New nature reserve opens

It's a 28-acre site of wet grazing marsh and mature woodland which is home to a fascinating array of nearly 300 species of insects, birds and plants.And thanks to a £54,000 project to create boardwalks and bird hides, the public can now enjoy visiting the Norfolk Ornithologists' Association's first inland reserve.

It's a 28-acre site of wet grazing marsh and mature woodland which is home to a fascinating array of nearly 300 species of insects, birds and plants.

And thanks to a £54,000 project to create boardwalks and bird hides, the public can now enjoy visiting the Norfolk Ornithologists' Association's first inland reserve.

A ceremony was held on Saturday to mark the official opening of visitor facilities at Hempton Marsh - on the outskirts of Fakenham - which have been finished a year ahead of schedule.

A £49,000 Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) grant was secured and an extra £5000 was given by Jordan's Cereals which has meant the 350 metres of boardwalk - which provide wheelchair access - plus the hides have been built.


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Hempton Marsh was bought by the NOA in 1999 and the reserve's habitat has been developed and 273 species of flora and fauna have been identified.

They include 84 different types of birds, 21 species of butterflies, 115 plants and 23 types of fungi.

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The reserve is run by a group of volunteer wardens

NOA chairman Geoffrey Barker said: “Hempton Marsh is the NOA's first inland reserve and all of us who have worked on its development so far have delighted in the variety of wildlife we have found in this unspoiled part of the Wensum Valley.”

Fakenham mayor Brenda Coldrick cut the ribbon to officially open the visitor facilities and said: “For Fakenham it is a marvellous plus. I am very, very happy to be here today and after many years we have finally got to this stage.”

Anne Mason, of the East of England committee of the HLF, said: “To many people heritage means buildings. But this project illustrates that heritage also encompasses historic land management and this is a very special and rare habitat.”

She said the HLF had given £250m to 2500 projects across the region since 1994 and common to each was a dedicated team behind it.

Bill Jordan, of Jordans Cereals and the Pensthorpe Conservation Trust, said: “It's part of the Jordans' philosophy to contribute to projects like Hempton, as we believe we can contribute most effectively to Britain's ongoing conservation effort through developing relationships with grass roots organisations such as the NOA.”

A wide range of events are planned at Hempton Marsh this year including botany walks, moth days and a fungal foray.

Hempton Marsh is next to the A1065 Fakenham bypass. Parking is on the road off Goggs Mill Road. For more information ring 01485 525406, e-mail info@noa.org.uk or visit the website www.noa.org.uk

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