Broadland Nature Reserves

Norfolk Wildlife Trust 

Royal Society for the Protection of Birds

Suffolk Wildlife Trust

Butterfly Conservation

Broads Authority

Norfolks nature reserves

National Trust

Alderfen Reserve. This has a small broad surrounded by fen and scrub and alder carr. The path leads to an observation platform overlooking the water. Parking is down a track from Three Hammer Common.

Barton Broad National Nature Reserve. Since the removal of a layer of phosphate rich sediment from the broad, the water is much clearer and the plant and animal life is returning. The River Ant and waterways to Stalham, Sutton and Dilham (the last not a nature reserve) to the north of the broad are very beautiful with water lilies, insect life and birds.

Boat trips in the steam-powered launch ‘Falcon’ are available from Stalham at the Museum of the Broads. These operate throughout the summer months.

At Barton Turf there are moorings at the Staithe and Paddy’s Lane. Gay’s Staithe and Neatishead moorings are along Limekiln Dyke. Wood End Staithe off the east side of the broad has space for a few boats. Moorings also available at Irstead Staithe.

Parking at Barton Turf Staithe allows some views of the broad.

The Broads Authority’s boardwalk through Heron’s Carr to the viewing platform at Turkey Broad at the southern end of Barton Broad gives non-boating visitors a chance to experience wetland wildlife and landscapes. There is disabled parking near the boardwalk entrance on Irstead Road while general parking is at Long Road, near Gay’s Staithe.

Hickling Broad National Nature Reserve. From the Visitor Centre there are trails and boardwalks through the reed beds and grazing marshes to hides looking over the broad, pools and scrapes. In summer the Water Trail boat takes visitors to secluded pools and hides and the observation tower. At dusk the raptor roost in the marshes can be observed from a bank near Stubb Mill. The NWT Visitor Centre is sign-posted along Stubb Road out of Hickling village. There is a footpath from Hickling Staithe (near the Pleasure Boat Inn) to the Visitor Centre.

There are excellent moorings on the broad at Deep Dyke and Deep-Go Dyke while the staithe at the Pleasure Boat Inn is popular. The staithe at the end of Catfield Dyke is quiet and close to the reserve and its wildlife.

Car parking at the Pleasure Boat Inn.

Martham Broad National Nature Reserve. The wildlife of the North and South Broads can be seen from the river between Dungeon Corner and West Somerton Staithe. The water is usually gin-clear and all kinds of fish can be seen amongst the water plants. From the south side of the staithe the rond path to Dungeon Corner has views over Martham South Broad.

Parking for the walk is near the green at West Somerton.

Ample moorings at West Somerton Staithe.

Upton Fen and Broads. This area is isolated from the River Bure and is spring-fed and is therefore a very special site with rare flowers and abundant damselfly and dragonfly species. There are paths beside the dykes and ‘floating fen’. Upton Great Broad can be observed from a viewing platform.

Parking is near Pilson Green.

Ranworth Broad and Fen. The floating Broads Wildlife Centre overlooks the broad. Visitors can either walk through alder carr and fen along a boardwalk or take a water taxi from Ranworth Staithe across Malthouse Broad.

Moorings and parking at Ranworth Staithe.

Cockshoot Broad: The boardwalk laid out by the Broads Authority is aligned beside the River Bure and Cockshoot Dyke and leads to a hide over-looking the Broad.

Parking and mooring at the south bank of River Bure opposite the Ferry Inn, Horning.

Note that Ranworth and Cockshoot Broads are part of the Bure Marshes National Nature Reserve.


Strumpshaw Fen Nature Reserve. This reserve has many habitats – woodland, meadow, pools, scrapes and dykes. There is much to see from the hides and walks.

For directions click here

Buckenham and Cantley Marshes. These grazing marshes with their freshwater dykes (i.e. not connected to the main River Yare) have a wide assemblage of meadow and aquatic plants. In winter they are roosts for several species of geese, including England’s only regular wintering flock of bean geese.

Access from the Strumpshaw Fen Reserve is by a country lane.

Surlingham Church Marsh. This reserve has a trail and hides.

Parking near Surlingham Church. Moorings at Bramerton Woods End or the Ferry House, Surlingham and then a river bank walk (part of The Wherryman’s Way).

The reserves listed above comprise the Mid-Yare National Nature Reserve.

Berney Arms Marshes and Breydon Water. Includes 365 ha (902 acres) of the Halvergate Marshes and much of Breydon Water (which it adjoins). In winter these areas have many waders feeding on the mud flats and marshes. Some species breed on the marshes in spring. There are footpaths from Gt.Yarmouth on the north and south embankments of Breydon Water. The northern path continues to the Berney Marshes – a walk of 4 miles, or walk from Wickhampton.

Parking in the ASDA car park in Gt.Yarmouth.

The marshes can be reached by alighting at the nearby Berney Arms station on the single-track railway between Reedham and Gt. Yarmouth. However, this is by special request, and only a few trains stop there.

Ample moorings at the Berney Arms.

Boat trips from Goodchild Marina at Burgh Castle.

The restored ‘Southern Belle’ gives return trips from Stonecutters Quay in Gt. Yarmouth to Reedham in the summer.

