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Norfolk Nature Reserves & Bird Watching

Norfolk plays host to some of the most important nature reserves in Europe. The international importance of The Norfolk Broads as one of the significant wetland areas cannot be understated and our shores are littered with sites of interest, whether you're a keen naturalist or a tourist who's enjoying the scenery.

Berney Marshes Nature Reserve

The RSPB Berney Marshes Nature Reserve lies on the west bank where the Yare and Waveney Rivers flow into the Breydon Water estuary towards Great Yarmouth. There's some 359 hectares of land, much of which is grazing marsh with some salt marsh areas (called rond) fringing the rivers.

The warden is Mark Smart, Ashtree Farm, Goodchild Marine, Burgh Castle. Telephone: (01493) 700645 or (01603) 715191.

The RSPB organises boat trips on a monthly basis - telephone (01603) 715191 for dates, bookings and prices.

Telephone: 01603 661662
Web Link:
Closest Holiday Cottages: Providence Place - Garth Cottage

Breydon Water Nature Reserve

Breydon Water is an inland estuary to the west of Great Yarmouth. It attracts many types of waders and ducks and has many interesting plants. The mud flats that are accessible at low tide can be reached by footpaths from Great Yarmouth starting from Haven Bridge or Vauxhall Railway Station.

Telephone: 01493 700643
Closest Holiday Cottages: Providence Place - Garth Cottage

Norfolk Wildlife Trust Cley Marshes

Cley Marshes (pronounced Cligh) is one of the UK's premier bird watching sites. Hides provide a bird watching utopia and there are boardwalks with which to explore the area more fully.

The reserve is open daily and the Visitor Centre is open through the year. Late March to early December 10.00am - 5.00pm and reduced hours March and December.

Telephone: 01263 740008
Web Link:
Closest Holiday Cottage: The Old Post Office - Garth Cottage

Hickling Broad Nature Reserve, Hickling

Hickling is the largest of all the Norfolk Broads. Bordered by reed and sedge beds with a good degree of and oak woodland also. A visit to Hickling Broad will reveal many species of bird, particularly during migration. An observation hide is strategically placed for watchers. A 60ft tree tower helps give a stunning overview of this vast wetland (which is also a premier sailing venue) and a water trail onboard a traditional reed lighter boat (now electric) will get you out onto the water.

The reserve is open all year, with the Visitor Centre being on Stubb Road, Hickling. This is open April to mid September daily, 10.00am - 5.00pm. Wheelchair access to Visitor Centre, toilets and boardwalk.

Telephone: 01692 598276
Web Links:
Closest Holiday Cottages: Providence Place - Garth Cottage

National Trust Horsey Mere

Extensive reed beds and close proximity to the sea, (just a few hundred yards), Horsey Mere attracts many winter wildfowl and occasional swans.

Closed to general boat navigation from October to March, over wintering wildlife is undisturbed and thus Horsey provides a fantastic winter home for migratory birds.

Horsey Estate is a National Trust property and there is a Car Park onsite along with toilet facilities and a small cafe & gift shop during season.

Of additional interest is Horsey Mill, a famous local landmark of a restored water mill - also open during season. There is wheelchair access to a view point over mere.

Telephone: 01493 393904.
Web Link:
Closest Holiday Cottage: Providence Place - Garth Cottage

Norfolk Wildlife Trust Ranworth Broad

Ranworth Broad has been closed off to river traffic for many years and has become a haven for wildlife. A boardwalk through Carr woodland leads from the road to the edge of the broad and a wonderful information centre with a hide/viewing platform(covered).

The visitor centre offers hands-on learning opportunities and will captivate youngsters as well as adults.

Disabled access to centre and 450m boardwalk. Wildfowl, Broadland wild flowers, butterflies and dragonflies, boat trips available.

Also worth visiting is St Helens Church, Ranworth. Located on a high point just outside the village, St Helens, dubbed the Cathedral of the Broads, has an ancient Rood Screen and the tower is open most days for an unparalleled view over the magnificent Broadland landscape.

Boardwalk open daily, Visitor Centre open April to October, 10.00am - 5.00pm

Telephone: 01603 270479
Web Link:
Closest Holiday Cottages: Providence Place - Garth Cottage

Martham Broad

Photo - Swallowtail ButterflyLocated within The Broads National Park about 2 km north of the village of Martham.

