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Fairhaven Water Garden

School Rd South Walsham NR13 6DZ

Just outside the village of South Walsham, Fairhaven Water Gardens is one of our favourite places in the northern Broads, providing as it does an easy (land-and wheelchair-accessible) glimpse of the swampy wilderness that makes up so much of the region. It's a special place, which came into the family in a state of ruin just after the war, and was renovated and planted by the last Lord Fairhaven over a 15-year period. The original house is now a private residence, but the gardens have been open to the public since the 1970s, and it says a lot about the place that there have been only two people in charge during that time. The current custodian, Louise Rout, is passionate about this beautiful and evocative mix of woodland, dykes and creeks, crossed by wooden bridges and cut through with shady paths, which lead down to the estate’s private section of South Walsham Broad. Here you can sometimes see an otter or two, take a boat trip – either a gentle spin round the Broad or to nearby St Benet’s Abbey and back – or just sit and watch the water. They also run canoe trips in conjunction with the CanoeMan, and there’s a decent café back at the entrance serving sandwiches, hot food and excellent scones, not to mention a lovely, healthy selection of plants for sale just outside the shop.  Afterwards, repair to the excellent village pub, The Ship, for a pint and something to eat. Perfect.

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