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Broads National Park

Barton Broad

An extraordinary regatta at dusk on the Norfolk Broads…local community groups, paddlers and traditional sailing vessels came together with the Nancy Oldfield Trust, which helps people with disabilities enjoy time on the water, at Barton Broad.

Barton Broad, owned by the Norfolk Wildlife Trust, is the second largest of the Norfolk Broads. Local boats from the Norfolk Punt Club were joined by four of the remaining five Edwardian Wherry Yachts, Hunter’s heritage fleet of half deckers and full deckers.

Event Notebook

Writer Hugh Lupton took inspiration from imagining the sight of the Broad from a pilot flying above, glimpsing what looked like a face in the waters below.

Oliver Payne (Musical Keys, specialists in disability and creativity) brought together musicians including Loula Yorke, with George MCKay, Chris Dowding and Jake Lay who played live from the Punt Club pontoon; while ‘the Happy Couple’ created music on the boats.

Was its mouth
the wake an otter cut?
Did perch and pike
break surface and make
the round pupils of its sight?
Did a wind from the south
stipple and lap and lace
little waves into
the sleek oval of its face?
Did these things meet
in that split moment
by those airmen from their cockpits
in dawn light of
nineteen sixteen?

Hugh Lupton
A Lumenator smiling in the crowd
The large floating lighthouse on the water

Participants from Feathers Futures, GYROS (Great Yarmouth Refugee Outreach and Support), Herring House Trust and Nancy Oldfield Trust – some of whom had never had the chance to get on the water before – joined local sailors and visiting crews…including one veteran whose childhood holiday on the Broads in the 1940s led to a lifetime love of sailing. And the Valiant Rebel’s crew of three had over 230 years sailing experience between them!

Originally dug out in the Middle Ages for peat extraction, Barton Broad was famed for its clear waters and the rich diversity of aquatic plant life. However, after WWII it slowly became choked with algae until a massive mud-pumping operation, Clear Water 2000, was instigated by the Broads Authority. Fish, birds and aquatic plants have now made an impressive comeback and the Norfolk Broads are one of Europe’s most important wetlands for biodiversity and nature conservation. This also fuelled our decision to keep this location secret in advance, and restrict the number of participants.

Two Lumenators in a boat

Using an array of traditional acoustic instruments, vocals, electronic percussion and keyboard along with live looping and signal processing techniques, we attempted to evoke different Broadland atmospheres or scenes through exploratory collective improvisation.

Together we created impressionistic sound-worlds to describe a clear, still, starry night-sky reflected on a mirror-like broad, a bustling sunny day at Barton with boats of different sizes moving in all directions and other contrasting scenes. We thought about changing light, wind, rain, and the surface patterns on water, finding different ways to express these ideas through sound.

David Ross
Stepping Stones Ensemble
Groups learning about the wildlife on the Broads. The group is sat in a bird watching hide over looking a lake.

About the Broads National Park

The Broads National Park is a unique mosaic of gentle landscape, lakes and rivers covering 303 square kilometres.

Despite comprising only 0.1% of the UK, the Park area boasts more than a quarter of its rarest wildlife. Iconic mills and historic landmarks nestle among miles of waterways, fen, woodland and footpaths while idyllic towns and villages dot the wide landscapes.

The broad, shallow lakes are man-made rather than natural. The formation of the Broads was not fully understood until 1952 when botanist, Joyce Lambert caused a sensation by revealing that the Broads were not created naturally but were man-made – a discovery that has transformed our understanding of the area. Her research revealed that the Broads had vertical sides and almost flat beds. She deduced they could not have formed naturally but must have originated as peat diggings which provided fuel during Medieval times. These filled with water over the centuries to become the boating playground we see today. The Broads joined the family of 15 National Parks in 1989. It incorporates part of the City of Norwich, stretches over two Counties (Norfolk and Suffolk) and has over 125 miles of navigable waterways making it the 3rd largest inland waterway in the UK.

We’d like to thank all the groups who participated:

  • Nancy Oldfield Trust
  • Feathers Futures
  • GYROS: Great Yarmouth Refugee Outreach & Support
  • Herring House Trust

Thanks to our partners who supported this event:

  • The Broads Authority
  • Norfolk Wildlife Trust
  • Wherry Yacht Charter
  • Hunter’s Yard
  • Norfolk Punt Club
  • Natural England

Photography by Malachy Luckie