Holkham National Nature Reserve, with its spectacular, yet fragile, coastal habitat, provides a home for many rare and important wildlife species.
Main habitat: Coastal
Holkham NNR is managed as a partnership between the Holkham Estate and Natural England. Holkham Estate are responsible for the management of all the land they own within the NNR, essentially all the terrestrial habitats, part of which is managed under the Higher Level Stewardship scheme, while Natural England manage the foreshore, below the mean high water mark, under lease from the Crown Estate.
The boundaries are shown on this map: (3.28mb).
Further information about the NNR and its wildlife can be found on the Holkham Estate website.
Why visit: taking in a stunning 11 mile stretch of Norfolk coastline, you can explore a windswept tideline, backed by a maze of creeks and marshes, unspoilt sand dunes and tranquil pine forests.
Look out for majestic marsh harriers hunting for prey over the grazing marshes and aerobatics of lapwings in spring, when you may also hear the distinctive call of the natterjack toad on the dunes. The NNR is home to tens of thousands of waterfowl in the winter including wild geese, wigeon and teal.
Holkham NNR forms an integral part of the North Norfolk Coast Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and its value is recognised in the following international designations; Special Protection Area, Special Area of Conservation, Marine Special Area of Conservation, Ramsar Site and Biosphere Reserve.
There is an Easy Access Trail at Lady Anne’s Drive, Holkham. It’s a 2 mile (3.5km) round trip starting at the Lady Anne's Drive Car Park in Holkham. There is more information on the Holkham page of the Nationwide Access Register.
North Norfolk Coastal Path National Trail stretches for 93 miles up England’s east coast and passes through the NNR. . To the east of Wells, it runs parallel to a large area of saltmarsh and mudflats which is dissected by a number of tidal creeks. These are dangerous on a rising tide and this area should not be walked over without detailed local knowledge.
Other paths and tracks on the core section of the NNR, from Wells to Holkham Bay, are permissive open access. Please help to look after the plants and other wildlife by staying on paths and tracks, and do not walk on the grazing marshes.
Please keep dogs under effective control - This is important throughout the year, especially in the short saltmarsh vegetation between Wells and Holkham. In the spring and summer ground-nesting birds rear their young here, while in winter it’s a feeding ground for wading birds, larks and pipits as they build up their energy stores to help see them through the winter.
The dunes between Wells and Burnham Overy are also important breeding sites (April – August) for shore-birds such as oystercatcher, ringed plover and terns, please respect the breeding colonies on the beach, keep dogs under effective control, and do not stop too long at these clearly marked areas as this may disturb birds that are incubating eggs or feeding their young.
Other nearby attractions: The NNR forms part of a long stretch of coastline managed for wildlife, and other nearby reserves include RSPB Titchwell, Norfolk Wildlife Trust reserves at Holme Dunes and Cley Marshes, and the National Trust’s Blakeney National Nature Reserve, all of which are close to the Coasthopper bus route.
Directions by main road, rail and bus, along with parking charges and horse riding information, can be found on the Holkham website
The Norfolk Coasthopper runs from King's Lynn and Hunstanton to Sheringham and has stops that allow access to the NNR via Stiffkey, Wells, Holkham and Burnham Overy Staithe. At Holkham, the main bus stop is on the main road in Holkham village.
Holkham NNR is on part of National Cycle Sustans Route 1 which goes through the NNR between Holkham village and Wells.
The Holkham Estate contact is Sarah Henderson, Conservation Manager
Hill Farm Office,
Main Road, Holkham
Tel: 01328 800730