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Introduction

The Broads are a network of mostly navigable rivers and lakes in the English counties of Norfolk and Suffolk. The lakes, known locally as broads, were formed by the flooding of peat workings. The Broads, and some surrounding land, were constituted as a special area with a level of protection equivalent to a national park by the Norfolk and Suffolk Broads Act 1988. The Broads has similar status to the national parks in England and Wales; the Broads Authority has powers and duties akin to the national parks, but is also the third-largest inland navigation authority.

The total area is 303 square kilometres, most of which is in Norfolk, with over 200 kilometres of navigable waterways. There are seven rivers and 63 broads, mostly less than 4 metres deep. Thirteen broads are generally open to navigation, with a further three having navigable channels. Some broads have navigation restrictions imposed on them in autumn and winter.

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Geography

The Broads largely follows the line of the rivers and natural navigations of the area. There are seven navigable rivers, the River Yare and its (direct and indirect) tributaries the Rivers Bure, Thurne, Ant, Waveney, Chet and Wensum. There are no longer any operational locks on any of the rivers (except for Mutford Lock in Oulton Broad that links to the saltwater Lake Lothing in Lowestoft, Suffolk), but all of the waterways are subject to tidal influence. The tidal range decreases with distance from the sea, with highly tidal areas such as Breydon Water contrasted with effectively non-tidal reaches such as the River Ant upstream of Barton Broad.

The broads themselves range in size from small pools to the large expanses of Hickling Broad, Barton Broad and Breydon Water. The broads are unevenly distributed, with far more broads in the northern half of Broadland (the Rivers Bure, Thurne and Ant) than in the central and southern portions (the Rivers Yare, Waveney, Chet and Wensum). Individual broads may lie directly on the river, or are more often situated to one side and connected to the river by an artificial channel or dyke.

Besides the natural watercourses of the rivers, and the ancient but artificial broads, there is one more recent navigation canal, the lock-less Haddiscoe Cut which connects the Rivers Yare and Waveney whilst permitting boats to by-pass Breydon Water.

There is also a second navigable link to the sea, via the River Waveney and its link to Oulton Broad. Oulton Broad is part of the Broads tidal system, but is immediately adjacent to Lake Lothing which acts as a harbour for Lowestoft and connects to the North Sea. Oulton Broad and Lake Lothing are connected by Mutford Lock, the only lock on the broads and necessary because of the different tidal ranges and cycles in the two lakes.

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This is version 2. Last edited at 7:27 on Aug 5, 16 by Utrecht. 4 articles link to this page.

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