David Bellamy launches historic ferry crossing link between Burgh St Peter and Carlton Marshes

The sound of a bell has helped to mark the return of a historic river crossing in Waveney.

The bell was last used in the 1950s as a way of attracting the attention of the ferryman who helped walkers cross the river.

But this morning it rang out once more as renowned botanist David Bellamy reopened the link between Norfolk and Suffolk.

The river crossing from Burgh St Peter, in Norfolk, to Carlton Marshes, in Suffolk, is less than 100m but it has not been a strong connection in recent times with the ferry falling out of use and the journey by road more than 30 minutes.

However, Waveney River Centre owners James and Ruth Knight have joined with Suffolk Wildlife Trust to bring the pedestrian ferry service back.

Today Mr Bellamy was invited to re-launch the ferry at a place where his love of nature grew.

He said: 'I first came here 70 years ago and used to swim here when the ferry was working.

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'I started my love, coming here and learning, and I have travelled the world looking after wetlands since then.'

A large crowd gathered for the launch and Mr Bellamy said: 'Thank you for letting me be here on this very special day and I hope in another 20 years or more I will come back and ring this bell again.'

In the 1800s the ferry had provided an important link for south Norfolk villagers to Lowestoft's fish market, however usage fell in the mid 1900s.

James Knight said: 'The post war demand (for the ferry) fell off with the explosion of cars, but now there is an interest again to explore the Broads at a more leisurely pace.'

Matt Gooch, broads reserves warden for Suffolk Wildlife Trust, said they run a lot of activities at Carlton Marshes and hope the ferry will help bring more people who are staying at the centre to them.

The ferry will be used on demand from dawn until dusk. It can take 12 people and is �2 one way, �3 return, or �10 for a family.

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