Results 1 to 8 of 8

Thread: Waveney, Beccles

  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2013
    near upper Arun

    Default Waveney, Beccles

    My father is getting a houseboat at Beccles later in the summer. I've seen some blogs of people doing the upper reaches, but whats it like at Beccles? Tidal or is that further down? I'm wondering about a 7 year old getting into a kayak to practise paddling etc. as well as what it will be like for canoeing from there rather than travelling elsewhere to paddle.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2009


    It can get busy with weekend admirals in hire cruisers around Beccles. You also get a lot of yachts tacking to and fro, which makes navigation interesting. The river is nice, running between meadows mostly. It is tidal there (comes in via Gt Yarmouth) so the get out via the bank is sometimes a bit of a climb (mostly piled banks) but I don't recall the current being strong.

    If you go upstream, its pretty through town past Puddingmoor, where you can launch from the public car park, with a bit of a carry to the water. Lots of jetties and gardens but not many public get-out spots.

    The end of Beccles marina furthest from the river used to have a slipway and wasn't busy; also narrower so could be an option for a training place. But be ready for a rescue and don't take risks (I'm sure that goes without saying, given your question )
    downstream it gets remote quite quickly and there's a sailing club down there too but that's probably further than you'll venture.

    bungay isn't far away and is a good training area as its above the limit of navigation (Geldeston Lock) for powered craft. But your lad/lass should be good to learn at Beccles. (That's my personal opinion only, of course, and you should see for yourself when you get there whether you agree or not).

    if you visit Oulton Broad, you have easy paddling around Everitts Park (check there's no powerboat racing or it'll be busy and your paddling will be restricted for obvious reasons). Launch at the slipway at the west of the park, accessible from the big car park. There are a couple of put-ins between Beccles and Oulton Broad but I'm not sure they're good options for you yet.

    i used to kayak from Oulton Broad to Beccles often when I was a kid. Used to stop at Borough Staithe for ice cream - i believe its a bit busier there now. Also went toward Yarmouth a lot. Used to surf the cruisers' wakes. Great fun. Also used to surf the beaches at Lowestoft in my kayak. Have turned from the Dark Side to open boats now!

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2013
    near upper Arun


    Thanks. That's extremely helpful... And will be a useful resource for others too.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2013
    near upper Arun


    can anyone clarify the access situation, as the Rivers Access Map is a bit ambiguous.
    Historic navigation on upper stretches, so thats fine - but Harleston to Bungay bit says Env Agency agreement. Does that mean there is a common law right because of the earlier right, but they would LIKE people to have a BCU licence.... or do I really need a licence for there?

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2013
    near upper Arun


    A note to me from the River Access Campaign's officer:

    The access agreement for the Waveney was compiled from the Brighton report.
    The Waveney has been paddled along its full length for many years some paddlers have in the past been aggressive to land owners at portages thus causing problems.
    a link to THE RIVER WAVENEY TRUST Waveney valley
    A River Licence is required below Geldeston
    Membership of Canoe England(BCU) will cover this (or weekly Broads pass is 6)

    Name of river: River Waveney

    Where is it?: For most of its length it forms the border between Norfolk and Suffolk.

    Approx. Length: 70 miles from Scole to Great Yarmouth

    Access situation: Below Geldeston Locks the river is part of the Broads Authority navigation and requires a BA licence or BCU membership. Above Geldeston there are many weirs and mills which require portaging according to routes negotiated by the Local River Advisor.
    An access agreement has been negotiated between the points indicated however, the river has traditionally been paddled from Scole for many years, both landowners and local fishing clubs have voiced objections on some parts of the river. Care and courtesy is require to enable continued paddling on the full length of the river.It is advised that users of the river have BCU membership as the agreement asked for day tickets this however has not been enforced to date.

    Water Level Indicators: From Scole down river there is usually enough water to paddle all year round. Above Shotford, and to a limited extent below down to Bungay, the river does become fairly overgrown with surface weed in the summer months.

    Grading: Flat with weirs.

    Major hazards: Several weirs.

    General description
    The river sources from Lopham and Redgrave Fen, the same source as the Little Ouse and a circumnavigation of Norfolk has been paddled in the past using these two rivers and the sea. Above Diss there are some short stretches around Bressingham which are canoeable but the river runs through Bressingham Gardens which may cause difficulties. The river through Diss is of poor quality, with shopping trolleys and other dumped hazards. This stretch of river is rarely paddled by canoeists. Below this the river meanders through very unspoilt countryside and the valley of the Waveney down to Beccles offers some beautiful classic English countryside. Beyond Beccles the river becomes more open as it crosses ancient grazing marshes and eventually flows into Breydon Water where it merges into the Yare. This is a classic touring river.

