Brundall and Surlingham
Coldham Hall Tavern is in a lovely setting on the Surlingham bank of the Yare 18 ½ miles upstream of Yarmouth. There are excellent moorings here for patrons, but no access to Brundall. In 2011 they won the South Norfolk Community Pub of the Year Award, they have consistently received good reviews on TripAdvisor and have gained a Certificate of Excellence.
River Yare at Surlingham
Dotted amongst the trees upstream of Coldham Hall Tavern are a number of attractive wooden boat sheds and bungalows. This scene has probably remained unchanged for many years. The Brundall side of the river however has seen many changes.
Surlingham Broad holds an important place in the history of the Broads for it was here that stratigrapher Joyce Lambert discovered the Broads were man-made, formed from peat diggings. On Bargate you will find another bit of history – the sunken remains of thirteen wherries. The chained off area on the broad is known as Harbrough’s Graveyard. Photographs taken by the aerial photographer Mike Page clearly show the remains of the hulls.
There are two entrances to the broad one at either end of the big meander in the Yare before and after the village of Brundall. Today only the section known as Bargate is navigable to hire craft; further exploration of the broad can be undertook by canoe or other similar craft, but take care not to get lost. Bargate is popular for mud-weighting overnight.
River Yare at Brundall
The riverside at Brundall mainly consists of holiday bungalows and boatyards, these provide very little opportunity for hire craft to moor other than at Brooms Boatyard. Here you will find a new café bar called The Food Vault. Check out Brooms website for opening times etc. Mooring for hire craft is also available at Silverline on Hobroughs Dyke. The village proper is set back beyond the railway on a hill overlooking the river. Here you will find a Co-op supermarket open from 6am to 10pm. There are a good number of take-aways offering Indian and Chinese cuisine. On the riverside estate you will find the newly opened East Hills Cafe Bistro. The Yare pub closed in December 2021.
Hobroughs Dyke leads of the River Yare opposite Coldham Hall Tavern, it allows access to the boatyards on the Riverside Estate. At one time there were many hire bases along the dyke, at the time of writing I understand there is now just one, Silverline Marine. Silverline are members of the Broads Hire Boat Federation, overnight moorings are freely available here if space permits.
Brundall Pleasure Gardens
The Switzerland of Norfolk is the name given to Brundall Pleasure Gardens when featured in a 1920’s postcard. Doctor Michael Beverley on land thought to be the site of a Roman landing stage created the gardens, which lead down to Brundall Mere and across the railway to the River Yare. Under new ownership the gardens were further developed. This included a hotel, tearoom and yacht basin. Passenger’s steamers from Norwich and Yarmouth together with visitors arriving by train made the gardens an extremely popular tourist attraction. The gardens closed in 1937 and over the years became neglected.
The yacht basin is now home to Brundall Gardens Marina. The series of ponds once known as the Cascades now lie within the privately owned Lake House. Janet Muter is the owner of Lake House and has for many years opened the gardens to the public as part of the National Gardens Scheme. Janet has written a book entitled “Rescue of a Garden: Restoring a Lost Garden in Brundall, Norfolk” it describes how she and her husband restored the garden and is well worth a read.
Surlingham Ferry is 1 ¾ miles upstream from Brundall, following a collision with a coaster in 1939 the ferry ceased operating. The Ferry House is one of the oldest pubs in the area. It has a reputation for wholesome home cooked food at reasonable prices. Moorings are available for patrons on the quay. On the opposite bank are the Broads Authority moorings at Postwick Staithe. The Wherryman’s Way passes the pub, if you fancy a stroll then there is a short walk of about 2 miles that takes you through the RSPB nature reserve at Surlingham Church Marsh passing the burial place of the naturalist Ted Ellis, returning alongside the River Yare.