Potter Heigham – Gateway to the Upper Thurne
Potter Heigham is the gateway to the Upper Thurne and the home of the Herbert Woods boatyard founded in 1928. Herbert Woods Tower is a local landmark visible on the approach to Potter Heigham from the south. The main part of the village is ½ mile north of the bridge, but few visitors wander further than the river and staithe.
Shops include the Potter Fish Bar and Restaurant, Potter Tea Room, formerly The Bridge Stores, Bangers and Beverages, The Flour and Bean Coffee Shop and of course Lathams. The pub beside the river is Broads Haven Tavern, but I recommend you take a short walk into the village and visit The Falgate Inn, which is just past the Post Office. There are three boatyards, Maycraft, Herbert Woods and Phoenix Fleet. They offer the usual facilities found at boatyards on the Broads including day boat hire.
Potter Heigham Village Sign
The sign depicts a wherry maneuvering in front of Potter Heigham’s medieval bridge. On the left is the unusual brick font found in the Church of St Nicholas. The church is one of the most attractive with its 12th century round tower and thatched roof. The centre image celebrates the many old pottery works in the area which are said to date back to the Roman era.
Potter Heigham Bridge
The medieval bridge is justifiably famous although not the lowest of the Broads bridges, it is certainly the most difficult to navigate. The bridge has 6 ft 6 inches headroom at average high water; it has a semicircular arch with the sides falling sharply to the water. All hire boats capable of passing beneath the bridge are required to use the services of the Bridge Pilot.
Potter Heigham Bridge Pilot
Phoenix Fleet is the base of the Potter Heigham bridge pilot. It is the white building flying flags beside the bridge. Water is available here and in the boatyard opposite. The pilot’s fee is £10 each way but I understand the hire yards cover the cost of return. When water levels are low the area near the bridge can be busy with spectators who marvel at the skills of the bridge pilot’s as they take even 42 ft cruisers through the bridge. These days when conditions are right there are only on average six boats per day wishing to make the journey to the Upper Thurne. This year (2016) water levels have been so high few boats other than small day boats have been able to pass through.
Shooting Potter Heigham Bridge
The skipper of a yacht shoots Potter Heigham Bridge heading for the popular sailing areas of the Upper Thurne. With the rise in water levels over the past few years the amount of boats able to negotiate the bridge have dropped from over 10,000 to less than 1800 per year.
Mooring at Potter Heigham (Repps Bank)
Potter Heigham has plentiful moorings downstream of the bridge on the Repps bank and at Herbert Woods boatyard. The moorings on the Repps bank are particularly pleasant as they catch both the morning and evening sun.
Mooring at Potter Heigham (Potter Heigham Bank)
The public moorings upstream of the bridge are on the Potter Heigham bank between the old and new bridges. There is a wide grassy area ideal to sit and have a picnic.
Potter Heigham Staithe
Potter Heigham Staithe is adjacent to the medieval bridge. The area is hard landscaped but attractive none the less with trees, flower boxes and benches to sit and watch the comings and goings on the River Thurne.
Lathams at Potter Heigham
Like at Wroxham, Potter Heigham has a well-known store – Lathams, it has traded for well over 30 years. Lathams is a popular store; people come from miles around especially to shop there. They stock a vast range of products, departments include clothing, hardware, grocery, fresh food, a garden centre, fishing tackle and the Flour and Bean Bakery and Coffee Shop.
Repps Riverside Moorings (The Quiet Moorings)
Attractive bungalows line both banks from the staithe at Potter Heigham down passed Repps and on towards Womack Dyke. There are two mooring places at Repps Riverside known as the ‘quiet moorings’. One is opposite Windmill Cottage, seen above and the other opposite Maycraft boatyard. These moorings as the name suggests are a little quieter, both are very pleasant with their adjacent grassy areas and views over the marshes. They are owned and maintained by the riverside bungalow owners at their own expense and provided as free 24 hour moorings to the boating public. Potter Heigham is a gentle stroll along the footpath that leads behind the bungalows to the staithe.