Head East

The new routes for the autumn and winter months wind through spectacular rural and coastal landscapes in Norfolk, immersing walkers in nature’s sounds, smells and textures. Choose one… or do all three!

Twilight Time in Buckenham Marshes (starting point is Buckenham Carr, October to March)

The area around Buckenham Marshes offers a unique opportunity to see the special changes which take place within the natural landscape during that liminal time-zone between dusk and nightfall. Make your hideaway in the grassy verges, on the seats by the river edge or inside the cosy bird hide and settle down for the evening’s entertainment. A hot flask and blanket might help. As the sun slowly sinks behind the trees look out for a flurry of activity as the wintering waterfowl busily finish the business of the day and prepare for the long night ahead. Meanwhile, look out over the marshes and you’ll see rabbits emerge from their warrens full of energy, ready to begin their day. In the distance look closely and you could see deer stepping out from the edge of the woods. As the light fades you might notice the occasional black silhouette flitting overhead. This signals the arrival of corvids gathering for their evening roost. The birds will rest in a copse of trees in the middle of the marsh and begin a chorus of croaks and caws which form their cryptic conversations. Single birds emerge from the melee sending out siren calls as they fly. Watch for their return, a few minutes later, bringing with them an ever increasing and noisier number of fellow corvids to join the twilight celebrations. As the sky darkens and the sun disappears, sit patiently. You will be rewarded. After a few false starts the whole chattering, swooping, diving gathering will take flight and journey on to its overnight shelter. Please note that public transport to this location is limited, however, train travel may be arranged on weekends.

Sunrise to Moonrise in Great Yarmouth (starting point is North Denes dunes, October to March)

If you wrap up warm and embrace the fresh North Sea breeze, the rolling sands of North Denes offer up its own barren beauty to brighten the shorter days of winter. This quiet spot, washed in salty mists and dotted with tussocks of marram grass, is a favourite with dog walkers and adventurers who want to get the most out of their day. Be the first to greet the morning by heading down to the beach before sunlight. If you want to take breakfast with you, a flask of coffee and Pastéis de Nata from one of Great Yarmouth’s Portuguese stores makes a fine treat. Nestle down in the shelter of the dunes and watch the sun as it rises up and over the sea, full of promise for the new day. As the world wakes, you can head into town and explore the delights of this historic seaside town and enjoy a varied selection of food and heritage experiences. When the afternoon light starts to fade, take a gentle stroll along the shoreline. The winter sunset lights the rooftops and sends murmurations of starlings into whirling flight across the sky as the town settles down for the night ahead. 

The Twilight Broads (starting point is NR12 0BS and access is via Stubb Lane, October to March)

Hickling Broad was created in medieval times by locals digging out peat for winter fuel; today it is a unique landscape of Norfolk reed and Woodland Carr. Throughout autumn and winter, as sunset approaches, it is a secret place to watch nature’s clock unfold. Follow the path to Stubbs Mill where a Norfolk Wildlife Trust viewing platform will help to keep your feet dry while offering views over fields of waving reed, glistening water and lost long Broads buildings. Over the years barn owls have found a safe place to roost and breed in the broken timbers of Brograve drainage mill, while short eared owls, with their piercing yellow eyes, may be seen quartering the banks. When shadows darken marsh harriers start to arrive. It’s not surprising that these large impressive birds, once nearly extinct, have a stronghold in Norfolk as their favourite hunting ground is over reed beds and marshes. Up to seventy birds have been seen circling around this roost site, a spectacle not to be forgotten. As the sky darkens the best is still to come. The common crane, rare elsewhere, but common in the Broads, return home in the dying light. These huge birds with outstretched necks and trailing legs proclaim their arrival with a triumphant call. This beautiful, evocative sound fills the air above Hickling and haunts both the landscape and your memory. As darkness falls it’s time to turn on torches and seek out warming refreshment at one of the nearby hostels.


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