The landscape of the Broads is breath-taking. And despite its wildness, the Broads as we know them today are almost entirely man-made. Humans shaped this landscape as they fought to make it work for their own uses. Under endless skies, from the iconic mills to the large expanses of open water, from the cattle grazing the wetlands and marshes to the plants and animals living in the ditches and along embankments – all were put there to serve man’s needs.
The Broads themselves are the result of centuries of digging by hand for the fuel that was peat. Enough peat was dug by hand out of Norfolk to almost completely fill St Paul’s Cathedral – including the dome – twice over!
The mills drained the land so it could be used to graze animals and grow crops for as much of the year as possible. Ditches drained the water away from the land and the embankments stopped this low-lying land from being flooded twice daily by the sea.
The mills and their remains still stud the skyline in numbers not found anywhere else in the country. Boats use the open water and rivers for leisure activities. Cattle graze the marshes and the ditches are filled with wildlife.
The landscape is a delicate balancing act between the needs of the people who live and work here, those who visit and the wildlife that thrives here. This landscape supports 66 species of wildlife that are rarely seen outside the Broads.
Water, Mills and Marshes will encourage people out into the landscape to stop and really look at, and understand, what they are seeing. Practical work will improve footpaths and signage and provide observation platforms for a better view across Waveney marshes. The Broads Mills trail guide will be created for people to understand why features like mills and drainage ditches are where they are.
Got a grand idea for your landscape? A grants scheme will allow local people to apply for funding to help these ideas become reality.
Above all we want to encourage you to use and celebrate your landscape.