North Norfolk, known as the bird-watching capital of Britain, sits in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and has a wealth of nature reserves to see wildlife up close.
Here are Visit North Norfolk’s pick of the top places to get back to nature and explore the best of the countryside:-
Take along the binoculars to visit the 45-acre Sculthorpe Moor Community Nature Reserve, with its rich variety of wildlife and woodland, fen and reedbed habitats. Located in the beautiful Wensum Valley, the reserve is managed by the Hawk and Owl Trust. The elevated Whitley Hide gives spectacular views over the fen and reedbed and visitors can try and spot tawny and barn owls, kingfisher, great spotted woodpecker, roosting harriers, and cuckoos. Suggested donations for adults is £3.50.
Stay in a working farm adjacent to 365 acres of Norfolk Wildlife Trust woodland at Moor Farm in the village of Foxley. The wood is ideal for birdwatching and is carpeted in bluebells during May, while the farm is ideal for keen anglers with two well stocked lakes. The Old Stables have been converted into eight separate holiday cottages of varying sizes, in addition to the traditional Moor Farm Cottage and Shamrock Cottage.From £240 per week.
Stay in ‘the best holiday park in the country’ at Kelling Heath at Holt which picked-up VisitEngland’s Holiday Park / Holiday Village of the Year award. Set amongst 250 acres of woodland and rare open heathland, it’s popular with star-gazers thanks to its rural location and big open skies. Miles of woodland and heathland trails are ideal for cycling and the wildlife on offer includes a Red Squirrel breeding programme, nightjars and the rare Silver-studded Blue butterfly. As well as camping and caravan options, visitors can also stay in woodland lodges. Three-night weekend breaks in a two bedroom woodland lodge start from £277.
Spot some common and grey seals up-close on a Searles Sea Tour. Leaving from Hunstanton, seeing the seals is an unforgettable experience and provides a chance to take in panoramic views across The Wash. Tour prices for adults start from £9 with children £4.50 and under 2’s go free.
The Norfolk Broads are the UK’s largest protected wetland and as such, support many different species. From birds to mammals, the wildlife living on the Broads is richly varied and is a dream for twitchers. The area is home to bitterns, the tufted duck, Canada geese and black headed gull, as well as the Chinese water deer and the Swallowtail butterfly. Explore the area by taking to the water with boat-hire specialists Herbert Woods. Boats depart from Potter Heigham and are available to hire from £16.00 an hour.
Boat trips are essential on a stay at Seven Acres House at Coltishall thanks to its proximity to the Broads. Surrounded by open countryside on the western edge of the Broads and situated on a country lane, Seven Acres is set in extensive grounds with lawns, a woodland dell and meadow providing the opportunity for a gentle ramble. The location is ideal for walking and cycling with local cycle hire available.
North Norfolk is famous for its birds with hundreds of thousands of people visiting the area each year to enjoy them. April to August is a special time on the coast when birds are breeding. Some of these are particularly vulnerable to disturbance by people because they nest on beaches. This group includes three species of terns, ringed plovers and oystercatchers. Of these, the two species at highest risk are little terns and ringed plovers. The Norfolk Coast Partnership promotes the sustainable use of the Norfolk Coast Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) and aims are to conserve and enhance the natural beauty of the area and to enhance public enjoyment. At other times of year, the coast is visited by large numbers of migrating and wintering birds.
Alternatively cycle routes through the Norfolk countryside are abundant. Nelson’s Norfolk Cycling route is a 29-mile circular route starting and ending in Fakenham Market Place. It includes visits to Nelson’s birthplace Burnham Thorpe, Holkham Hall and the attractive village of Little Walsingham, world-renowned as a centre of pilgrimage.
Enjoy a hot tub in the woods and merge in with the surroundings at Woodland Holiday Park at Trimingham. Choose from one, two or three bedroom timber built lodges all complete with hot tub or stay in a caravan. Perfectly situated for exploring the beautiful north Norfolk area, the sheltered grounds host abundant wildlife and the spectacular heritage coast is close by.
Get up close to animals in a real farmyard setting at Wroxham Barns Junior Farm. Feed the rabbits, groom the horses, bottle feed the lambs and collect eggs from the henhouse. New this year is an undercover piggery, pony yard and poultry pens. £5.75 per person, with under 2′s free.
Explore Pensthorpe Wildlife & Gardens’ 500 acre reserve in Fakenham. The former host of BBC Springwatch, Pensthorpe is celebrating its 25thbirthday and continues to captivate visitors with its unique surroundings and thousands of bird, plant and wildlife species who call it home. The reserve combines stunning areas of wetland, gardens, meadows and farmland, and visitors can look out for Avocets, Lapwings, Little Ringed Plovers and Kingfishers who breed there. In July 2013 Pensthorpe launched a new £1million attraction named WildRootz geared up to connect children with rural Britain. £10.75 for Adults, £9.00 for Seniors and £7.50 for children aged 3-16 (includes reserve and WildRootz).
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