Heather was taken to the Green Festival at the idyllic Fairhaven Woodland and Water Gardens at South Walsham, held on Sunday 23 June. Accompanying Heather was a Royall's punt. We moored both boats next to a rustic boathouse and opposite the Fairhaven passenger launch PRIMROSE. Many nature and Broads devotees turned out to see attractions from falconry to a Punch and Judy show and stalls with a conservation theme.
We had a leisurely cruise down river, stopping on route beside the atmospheric remains of the Abbey of St Benet of Holme. We learnt from a guide that the monastery was founded in the ninth century by King Cnut, being one of several once powerful Benedictine houses, including Bury St Edmunds. The remaining fabric of the Abbey has been extensively repaired. Only sections of the Gatehouse are left standing. Bizarrely, an eighteenth century mill tower has been supplanted in the middle of it.
The site is undergoing the final stages of rejuvenation, with new paths and a car & bicycle park to encourage visitors already complete. This work has been carefully undertaken by the Broads Authority and the Norfolk Archaeological Trust. Unfortunately, some of the surface material used is inappropriate as the fine, sharp grit does have a tendency to be tramped into boat decks (on the soles of footwear) and damage them. People will be able to discover through walking guides, the history of the Abbey. There are also definitive plans for a causeway path from Ludham Bridge to the site. In future years, there may be scope to build a viewing platform at the top of the tower. St Benet's continues to be a place of activity. Several boats, bedecked in colourful bunting met for a Norfolk Broads Forum gathering.
Returning to Hoveton, we stopped by Salhouse, dropping anchor on one of the finest Broads. The punt was paddled over to the sandy beach and her nose pulled up out of the water. This method of mooring was once the norm at Salhouse (enabling craft to berth side or astern) until the sections of quay heading were created. The modern way of mooring, is happily much safer.
Andrew and Chris