Martham Broad

This beautiful broad is located in one of the most scenic areas of Norfolk, as it is located next to Martham Nature reserve, which is in fact the furthest northwest point of the Broads National Park. Although you won’t be able to get right up to the waters edge due to the reed marshland that surrounds it, you can still enjoy excellent views from the charming natural walk that runs along the north side and the south side of the broad. It is separated into two separate bodies of salty water with the River Thurne running straight through the middle and although the broad shares it’s name with the nearby town of Martham, it is actually located closer to the village of West Somerton, which is also where you have to go to access the walk. Follow Staithe Road through this pretty village and you will come to a small grassy area where you will find free parking spaces and although parking is free, it’s still very limited. Once you’ve parked up you will see the entrance to the nature walk signposted on the opposite side of the staithe.

The river route past the broad is clearly marked to help boats avoid disturbing the waters of the broads when certain mating seasons are underway. Other than that you are free to enter the broad however, it’s always best to double check with English Nature if you’re not sure when the seasons are (usually during winter).

Where is Martham Broad?
Martham Broad is approximately 21.4 miles (37 minutes) to the northeast of Norwich. Please see the map below for details:

Where to Park at Martham Broad
The best place to park when visiting Martham Broad is West Somerton Staithe. Here you will find a small gravel car park that can accommodate five or six cars and there is also a gravel layby on the edge of the road, which can hold a maximum of two cars. Thankfully, the area never really gets that busy due to Martham Broad being one of the counties ‘hidden broads’. The walk to the broad & nature reserve starts at the layby and it’s clearly signposted so you won’t have trouble finding it. If the parking areas are all full, turn around and head back through West Somerton, as you are sure to find a convenient spot on the side of the road.

Martham Broad Walks
Martham Broad offers two scenic walks, one that will take you along the north side of the broad starting from West Somerton Staithe and the other taking you along the south side of the River Thurne leading to the southern part of the broad. Starting at West Somerton Staithe, walk along the road to the layby where you will see a signpost indicating the start of the public walk. This grassy trail will lead you up to the north side of the broad and although it’s fairly solid during the dryer seasons, during winter the path can get very muddy, so make sure that you dress accordingly. The trail will lead you along the edge of the canal, past a disused windmill and onto where to river forms to your left and the Martham Nature reserve stretches out to your right. You will travel for about 1km around the edge of the broad and depending how high the reed beds have become; you should be able to enjoy a very scenic view of the water. Once you have passed the north side of the broad, the walk will continue through the beautiful Norfolk countryside but it’s not a circular walk, so the further you walk, the further away from your car you will be heading. In order to get back you will need to turn around and walk back the way you came. This will give you another opportunity to see the things you may have missed including some of the amazing wildlife that dwells around the reserve & broad. These include otters, bats, birds and the beautiful Swallowtail butterfly. During the first part of the walk along the edge of the narrow waterway you will notice how incredibly clear the water here is. It is partly due to the location of the area on the northwest edge of the broad’s national park and thorough maintenance of the surrounding nature reserve. The water is so clear in fact that you can see the small fish swimming around near the riverbed. The second walk can be accessed from New Road just a short distance further up into West Somerton. This route will take you along the southside of the canal and will lead you through woodland and onto the south bank of the southern part of the broad. This path offers some beautiful natural sights also but remember that it’s not a circular walk, so you will have to turn around and walk back the way you came.

What else does Martham Broad offer?
Anglers are welcome to set up along the bank of the river but are asked to make way for boats looking to moor. But thanks to the area remaining very quiet all year round there is rarely any need for boats to find space to moor. The lack of tourists visiting by boat is another factor that contributes to keeping the water clean and clear.

However please note that the only people allowed to use the staithe at Martham broad for boat launching is exclusively the parishioners from Somerton and Winterton. We have been contacted by a member of ‘Somerton Staithe and Boat Dyke Trust’ who is getting upset that they are getting constant problems with others using the slipway – including some canoe clubs, which apparently degrades the earth slipway.

The waters are beautifully clear, so you can enjoy looking out for the rivers fine selection of fish as you row.