of Neatishead village, with Barton broad in the distance
Canoe down Lime Kiln Dyke
Gays Staithe
Gays Staithe, near Neatishead
White Horse Inn
White Horse Inn Neatishead
Village Shop
White Stores Shop Neatishead
Neatishead Staithe
Neatishead public staithe
Viewing Platform
Barton Boardwalk Viewpoint

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 village staithe, although small, is a great place to sit and watch the boats float by!
Irstead Staithe
Irstead 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 Boatyard
Ludham Bridge on the River Ant
Ludham Bridge
Navigating under Ludham Bridge
River Ant Footpath
Riverbank south of Ludham Bridge, towards Ant Mouth
Ant Mouth
Boats turning in and out of the River Ant at Ant Mouth

River Ant summary of what to SEE and DO

Hire a day boat from Wayford Bridge, Ludham Bridge or Stalham
View the windmills at Hunsett or How Hill
Explore the villages of Stalham, Sutton, Barton Turf or Neatishead
Visit the marshman's cottage and nature reserve at How Hill
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 at the White Horse in Neatishead
Visit the museum of the Broads at Stalham
Stop, moor up the boat, and simply watch the world float by!

Our Verdict

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