My daughter turned 6 last week, (I know I know, I don't look old enough ;) ) so we decided to have a family trip out to the Broads.
We had heard of a fabulous charity called The Nancy Oldfield Trust who have opened up The Broads to those with a disability and/or in a wheelchair so we thought we would go check it out and let you know how we got on! They are based just outside of Wroxham which is approx an hour from our holiday cottages.
The charity was set up in 1984 so it is in it's 30th year. It was set up to offer 'disabled and disadvantaged people a wide range of water-based activities on the Norfolk Broads.' There is so much on offer, you can come for a morning, afternoon or even spend the whole day with them - and all they ask for in return is a £9 donation per person per half day with carers going free. There is a minimum donation of £18 per boat per half day to cover their costs. This is all possible thanks to their amazing volunteers, some of who we met on the day.
We had the pleasure of going for a trip on one of their 3 motor cruiser boats. We were booked in for 1.30pm so we decided to bring along a picnic to have on the boat ride. We were greeted by Caryl who I had spoken with on the phone when arranging the trip and she was very friendly and welcoming. She directed us down to the jetty where we found our boat - The Nancy Bee. The route down to the jetty had fantastic access and there were others boarding one of the Trust's other 2 motor cruisers for their own explorations!
We were greeted by Mike & Jenny who were the lovely volunteers who had the pleasure of our company! They welcomed us on board and were fantastic with the children. I wondered how a wheelchair user would be able to access the boat but this was soon demonstrated to me! The platform that we got on started moving!! It was a lift!
It deposited us safely into the heart of the boat which had a covering which could be removed if the weather was a little kinder! Mike said that the cover had been off that morning but it had clouded over for our visit.
We were all given life jackets prior to setting off which the kids thought were fantastic! Then we were off!!
The inside of the boat was lovely and spacious, our guides said that it can happily accommodate up to 9 passengers. It had a galley, some seating and a table perfect for a picnic!! There were excellent toilet facilities on board too in case you got caught short! ;)
The trip was fab, it was really relaxing and the kids loved looking at all the nature we passed - we were lucky enough to see a Marsh Harrier hunting for it's lunch as well as a Mummy Duck with her brood of ducklings following along in her wake. There was also this beautiful swan:
Mike informed us that there is a fabulous Birding Walkway along the shore complete with Accessible Car park to allow everyone to enjoy the wildlife.
We chugged past the floating jetty where there were canoes & sailing boats moored up.
We were told that there are disabled toilets there and facilities to hoist wheelchair users into the canoes meaning that people of all abilities can have a go. They have a variety of canoes to suit different needs and abilities. There is also a fantastic sailing boat which goes out daily between Easter & the end of October, skippered by trained & experienced volunteers. There are also opportunities to fish and bird watch with the Trust.
We carried along on the Barton Broads, cruising past How Hill who are a small independent charity who offer a unique opportunity for people of all ages to experience and learn about the special environment of the Norfolk Broads. They have some beautiful gardens that are open to the public as well as a tea room - think I may have to go explore there another day!
I was told that the shoreline looks stunning when the rhododendrons come out :)
The children both had a go at driving the boat which they thought was brilliant, I on the other hand held on extra tight!! They both got given a certificate to take home to show everyone that they had got to drive!
We finished our tour and bid farewell to our hosts, all who had been fantastic! Emelia, when asked what the best bit had been about her birthday categorically stated that it was her Boat Trip!! Thank you!
I think what these guys do is fab, it really is a fantastic trip out and I highly recommend it! I took away loads of leaflets and have added them to our leaflet stash in each of the cottages for our guests to have a look at :)