The Ultimate Guide to the Best Riverside Spots in Norwich

Garnering its name from the old English word wandsum, or wendsum, meaning ‘winding’, the River Wensum is Norwich’s, and perhaps Norfolk’s largest and most important chalk river.

Like any medieval era city, its proximity to the water was crucial, lending to many of Norwich’s most ancient attractions being set on the banks of the river! While we no longer rely on Wensum the way we used to, we can now truly appreciate its beauty and importance in more ways than one!

Riverside Spots

With the summer nearing its end, now is the time to enjoy what Norwich’s favourite river holds on its banks if you haven’t already. If you’re not sure where to start, don’t fear – here are a few of our recommendations for what the Wensum has to offer!

Cow Tower 

As such a strategically advantageous feature, the Wensum has many historical and heritage sights to offer, and perhaps none show the importance of this river more than the 14th-century artillery tower located in Bishopgate. Just a short walk away from Bishopgate Bridge, another historically important river landmark, Cow Tower bore witness to some of the most shaping events in East Anglia’s rich history. Originally built to protect the city walls from French invaders and English rebels in 1398, it later served as an important landmark during Kett’s Rebellion.

Riverside Spots Cow Tower
Cow Tower

Cow Tower also sits in one of the most picturesque river banks in the northeast region of the city, as a walk can be made to and from the historic cathedral, and directly opposite the tower is a swan pond and picnicking spots!

As a small addendum, if you visit Cow Tower, why not follow the river along, and enjoy the stunning beauty of our next entry, St. James Mill.

St. James Mill

A prime example of Industrial Revolution architecture, St. James Mill has served a variety of different purposes over the years – the site initially being used as early as the 14th century, until the factory was built in 1836 for the textile industry, and even at one point housing a chocolate factory!

Riverside Spots St James Mill
St James Mill

Both Cow Tower and St James Mill are part of the Norwich 12 historical initiative – more information can be found in our couples guide to Norwich.

Anderson’s Meadow 

The best things in life are free – and this adage truly extends to green locations in our ‘fine city’! Finding information about Anderson’s Meadow was difficult, so we’ll keep this one brief. Sandwiched between a wide section of the river and a small tributary, this little gem of greenery can be found northwest, outside of the city – a perfect opportunity to jump in one of our fleet of ABC taxis, to save your legs for the beautiful wild swimming location! 

Riverside Spots Andersons Meadow
Andersons Meadow

Fishing also takes place along this section of the river, so whether you’re looking for a solo expedition, or a spot to spend the day by the river with friends or family, make your next outing here!

The Ribs of Beef

As far as relaxing with a drink and a view of the river, you can’t really get more genuine than the Ribs of Beef. A true Norwich institution, the Ribs of Beef is one of the few pubs in Norwich that has maintained the same ownership for over thirty years (which must put it in the standings of pubs in the country)! This charming 14th-century building was home to many a business until 1743, when it was first christened the Ribs of Beef, and stayed ever since.

Riverside Spots Ribs
Ribs Of Beef

While many pubs can be found near the river – for example, The Playhouse Theater, further in the city – the Ribs has a distinct advantage with its riverside terrace, which is perfect for any summer’s afternoon looking over the water! With a wide selection of food, and an even wider selection of beers, ranging from local ales to craft lagers, the Ribs is a true Wensum must-see! 

More information regarding the menu and location can be found at

Pub and Paddle 

We do like to save the best till last – if water activities are more your style, or if you find yourself near the Ribs of Beef and fancy yourself a riverboat exploration, the Pub and Paddle boat hire is almost definitely for you! We suggest this activity is enjoyed before your visit to the pub! 

Riverside Spots Pub and Paddle
Pub and Paddle

Offering three different routes, ranging from a short 4, to a 7 hour expedition, accompanied with guided pub stops for drinks and lunch along the Wensum, and visiting important riverside buildings and locations, this Canadian Canoe hiring spot is perfect for any day out, with the family, friends or even those active couples out there! Pub and Paddle even offer a picnic boating package for larger groups, and an evening paddling package. With affordable prices, ranging from £20 per person, there is no reason not to explore the Wensum the best way possible – by gliding along its gorgeous winding bends!

You can find the pub and paddle right next to the quay adjacent to the Ribs of Beef – for more information, regarding prices, journeys and bookings, please visit –