The Thurne is a stretch of river which gives access to Hickling Broad and Horsey Mere as well as flowing through Martham Broad.
Thurne Mouth - Thurne Mouth is a wide-open reach, with good depth. There are private craft moored on your starboard side as you head upstream approaching Thurne Dyke. When you leave Thurne Dyke heading upstream you pass Thurne Mill. It is one of the very distinctive local landmarks visible for some distance. The river is reed fringed to starboard but has some flood protection piling to port, which is very popular with anglers. Avoid fouling lines.
Womack Dyke - The next reach bends to the right and you approach the entrance to Womack Water- this is the access dyke for Ludham village. Womack dyke is restricted in width and care must be taken when passing moored boats.
You pass boatyards on your Starboard side as you proceed upstream in Womack dyke and onwards to Ludham Staithe. The port bank remains fairly wild and you should not approach too close in case of roots etc. The public staithe on your starboard side is called Womack Staithe and is the public moorings for Ludham.
Potter Heigham Reach - A wide open reach with no hazards and good water. Just before Potter Heigham are the advanced gauge boards for Potter Heigham old bridge. Good water depth throughout, and popular with anglers so avoid fouling lines. You can clearly see the approaches to the old bridge and care should be taken as, at busy times, large craft will be trying to moor up as they are unable to transit the bridge. There is strong tidal flow through the bridge so avoid turning your craft across the flow too close to the bridge for several reasons.
Craft transiting the bridge can only see through the bridge so they will not see you until it is too late. There is also danger that the tide can push you onto the bridge structure in a strong flood tide. Many day boats are hired from yards downstream of the bridge, and a large passenger craft operates from the bank on your port side immediately downstream of Potter Heigham public staithe. Gauge boards for the old bridge are located on the port hand side. Pilots are available - their use is recommended for private craft, and compulsory for hire cruisers.
Upstream of the Old Road Bridge is the New Road Bridge which is easy to navigate. Immediately upstream of the new bridge are two sets of public moorings. The river is wide with good water available all the way to Candle Dyke.
Somerton Reach - The river narrows after passing Candle Dyke to your port. Ahead of you is Martham Ferry. The ferry is a floating bridge which can be swung across the river. Usually the bridge is swung clear of the navigation channel. If not, approach with care and allow your crew to get onboard the bridge and pull on the chains. This will allow it to swing open. You can only gain access to the bridge from the Martham bank on your starboard side. Martham boat dyke is situated immediately upstream of Martham ferry on your starboard side. Martham Dyke is narrow and shallow at the far end so should be avoided unless you are a small craft. The reach upstream from Martham Dyke is often clear and wildlife abundant. Water plants, mainly water lilies and mare’s tail, grow in abundance in the clear water. The Authority actively cuts this growth between April and September. Typically a 2 metre margin is left uncut on both sides of the channel, but the plants may not be visible on the surface. Before reaching Martham Broad you have several sharp bends to navigate and the river narrows. After Martham Broad comes the final approaches to West Somerton with 24 hour moorings available on your port side. The water is clear and all the fish can be seen. Fresh water is available at the end of the moorings where the channel divides into two.
Hickling Broad and Heigham Sound - Candle Dyke is reed-fringed with bank protection piling. The channel opens out with large areas of water on both sides. Duck Broad is to starboard and you must stay in the marked channels at all times. The channel in Heigham Sound is marked by navigation posts and buoys. There are large areas of reed beds on both sides and open water. Outside the channel the water depth is restricted.
Through Hickling Broad, the channel is well marked with navigation posts. Water plants are very common in Hickling Broad, with the marked channel being the only area that is regularly cut, when growth is vigorous. Between April to October, any vessel travelling outside the marked channel is likely to encounter water plants. The final approach to Hickling Staithe and the Pleasure Boat Inn is marked with floating marker buoys, to guide vessels through the shallower water where mobile sediment tends to accumulate in the extreme north-west corner of the broad. Caution must be taken in this area at low water for vessels drawing more than 1.2 m.
Horsey Mere and Meadow Dyke - When entering Meadow Dyke from Heigham Sound be careful to stay in the navigation posts until you enter the dyke. The dyke has good water but meanders back and forth along its entire length. This is one of the most beautiful navigable channels in the broads but the dyke is only just wide enough for two larger craft to pass. On your starboard side you look out across Heigham Holmes and farm buildings can be seen in the distance. You will pass the entrance to Stubbs Mill dyke on your port side but this is only suitable for canoes or dinghies.
At the end of Meadow Dyke is Horsey Mere, a large expanse of water with reasonable water depth, although weed can be a problem near the reed fringed edges so keel boats should take care. There are the remains of an old island marked with posts and buoys in the middle of the Mere. If you continue across the mere to the north east corner you will find Horsey Staithe.
Waxham Cut - Waxham Cut is a narrow dyke leading out from the North West corner of the Mere where the approach is marked by two leading marks. From April 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. At the pumping station at Brograve the channel splits and you should proceed on the starboard channel. At the remains of the mill the channel widens briefly allowing most craft to turn. Only proceed if your craft is less than 30 feet in length or you are capable of reversing your craft back down the whole length of the dyke above the mill. Above Brograve mill the channel is good but can be susceptible to weed. Providing your craft is less than 30 feet in length you can pass beneath the bridge and turn around. Note that this should only to be attempted by the most capable of helmsman.