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Enjoy a walk on the wild side

PUBLISHED: 10:07 24 May 2010 | UPDATED: 16:45 01 July 2010

Simon Parkin

Beautiful butterflies, wading birds, dragonflies and colourful carpets of flowers, Norfolk has lots of wonderful places to get close to nature. SIMON PARKIN checks out where to explore in National Wildlife Week.

Beautiful butterflies, wading birds, dragonflies and colourful carpets of flowers, Norfolk has lots of wonderful places to get close to nature. SIMON PARKIN checks out where to explore in National Wildlife Week.

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Dig out your rucksack, pull on your walking boots and prepare to be dazzled by dragonflies, wowed by wild flowers and bowled over by bats in National Wildlife Week.

Actually the Wildlife Trusts' annual celebration of UK wildlife, which starts next Friday, is a bit of a misnomer as this year the event has been expanded to last for three weeks.

Wildlife Week is always an opportunity to celebrate and enjoy the wonderful species which inhabit the region both on and offshore.

Norfolk Wildlife Trust - together with trusts right across the country - will be hosting walks, talks and family fun events including bushcraft, mini-beast safaris and rock pool rambles.

Stephanie Hilborne, chief executive of The Wildlife Trusts, said: “Here in the UK we are lucky enough to live alongside a stunning array of wildlife, and Wildlife Week provides the chance for everyone inspired by nature to get outside and make the most of it. With so many activities on offer there is something for everyone.

“You can explore some of the most beautiful nature reserves to see butterflies, moths and mammals, and learn more about species at talks given by our wildlife experts. Children will love pond-dipping, rock pool rambles and wildlife art workshops, and finding out what's in an owl pellet!”

“This is a fabulous time of year to get out and visit a Wildlife Trust nature reserve - and there are more than 2,200 to choose from around the country.”

In Norfolk there is a wealth of places you can visit to enjoy the natural habitats of beautiful wildlife hotspots. Norfolk Wildlife Trust was established in 1926. They are the oldest of a national network of 47 wildlife trusts around the country working to protect and enhance our wildlife and wild places.

They care for more than 50 nature reserves and other protected sites around the county including 10km of coastline, nine Norfolk broads, nine National Nature Reserves and five ancient woodlands.

t National Wildlife Week runs from May 29 to June 13. For more about events visit www.norfolkwildlifetrust.org.uk and www.wildlifetrusts.org

FOXLEY WOOD

Norfolk's largest remaining ancient woodland. Its wide rides, originally created to allow the movement of felled timber, make wonderful paths far into the wood.

During the spring and summer you can expect to see bluebells, early purple orchid, lily of the valley, a range of beautiful butterflies and tawny owls as well as great spotted and green woodpeckers.

At the wood there is an orientation station, information board and way-marked trails and the reserve is open daily (except Thursdays) from 10am-5pm.

HICKLING BROAD

The largest expanse of open water in the Broads system, with a great deal to see on foot or by boat. In the spring and summer you will be able to spot swallowtail butterfly, Norfolk hawker dragonfly and marsh orchid.

There is a visitor centre and toilets, interpretive displays and refreshments. You can also take a look at the wildlife through the bird-watching hides overlooking pools or by taking the boardwalk waymarked trails. Wildlife Detective Bumbags for children are free to hire so they can enjoy the wildlife in a fun interactive way and the Water Trail (for an additional charge, available summer only) takes you by boat across open water, through reeds to the base of the Tree Tower. From the top of the tower is an amazing view of the Broads and coast. Hickling reserve is open year round 10am-5pm, there is a small entry charge for entry but its free for children. The visitor centre is open until September.

CLEY MARSHES

Cley has an internationally reputed as a premier bird-watching site. The view from the visitor centre across the marsh to the sea is breathtaking. Bird-watching enthusiasts and beginners will be able to spot avocet, spoonbill, ringed plover, redshank, and lapwing in the summer months.

There is a brand new environmentally friendly visitor centre which incorporates an observation area, interactive interpretation including a remote controllable wildlife camera, a café, and sales area. Plus there are four hides (with excellent wheelchair access) which provide bird-watching within metres of the pools where the birds congregate. You can also listen to the audio trail and enjoy the boardwalk with information boards.

The reserve and visitor centre open year round, 10am-5pm, call 01263 740008 for further details. There is a small charge for entry but its free for children.

RANWORTH BROAD

One of Norfolk's most popular Broads with plenty to see and do for both families and naturalists. The floating Broads Wildlife Centre is located at the end of an informative boardwalk and visitors can expect to see an abundance of wildlife all year round.

The interpretive boardwalk explains the succession from open water to dry land and the many habitats you pass through.

The centre has fabulous views over Ranworth Broad and contains interactive displays plus there are refreshments available as well as binoculars and telescopes provided for use from the upper windows and Wildlife Detective Bumbags for children to hire.

The boardwalk through the nature reserve is open year round and the Broads Wildlife Centre is open daily until October 10am-5pm. Call 01603 270479 during season for further information.

WAYLAND WOOD

Wayland Wood, just south of Watton on the A1075 road to Thetford, is believed to be the site of the 'Babes in the Wood' legend.

An impenetrable wild wood which instils a sense of history for which it is locally renowned. The spring and summer months offer bluebells, yellow archangel, early purple orchid, wood anemone and nightingales. On site you will find information boards and way-marked trails.

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