One of the many footpaths at Holkham National Nature Reserve

Nature Reserve

Exploring the National Nature Reserve

Holkham National Nature Reserve stretches from Burnham Norton to Blakeney and covers about 3,706 hectares. It is possible to explore most of the area by following footpaths from the main car parks. The core section of the reserve, from Wells to Holkham Bay, is crisscrossed by paths allowing access through the pine woodland.

There are three car parks. At Burnham Overy parking is free but there are charges for parking at Lady Anne’s Drive and Wells Beach Road. The car parks are linked by the Norfolk Coast Path, Peddars Way (a National Trail). To the east of Wells the footpath skirts a large area of saltmarsh and mudflats; tidal creeks are dangerous on a rising tide and this area should be avoided unless you have expert local knowledge.

Special sounds

  • Pink-footed Geese calling in flight between feeding grounds.
  • Chattering of Little Terns at their breeding colonies.
  • Whirring wings of a Hawkmoth as it visits flowers on a still June evening.
  • Screech of a Barn Owl when you aren’t expecting it.
  • Distant rumble of waves gathering before a gale.
  • Silence in the pinewoods.
  • Fluting, sad call of a Grey Plover over the saltmarsh.
  • Singing (or croaking) of Natterjacks on a spring evening.
  • Reeling Grasshopper Warblers at Wells.

A few things to touch

  • Corsican Pine bark: rough, dry, deeply fissured.
  • Pine cones stripped by Squirrels or Crossbills.
  • The sharpness of thorns (Dog-rose, Bramble, Hawthorn: they vary!).
  • Smoothness of pebbles on the beach.
  • Polystyrene texture of a Birch Bracket Fungus.
  • Cold, clammy lobes of a Jelly Ear Fungus.
  • Sand running through your fingers: different grain sizes in different places on the beach feel quite dissimilar.S

Seasonal highlights - Autumn bird migration viewing opportunities

  • We have cut two new paths into the reed-fringed scrub along the southern edge of the pinewoods to give you opportunities to get closer to our wildlife this autumn and winter.
  • The Bluetail Trail and Warbler Trail are located off the main footpath from Holkham to Burnham Overy between the two bird hides.
  • Likely sightings include: Yellow-browed warbler, Redwings, Bramblings, Chiffchaffs, and hopefully rare Asian migrants such as Pallas’s warbler and Red-flanked Bluetail.
    Please note that they are rough terrain and not suitable for wheelchairs. Please wear suitable footwear and be aware of your surroundings.