What are they?
An area of 125 miles of inland waterways providing a boating paradise. The area is also home to some of the rarest plants and animals in the UK such as the swallowtail butterfly (found nowhere else in Britain).
Why are they special?
There are 63 broads and other permanent bodies of water linked to the six rivers within the Broads area and a network of dykes. These are part of Britain’s largest protected wetland and third largest inland waterway.
The broads are manmade shallow lakes, the remains of peat diggings. The peat was dug out in medieval times (from around the 9th to the 14th centuries) when it was used as fuel for heating and cooking. Over the centuries the water levels rose and the peat diggings flooded, creating the Broads we see today.
Tell us something we didn’t know
Until recently the Broads were thought to be natural lakes. In 1952 Dr Joyce Lambert carried out research which showed the banks of the broads had straight sides, rather than the sloping sides associated with natural lakes. This established they were manmade – although many remained sceptical.