    Section 1: Diss to Shotford Bridge (13 miles)
    Stuston Common - there is parking space for 2/3 cars adjacent to the golf course and reasonable access close to the road. This is not widely used for access.
    AccessPoint Scole - There is excellent access at Scole either by parking in the car park to the south of the river off the A143 just east of the junction with the A140. The car park does have a height barrier however and alternative parking is available on the old bridge accessible from Scole village. A large wooden fishing platform on the south bank gives very easy access or use the bank on the north side close to the bridge.
    Billingford - There is limited parking on the Suffolk side of the bridge. The very small weir under the bridge is shootable in good flows but generally a portage is needed. Launching is not easy under the bridge due to the Environment Agency Barrier around the weir. Access is via a steep bank on the north side parking on the south side you will need to cross the bridge with care as it is a hump back bridge on a corner.
    River Dove - the River Dove enters the Waveney 2 miles below Billingford and can lead to confusion with unwary visitors. An oxbow bend in the river some 200m further along offers a particularly beautiful and interesting section of river.
    Hoxne Weir - the mill is bypassed by getting out on the North side just before a sluice on this side. An easy portage just beyond the sluice offers several easy relaunching points. The weir is potentially dangerous and should be kept clear of. The landowners at this portage have been particularly helpful in the past. About a mile down from this sluice is a low farm bridge with what appears to be electrical cables dangling. This presents a potential hazard to canoeists.
    Syleham Mill The owner of the mill does not like people approaching where his garden borders the river and there appear regularly to be fisherman close to the Mill. There is a
    sluice on the North side which can be used to bypass this whole area. A boarded bank on the left just beyond the sluice drop off point offers a fairly easy exit and a short carry through undergrowth to the right where launching is fairly easy at several points. The undergrowth can be difficult. The landowner is not happy for canoeists to use this, it may be possible to portage to the left side of the weir. Careful consideration is required at this portage if canoeist give no problems to the land owner they may in time give free access. A small chute under the road bridge is easily negotiated.

    This is the start of the agreed river access agreement(Access to the river North side of the bridge left hand side of the road Not an easy access ?)
    Access point
    About half a mile further, on at a point where Angles Way meets the river on the South side, there is an easy exit point and this offers a good lunch stopping place.
    Needham Mill - the Mill is bypassed using the stream on the North side with a dangerous weir. This can be done either by:-
    (i) Getting out just before the sluice on a fairly steep bank on the left. Boats must be carried through nettle ridden under growth. Launching is fairly easy from the bank or a small ditch a few yards beyond.
    Weybread Mill - there is a very easy and obvious portage using the bypass stream on the North side.
    Approaching Shotford Bridge Care should be taken as there are remains of the old bridge and concrete slabs which are not always visible.
    Access point Shotford Bridge - this has long been a traditional place to start and finish trips. A canoe launch platform is now situated on the south side of the river immediately below the bridge which can be accessed by a stile in the railings on the end of the bridge. Park on the minor road on the North side of the river where there is a small amount of on road parking. Access/exit from the North side is very difficult involving scrambling down a steep bank around a tree onto a fallen buttress. The river is usually fast flowing at this point.

