Monday, 3 March 2014

Living Landscape walks, 1: NWT Thorpe Marshes

Emily Nobbs, Assistant Conservation Officer

As a newbie to the People and Wildlife Team at NWT, it has been an exciting first few months. One aspect of my role is to assist Gemma Walker, a Project Officer at NWT, with NWT’s Wildlife Information Service, and some Living Landscape work. 

The Living Landscape vision is a strategic vision of our landscape, that will help us to create a resilient, healthy, joint up environment for people and for wildlife; something that we need to aspire to do if we are to be sustainable. There are over 100 Living Landscape schemes around the UK, including eight for Norfolk: Brecks, Bure Valley, Claylands, Cley to Salthouse, Gaywood Valley, Hickling, North Norfolk Woods and Wissey Valley. For the month of January each weekend I went out walking in Norfolk, some walks took me around just outside the Living Landscapes and others within. I walked across farmland, through woodland, meadows, villages and commons. Each walk picturesque, and each enables you to explore varying landscapes. Our work to create sustainable ecological networks, is not just about conserving and protecting nature reserves, but restoring and creating sustainable sites in the wider environment, our countryside. 

NWT Thorpe Marshes, photo by Richard Osbourne
First up – walking an NWT Nature Reserve
During the first weekend of January my family and I were eager to start burning off our Christmas indulgences, so we headed out down Thunder Lane in Thorpe St Andrew, for a short walk to NWT Thorpe Marshes, a reserve bordering the Clayland Living Landscape ‘fuzzy’ boundary. Thorpe Marshes is a 25 hectare urban nature reserve, local to my family’s home. This is a fantastic site, within walking distance of all the residents of Thorpe St Andrew town. The walk leads you over the railway bridge off Yarmouth road, and along the bank of the River Yare, where you can view Whitlingham Country Park on the opposite bank. The site is home to many species of plant and dragonflies and damselflies, with cattle grazing the marsh. In 2011 a large project to excavate a broad, now named St Andrews Broad was undertaken, of which we could see is now slowly welcoming bird species to its waters. The reedbeds on the site support species such as reed bunting and reed warblers, with wildfowl such as great crested grebe and gadwall seen in winter. We enjoyed a sighting of two robins dancing to song along the River Yare bankside vegetation. 

This is a great site to visit all year round; it truly is an example of nature on your doorstep.

Heads up: If you decide to visit the site do wear wellington boots, as it can be especially wet after heavy rainfall! There is no parking at the nature reserve. If you fancy a hot drink and light lunch, check out Harley’s, a lovely little cafĂ© on Yarmouth Road opposite the river green. 

My next walking blog instalment takes me to Reepham to begin my walk, an ancient market town, neighbouring the North Norfolk Woods Living Landscape. Please check in to NWT’s blog next week to hear more.

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