Holkham National Nature Reserve

Holkham National Nature Reserve is on the Norfolk coast between Burnham Overy Staithe and Blakeney. Its 3,900 hectares comprise a wide range of habitats, including grazing marsh, woodland, salt marsh, sand dunes and foreshore. Holkham NNR is important for its wintering wildfowl, especially pink-footed geese, Eurasian wigeon and brant geese.

About Holkham National Nature Reserve in brief

Summary Holkham National Nature ReserveHolkham National Nature Reserve is on the Norfolk coast between Burnham Overy Staithe and Blakeney. Its 3,900 hectares comprise a wide range of habitats, including grazing marsh, woodland, salt marsh, sand dunes and foreshore. Holkham NNR is important for its wintering wildfowl, especially pink-footed geese, Eurasian wigeon and brant geese. It also has breeding waders, and attracts many migrating birds in autumn. It is one of the only two sites in the UK to have an antlion colony. The reserve has over 100,000 visitors a year, including birdwatchers and horse riders, and is therefore significant for the local economy. The salt marshes on this coast are stated in the Site of Special Scientific Interest notification document to be among the best in Europe. The dunes are an essential natural defence against the projected rises in sea level along this vulnerable coast. The flat ground from reclaimed salt marsh until the 1940 was converted to arable land during World War II. The value of the land to wildlife was reduced by the reduced water table, but Natural England’s management measures have raised the water levels, attracting wintering birds and attracting the key wintering species. The number of species rose from 120 pairs of ten species in 1986 to 795 pairs of species in 1994, and the number of wild fowl breeding pairs rose from 795 to 26 pairs in 1986. The Reserve can be accessed by footpaths from Wells and the local villages including the Peddars WayNorfolk Coast long-distance trail that traverses the main part of the reserve, and National Cycle Route 1 loops through the core of the NNR.

There is a car park nearHolkham village at the north end of Lady Anne’s Drive that gives access to two bird hides, and another parking area at the end of Beach Road in Wells. The 3rd Earl planted pines on the dunes to protect the pastures reclaimed by his predecessors from wind-blown sand. The pines have provided shelter for other trees and shrubs to become established, making this the only substantial area of woodland in the North Norfolk Coast SSSI. The sand islands in Holk Ham Bay have formed only within the last 60 years, and there is a public footpath running along the southern edge of these tidal areas. To the east of the Wells channel, the reserve is mainly salt marsches and mud flats and is difficult and potentially dangerous to access, although a publicFootpath runs along theSouthern edge of the tidal areas has been created by the 1859 reclamation of the marshes between the coast and the shingle ridge which started in the 17th century, and was completed in 1859. The reserve was created in 1967 from 1,700 hectares of the HolKham Estate and 2,200 hectares of foreshore belonging to the Crown. It is part of both an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and a World Biosphere Reserve.