Norfolk - Broads, Brecks and coast
Norfolk is justly known as one of Britain’s best counties for wildlife. From a base just north of Norwich, we’ll explore a diverse range of habitats in search of early-summer wildlife.
We will spend our first day in Broadland, England’s most important lowland wetland, where we will visit the Yare Valley. Hairy Dragonfly, Norfolk Hawker and Swallowtail butterflies are among the rare creatures we may see on the wing over fens full of fascinating plantlife. Marsh Harriers are busy hunting, Bitterns are booming and the reedbeds are alive with the song of freshly-returned warblers. Nearby, we will check out the dune vegetation at the coast, where Dark Green Fritillary and Green Hairstreak may be on the wing.
We will visit Breckland, Norfolk’s historic sandy grassland, where Mediterranean plants and insects have their northern-most outposts and Stone Curlews have their national stronghold. Though the landscape has changed dramatically, with the introduction of modern agriculture and forestry, we’ll find quiet corners of the Brecks where we can still explore the fascinating history and natural history of these unique grasslands.
Heading to the famous North Norfolk Coast, we will take a privately-chartered boat trip out to Blakeney Point, where we will visit the busy colonies of breeding terns and pupping seals. We will also visit the famous Cley Marshes reserve, where we will watch elegant Avocets and dozing Spoonbills, and listen out for pinging Bearded Tits, and then head inland to Kelling Heath, where Dartford Warblers and Woodlark may be seen, with early butterflies and reptiles also in our sights.
Please note that holidays change, although sometimes only slightly, from year to year and previous trip reports may not reflect the planned itinerary, or other holiday details, for the current trip. Please ask us if you would like to know of any significant differences.
Day 1 Our holiday starts in Crostwick where we will meet this evening at our hotel in time for an introduction to the holiday and our first dinner together.
Day 2 We head south to the RSPB reserve at Strumpshaw Fen. Here, Cetti’s Warbler may be singing, while we listen out for the squeals of secretive Water Rail, and the yelps of Marsh Harriers. Chinese Water Deer graze along the edge of the reeds, however much of our attention will be on insects. One of the stars of the reserve is the impressive Swallowtail, Britain’s largest butterfly, restricted to the fens of Broadland. Many dragonfly species will be present including Variable Damselfly and Hairy Dragonfly, but the real local speciality is the Norfolk Hawker that relies on clean water ditches filled with floating Water Soldier. In the afternoon we head to Winterton Dunes, where Skylarks sing overhead and interesting butterflies could include the first Dark Green Fritillaries of the season.
Day 3 No trip to Norfolk is complete without a visit to Breckland: this ancient grassland once covered a huge area of the south-west of the county and neighbouring Suffolk. Today only small remnants remain and the most celebrated among them is Norfolk Wildlife Trust’s Weeting Heath. The stronghold of Stone Curlew conservation, this beautiful reserve boasts an intact Breckland flora, though it is usually not possible to walk onto the grassland. We’ll visit the RSPB’s Lakenheath, where Hobbies hawk overhead, while Common Cranes might be seen flying to and from their nests.
Day 4 We start the day at Morston Quay and take a boat trip out through the creeks and channels through the saltmarsh, to the sand and single banks of Blakeney Point. Here we will find a large colony of both Grey and Common Seals at the start of the pupping season for the smaller Common Seal. The Point is also home to breeding colonies of Little, Sandwich, Common and Arctic Tern. We’ll then visit Cley Marshes to look for birds including elegant Avocet, reedbeds full of singing Reed and Sedge Warblers and, with luck, characterful ‘pinging’ Bearded Tits. Heading inland, we end the afternoon at Kelling Heath, where Dartford Warbler and Stonechat sing from the heather and gorse, butterflies should include Green Hairstreak and Small Copper, and we will watch out for reptiles.
Day 5 One final breakfast, and then it is time to bid farewell to The Old Rectory and to Norfolk and to head home, hopefully taking some good memories of the big skies and wonderful wildlife of the Norfolk summer.
Please note that the itinerary may be changed to suit the weather or other practicalities at the discretion of the leaders.
Our accommodation will be at The Old Rectory in the village of Crostwick, which lies 10 minutes north of Norwich on the B1150 towards North Walsham. All rooms are en-suite.
We shall be taking packed lunches each day. Evening meals will be taken at our hotel, Requests for special diets can be accommodated.
Our transport for this trip will be by small coach or minibus. Our 1.5 hour boat trip to Blakeney Point will be in a traditional Norfolk ferry.
If you would like to extend your stay in Norfolk, we can book extra nights accommodation at the hotel, and give advice on good places to visit.
Travel to Crostwick is not included in this holiday.
The nearest train station is Norwich.
The English summer is of course unpredictable. The weather could be hot and sunny on some days and cold and wet on others! We will adapt our itinerary to the weather. It can be ‘breezy’ or even windy on the coast at times. We will not walk for long in adverse weather conditions. Evenings can be cold.
We will be keeping to the government’s rules on social distancing for this trip, with the final group size dependent on those rules at the time of the holiday.
We will ask travellers to wear face coverings while on the bus, and will ensure there is plenty of space to enable social distancing, with hand sanitiser available at all times.
We will be walking for much of the day, each day, albeit at a slow pace. In some locations ‘facilities’ are scarce! You therefore need to have a reasonably good level of fitness although none of the walks are strenuous. There are likely to be steps at the hotel, and you also need to be able to step into and out of the small (12 person) boat.