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The Phantom Drummer Boy of Hickling Broad

The Phantom Drummer Boy of Hickling Broad

All summer long Hickling Broad teems with holidaymakers from across the world, their pleasure boats and canoes crowding the waterways. Yet in winter the tourists leave, boatyards are shut and a wilder, elemental beauty rises like dawn mist. Pale whispering reeds sway in elegant dances, and paths and boardwalks are all yours. Boats are moored tight against wooden quays, masts clinking in easterly winds. When iron grey cold grips the landscape, the Broads freeze. Stop for a moment. In the clean air there’s the sound of a drum. Slow and steady, carried on the wind.

It’s an age old story of forbidden love. Two hundred years ago, a carefree drummer boy fell in love with a sweet natured girl. But the boy was poor and the girl’s father was rich and proud. He ordered his daughter never to see the lowly drummer boy again. But true love will not be denied so the lovers married in secret. Each night they met on the banks of the Broad. And when Arctic chill turned the water to ice, the boy would skate slowly across, beating his drum, signalling to his young wife. Wrapped against the bitter cold she waited, her heart beating in tandem with the soft rhythm of his drum. One night, the ice cracked like a gunshot. And the beat stopped forever.

Yet, on winter nights, it’s said the boy’s frozen spirit searches for her still, his drum beating for eternal love, the sound of every human heart.


Hickling Broad, Norfolk Broads


30 minutes


Sensory Experience






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