The nature reserve is maintained by the Norfolk Wildlife Trust and is part of the Upper Thurne Broads and Marshes, a Site of Special Scientific Interest Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI). It is owned and managed by Norfolk Wildlife Trust and comprises of open water, reed and saw-sedge fen. It is a shallow, brackish lake. The reed swamp consists of common reed and lesser reedmace. In summer, the rare and Norfolk Native swallowtail butterfly can be seen.

Boats are permitted to use only a narrow marked channel through the broad and they are discouraged from navigation during the winter months due to the breeding season. A footpath through the reserve borders the River Thurne towards its end at Somerton and access to the broad's edge is possible.

Web Link: Norfolk Wildlife Trust
Closest Holiday Cottages:
Providence Place - Garth Cottage

Strumpshaw Fen, near Brundall, Norwich

This is a small broad managed by the RSPB boasting reed beds, woodland and wildflower meadows. It supports over-wintering and breeding birds, the rare Norfolk Swallowtail Butterflies and many other rare wildlife. Guided walks, displays and hides available. Open all year, except Christmas Day.

Telephone: (01603) 715191.
Web Link:
Closest Holiday Cottage: Providence Place - Garth Cottage

How Hill, Toad Hole Cottage, Ludham

This Broadland Estate hosts reed and sedge beds, marsh and grazing land, plus water and walking wildlife water trail. A nature trail goes through the estate and a water trial can be experienced upon "electric eel", an Edwardian style passenger boat. Open daily from Easter to the end of October. Guided boat trips daily from June to September and some sailings in April/May and October.

Marsh harriers, water birds, cormorants, swallowtail butterflies, dragonflies, wild flowers and ferns can all be seen at different times of the year.

Telephone: (01692) 678763
Web link:
Closest Holiday Cottages: Providence Place - Garth Cottage

Blakeney Point

Blakeney Point is one of the largest expanses of undeveloped coastal habitats of its type in Europe. It consists of a long sand and shingle spit of land that pokes out into the wash along the North Norfolk Coast and is home to many birds and other wildlife.

A common sight at Blakeney is the large seal colony that live and breed on the tip of the point. Regular boat trips run from Morston Quay to get a unique view of these fabulous creatures from the water.

Web link:
Closest Holiday Cottage: The Old Post Office


This is an extensive area of saltmarsh, intertidal mud and sandflats situated along the North Norfolk Coast amidst a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (ANOB). It is also the site of the Roman fort of Branodunum and Scolt Head Island

There is a private ferry that casts off from Burnham Overy Staithe (weather permitting) taking visitors to the National Nature Reserve on Scolt Head Island, managed by English Nature. This is an important breeding site for four species of tern, oystercatcher and ringed plover.

Note: It is dangerous to walk over the saltmarshes and sandflats at low tide.

Ferry: 01485 210456.
English Nature Warden: 01328 711866
Web Link:
Closest Holiday Cottage: The Old Post Office

Southrepps Common

This a reed dominated valley fen. A boardwalk enables access to much of the common and in short turf areas, many fen plants can be found.

Local parking facilities and information boards available.

Telephone: 01263 833593
Web Link:
Closest Holiday Cottage:
The Old Post Office

Winterton Sand Dunes

The beach at Winterton includes a large area of sand dunes, which are protected by the Nature Conservancy Council because of the coastal plants and birds that inhabit the area. During the summer, thousands of Little Terns breed on and around the beaches with the Marram Grass dunes playing host to many other species. The Beach at Winterton often has a small beach pool at low tide.

Closest Holiday Cottage: Providence Place

Further information

The following links will provide you with many more sites of natural interest.

Norfolk Holiday Search

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Guest Book Comments

We had a very enjoyable week in this very comfortable cottage. The weather has been great which has been a bonus after the rain at Centre Parcs last week. We enjoyed some nice trips to the beach at Overstrand. Holkham beach is beautiful, it is well worth the walk. We also endt rowing on Hickling Broad and enjoyed a trip on the Bure Valley Steam Railway, then a boat trip on the Norfolk Broads. The childres also really enjoyed the boat trip out to see the seals from Morston. Thanks
Kathy, Danny, Sam & Harry
The Old Post Office
August 2007

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