    Section 2: Shotford Bridge to Bungay (15 miles)
    Shotford Bridge - see above.
    Mendham Bridge - access is possible here although parking is very difficult. The landowner is very amenable to launching above the bridge but below the bridge there have been difficulties.
    Mendham Mill - portaging should be on the left just before the sluice gives an easy exit and relaunch. The mill itself is used for trout farming and canoeists must avoid this.
    Wortwell Mill - there are sluices to the North and South. The South sluice is dangerous for canoeists and should not be used. There is easy exit and relaunch on the North side sluice the land owner has given limited permission as long as canoeists do not disturb the peace of the area.
    Homersfield Weir - about 200m above the village. Portage platform is on the north bank and reentry platform is just below the weir(note. the weir is bing removed in late 2013 and the portage platforms being repositioned) Between the weir and the bridge the river can be very reedy and very difficult to paddle
    Access Point Homersfield Bridge- this is a very good access point. There is restricted parking either side of this blocked off historic bridge. A small chute under the bridge does create a fast shallow flow. From the North bank there is no walkway down to the bank but a launching platform a new walkway is being considered by the Waveney Rivers Trust . On the South side, easily accessed across the bridge, there is a canoe launch platform. It is understood that the Black Swan PH will allow camping on the large green between the pub and the river.
    The river is initially shallow and fast flowing in flood.
    Waveney River Trust(The Otter Trust) - The Otter Trust were pivotal in the recent resurgence of otters in the UK with its extensive release programme again .The area is now part of the Waveney River Trust and not used by the Otter Trust.
    Earsham Mill - exit is by a platform above the sluice on the South side. The sluice itself is stepped and potentially dangerous. Relaunching is easy just below the weir and this is a pleasant stopping place. Fisherman often use this bank however.
    Just below the weir the river divides into two, the right hand fork being the river, the left hand fork a man made cut only canoeable in high water conditions.
    Access Point Bungay West: shortly before passing under the road bridge there is a bridleway by the walls of the town. Parking in the Pay & display behind the Factory Shop on the main street or following down to a small parking area offers access here.
    As the river runs along the backs of houses, the walled sides constrict the river causing a fast flow in high water conditions. With overhanging trees this is potentially hazardous to inexperienced canoeists again quiet along this part as the river passes between gardens some land owners have only given conditional paddling rights at low water the access agreement state the canoeist must not walk along this part of the river.
    The long loop around the Common is nearly 2 miles long but offers attractive scenery and several easy spots for exiting and picnicking.
    Access Point Bungay Sluice - exiting is by a floating canoe launch platform on the South side of the river immediately before the weir and a path leads to excellent parking facilities. The Waveney Valley Canoe Club is based at the Waveney Centre.
    Below the weir is a stepped access point.
    Section 3:- Bungay to Beccles (11 miles)
    Access Point Wainford Mill - exit just down stream of the sluice on the North side. Access below the weir is reasonable from a platform the main bank has been fenced due to a fatal accident at the weir, please do not approach the weir.
    Ellingham Mill - Exit on the platform on the right hand side.

    This is the end of the river access agreement.
    The river Waveney is a tiddle from this point but has most effect from Geldeston onwards so it is best to check tide times so you are not paddling against the tides its not impossible to paddle against the tide it just makes it a more pleasant paddle.

    Below the sluice the bank is steep on the South bank this is a difficult portage as the EA has installed a fence .Access may be along via the road on the north bank near a land drain outlet.During fishing season the local fishing club has asked if paddling can be restricted on certain days (Check for these dates)
    The River is tidal beyond this point.

    Geldeston Locks:- A footbridge just before the locks. The Geldeston Locks PH is open generally but best to check if you are stopping for a pie and a pint.
    Beyond Geldeston Locks the river is the most southerly section of the Broads National Park and is used by cruising craft. A river license is required.
    After a short paddle there is a tee junction in the river. The left fork goes to Geldeston village ( Pub boat yard etc.) the right hand fork goes to Beccles
    The river has a long slow bend to Dunburgh where there is access to the road via a steep path. From Dunburgh the river winds through marsh land, then on the approach to Beccles the first a view is of the Catholic Church. On the south bank are private moorings and riverside chalets , Beccles rowing club and then the view of the tower of Beccles
    C of E St Michaels church. This tower is to the right of the church. The church is close to the cliff which overlooks puddingmoor. You then pass the Waveney house Hotel and interesting old and new houses with gardens down to the river. On the south bank just past the old road bridge is Beccles quay the access slipway is along the second larger spur to the right this is a busy area for broads cruisers so great care must be taken here.
    Public car park approximately 50 metres away from the slip way over a foot bridge

    Section 4: Beccles to Oulton Broad , St. Olaves (18 miles)
    Has a public slipway and car park approximately 50 m away

    Burgh St Peter
    This has a slip way but not sure it is public I have used this on several occasions with no problem .Car parking is part of the camp site and Public house I have never parked here as my usual paddle is from Beccles to Oulton Broad

    Oulton Broad
    Public Slip Way and Pay car park Approx 50m

    Section 5: St. Olaves to Great Yarmouth (12 miles)

    I have no information for this part other than there are several boat yards and a pub at
    St Olaves which may let you launch from their property if you use these please let me know the outcome for other paddlers

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
    Keynsham near Bristol


    Thanks for this good information. I've updated the Access Map

  7. #7


    I have also updated the Access Map with the route I recently did between Ellingham and Oulton Broad.

    Does anyone have any suggestions on when to park and launch a kayak on the river Waveney between Somerleyton and Burgh Castle?


  8. #8
    Join Date
    Apr 2010
    Currently Quebec Province, Canada. Oftimes N. Somerset, UK


    Geldeston Lock restoration underway...

    It says it's only one of two locks on the broads. I'm sure we had to portage a disused one on our way from Aylsham to Great Hautbois....

    'Adventure is relative. My adventure is another's commonplace.'

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts