The Ant Valley is an area of diverse habitats with wooded upper reaches and the open water of Barton Broad at its centre.
Ant Mouth to Ludham Bridge - Enter the River Ant off the River Bure at St Benets Abbey reach. This is a narrower river than the Bure - care and caution should be paramount. Vessel beam restrictions apply on the Ant. The speed limit between Ant mouth and Barton Broad is 4mph. Keep clear of the banks as there are hidden obstructions, ancient underwater timber piling and tree roots. Water depth will also be affected nearer the banks. The river winds upstream to Ludham Bridge offering a general central depth of between six and seven feet. Caution is required on bends approaching Ludham Bridge, which has a general clearance of eight foot six inches. Check advance gauges on approaching. Once through the bridge, free moorings are available on both banks.
Ludham Bridge - Irstead Reach to Barton Broad - On leaving Ludham bridge, the river winds upstream passing through How Hill and Irstead. Free moorings are available at both but will be busy during summer. Please note that through Irstead village there is a natural sand and gravel river bed which at some states of the tide is shallower than the stated 1.5 m Waterways Specification navigable depth for this reach. As this feature is part of the natural river form, capital dredging to remove the feature is not part of the current Sediment Management Strategy. Please see the more detailed map showing the location of these shallow spots as you pass through Irstead Shoals.
After leaving Irstead, the river widens approaching Barton Broad and the speed limit changes to 5mph on the Broad. Keep within channel markers and avoid heading south onto Turkey Broad as there are conservation nets, booms and shallow water here. Keep well clear of Pleasure Hill Island, especially on it’s western side, where shallow water over a remnant peat feature still exists. Heading west follow the navigable channel to the village of Neatishead, and to Gay Staithe where free moorings are available. From May to September, water plants are common between the main Broad and Gay Staithe, particularly in the bays outside of the marked channel. These are not typically cut and may not be visible at the surface.
On Barton Broad, heading north will bring you into the village of Barton Turf and onwards to Sutton, Stalham and Wayford.
Barton Turf upstream to Sutton, Stalham, Wayford and Dilham. Upstream from Barton Turf, the Ant has the villages of Sutton, Stalham, Wayford and Dilham. The river is restricted to a 4mph speed limit off Barton Broad. This is a heavily wooded area. Take care as you navigate some blind bends upstream. Upstream of Barton Broad is a junction, to the left is the river Ant continuing to Wayford, the right goes to Stalham and the village of Sutton. The only bridge above Barton Broad to negotiate is at Wayford which has an average height of approx seven feet - please check the gauges. Above Wayford is the village of Dilham. Tylers Cut becomes very narrow, and is not suited for larger vessels as the area is heavily wooded and there are tight bends. From May to September, water plants are common in this stretch and there is typically a 1 metre margin left uncut on each side of the channel.