In winter, the RSPB organises boat trips to see the birds on Breydon Water and the mud flats. Telephone the Strumpshaw Visitor Centre for details – 01603 715191.


Camps Heath and Oulton Marshes. These two reserves are close to the Dutch Tea Gardens Site moorings at the southern end of Oulton Dyke. They have grazing meadows, fen habitat and dykes.

Parking in Church Road, Camps Heath for both sites. Walk down Fisher Row to Oulton Marshes.

Carlton Marshes. This reserve is south of Oulton Dyke and has grazing marshes, fens and peat pools – Spratts Water and Round Water. Parking is down Burnt Hill Lane off the A146 Lowestoft to Beccles Road.

Castle Marshes. These grazing marshes to the south of the River Waveney have freshwater dykes and some fen areas and are flooded in the winter. Permission for access is needed from the SWT but the reserve can be viewed from the river bank walk – the Angles Way near Barnby.

North Cove Reserve. Here there is a trail with four hides through varied habitats. Parking in Barnby. Mooring at Worlingham Staithe and walk east along the Angles Way beside the River Waveney.

River trips on the River Waveney are organised by the Broads Authority using the pleasure launch ‘Liana’ from Beccles


Wheatfen Broad Reserve. This renowned reserve has marked trails with hides through the varied wetland habitats.

Parking is via Surlingham. Nearest mooring is Rockland St. Mary Staithe.


Catfield Fen Reserve: Owned by and managed by Butterfly Conservation in order to safeguard the Swallowtail Butterfly and its larval food-plant – Milk Parsley – and also to conserve areas of fen and alder carr forming the habitat of rare invertebrates and plants. Parts of the reserve are managed in the traditional way to provide commercial crops of reed and sedge for the thatching industry.

The walk on the rond that borders the west and south of the fen is always open. Care must be taken to stay in the centre of the path as the bordering dyke has soft banks and deep water.

For safety reasons the fen itself can only be visited by guided tours on Open Days.

Limited parking at Fenside. And a very small mooring space at Wood End Staithe, off Barton Broad.

The reserve is part of the Ant Broads & Marshes National Nature Reserve.


How Hill: Cromes Broad, Reedham Water and their adjoining fens and marshes were designated a National Nature Reserve by Natural England in May 2006.

There is booking for the Electric Eel Water Trail to the hide over-looking Reedham Water at the Information Centre and Museum at Toad Hole Cottage. Also the marked trail to the hide at Crome’s Broad begins here.

Ample parking and moorings at How Hill.

Buttles Marsh: Drained farmland being returned to reed bed and dykes.

Path from the south of How Hill moorings.

Ample parking and moorings at How Hill.

Each year the Broads Authoature reserves, opportunities for pond-dipping, outings for bird, butterfly and bat watching and guided water trails in canoes.

Norfolk Nature Reserves

Bure Marshes National Nature Reserve. This reserve was established in 1958 by agreements negotiated with owners of Woodbastwick Fen and Hoveton Great Broad, and with NWT, as owners of Ranworth and Cockshoot Broad reserves. The Woodbastwick Fens can be viewed from Ferry Lane, which makes a convenient starting off point for those wishing to walk to Cockshoot Broad on the Broads Authority’s boardwalk. From time to time, Natural England organises walks through other parts of Woodbastwick Fen.

The Hoveton Great Broad section of the reserve can be viewed between April and mid-September from the boardwalk leading across the fens bordering this Broad. This walkway can only be reached by boat. A ferry service between Salhouse Broad and the moorings adjoining the boardwalk operates on some days in the summer – details can be obtained from Natural England.

Ludham – Potter Heigham National Nature Reserve. These grazing marshes are managed to conserve the wildlife in the dykes. They can be viewed from tracks and rond paths around the marshes.

Many moorings in Womack Water. Parking via Horsefen Road, Ludham.

Winterton Dunes National Nature Reserve. This large area of dunes has many types of habitat – marram grass dune, heath, dune slacks and brackish pools – each with its associated wildlife.

Parking at the end of Beach Road, Winterton. Nearest mooring is West Somerton Staithe.


The following two sites form part of the Horsey Estate. This is owned by the National Trust but is managed by the Buxton family as life tenants.

Horsey Mere. The Mere is bordered by the NWT Hickling Broad NNR and the Horsey Estate grazing marshes and reed beds. The periphery is buoyed off to allow aquatic plants to grow and support fish and birds. Navigators are requested not to use Horsey Mere in the winter.

Mooring at Horsey Staithe.

Ample parking at the Staithe where there is a National Trust shop and a restored wind pump open to the public.

Horsey Warren. The car park at the end of the track from Horsey Corner gives access to the beach and dunes. Many flowers and butterflies flourish in the summer months. The seasonal migration of birds can be watched from the higher dunes. The southern end of these dunes can be reached by a walk from Horsey Staithe via the track leading past the Nelson Head public house.

Heigham Holmes. This is an area of grazing marshes and dykes that can only be reached by the ferry bridge at Martham. In winter it is a roost for geese. For one day in late summer each year, it is open to the public.