Natural England - Benacre NNR

Benacre NNR

Benacre NNR is on the Suffolk coast. It includes the reedbeds and lagoons of Benacre, Covehithe and Easton Broads, together with the woodlands and heathlands on the higher ground between them.

Benacre NNR

County: Suffolk

Main habitats: Coastal, Woodland, Peatland

Area: 393 Ha

Why visit: some features of the reserve are man-made. Many of the site's woodlands were planted as game cover, and the pits at Benacreness were created by gravel extraction.

The saline lagoons of the reserve were formed in shallow valleys when ice age glacial drift blocked the out-flow to the sea. They are the reserve's main interest and support specialist species such as lagoon shrimp and starlet sea-anemone.

Star species: over 100 breeding bird species use the reserve including marsh harrier, bearded reedling, water rail, a variety of ducks, and, in some years, bittern. Little terns are summer visitors to the shore and the heathlands are home to woodlark, wheatear and hobby.

A typical East Anglian shingle flora is to be found along the shore, with yellow-horned poppy, sea kale, sea holly and prickly saltwort. The northern dunes support extensive areas of sheep-bit and the rare grey hair grass.

The reedbeds support marsh sower thistle, marsh mallow and golden dock while on other parts of the reserve wild daffodil, climbing corydalis, orpine and greater broomrape can be found.

How to get there

The reserve comprises two main sites to the north and south of the village of Covehithe. To the north the reserve extends as far as Benacre village, and to the south, as far as Reydon Smear.

On foot

The reserve is on the route of a major trail, the Suffolk Coast & Heaths Pathexternal link.

By train

The nearest train station is in Lowestoftexternal link.

By bus

Bus services from Lowestoft down the A12 are provided by First Groupexternal link.

By car

The reserve is accessed via minor roads from the A12 and B1127. The nearest car parks are in Kessingham (3 km north of Benacre) and Reydon (one km south of Reydon Smear).

Vising the reserve

Please note that much of the reserve is private property and access off public rights of way is by permission only.

The nearest toilet and refreshment facilities are in local villages.

There is a public hide on Benacre Broad.

Dogs on leads or under close control are welcome on the reserve – but help us by being careful when walking near grazing stock, and from March to September when birds may be nesting and rearing young on the ground. The adult birds can be easily scared and may abandon the nest if driven off by dogs.

School and community groups: any groups considering a visit should contact the NNR office in advance.

Want to get involved?

Volunteers are highly valued here at Benacre, Walberswick and Westleton Heath NNR and contribute hugely to the management and monitoring at the site. Volunteering is a great way of learning new skills, gaining work experience, getting fit, meeting new people and doing your bit for wildlife.

There is a weekly practical conservation volunteer team which meet on site on a Friday. This would include tasks such as scrub management, fencing and woodland management.

Volunteers of all abilities are very welcome and on-task training is delivered by reserve staff. Volunteers can claim travel expenses and will be provided with safety equipment.

Group or corporate volunteering opportunities are also available on the reserve and site staff have experience of working with teenage groups, prison groups, young offenders and local conservation societies.

It is also possible to arrange a short period of work experience the on the Walberswick reserve, please contact the reserve office to discuss options.

If you are interested in volunteering and would like more information please contact Debs Crawford, or call the reserve office on 01502 676178.

Further information 

Adam Burrows, Senior Reserve Manager
Natural England
The Barn
Frostenden Hall Farm
Church Lane
NR34 7HS
Tel: 01502 676171