I can remember spending time at Ranworth Broad as a child. One of my earliest memories is climbing Ranworth Church tower – the sense of achievement of climbing to the top and seeing the Broad below. Adam and I had a rare free day so I thought it would be a chance to visit the Broad and the church as just the two of us.
Ranworth Broad is owned by Norfolk Wildlife Trust and is of national and international importance for wildlife. The Broads were made by people in the Middle Ages as they dug peat for fuel. In the 14th Century the sea level rose which flooded the area and formed the Broads. Growing up in Norfolk it is hard to imagine how much work went into digging the area for peat or what the landscape would have looked like without the Broads.
Adam was fascinated by the boardwalk trail that leads through woodland and reedbed. He loved the small bridges and stopped for some time at each one.
He pointed out each and every flower to me too and told me what colour each one was.
We walked along part of the boardwalk and then along the road to Ranworth Church. Touching each blade of grass on the way up the hill was obviously compulsory.
Ranworth Church dates back to 1370 and is known as the ‘Cathedral of the Broads.’
I remember climbing the tower as a child but it must be at least 5 years since I last went up it. Adam loves climbing so I figured it would be a great activity for him.
However, the steps were steep. Adam had to pull himself up each one. He had managed 10 steps before I vaguely recalled climbing a step ladder the last time I came. There had been a sign before entering but as Adam was so keen to see what was the other side of the door I didnt have time to process what the sign said.
So that would mean 2 ladders then! I decided to see how far we could get. Adam was doing well climbing the uneven spiral stair case and we had counted 30 steps.
Unfortunately two things happened within a few seconds of each other. First a plane went over the church. We were in a very enclosed space and the sound was loud. Adam looked straight at me and cried. We were having a cuddle when the second event happened. The church clock started to chime to say it was 11 o’clock. You can imagine the noise when you are inside a church tower very close to the source of the noise. That was it for Adam. He wanted to get out of there straight away. Unfortunately we had 30 steep uneven steps to get down, with a bag on my back and I was wearing flip flops.By myself!
Adam stopped crying as soon as the clock had stopped chiming but he certainly wasnt going to venture up any more steps. We managed to eventually get down with Adam clinging on to me. So we had some quiet time enjoying inside the church instead.
Next time we attempt Ranworth Church tower Adam will be a little older and Dad-Dad will certainly be with us! The tower will just have to wait for another day.
We ventured back to the boardwalk. In true Adam style he had to run along the boardwalk although I managed to distract him enough for me to fleetingly read the various signs.
The walk way is above a treacherously wet and boggy swamp. The only trees that are able to grow in these conditions are willows and alders. The woodland is known as a ‘carr’ and it is the nearest thing in this country to a ‘tropical’ swamp.
Unfortunately we didn’t get all the way to the floating visitor centre so Ranworth Broad will definitely need another visit soon.
Check our other toddler friendly venues in ‘Adventures of Adam around Norfolk’.
Adam was 2 years old.