Despite covering such a large area, the Brecks Living Landscape is well set up for visitors to explore. As well as numerous free Forestry Commission car parks and paths leading through the area’s woodlands, there are also three easily accessible Norfolk Wildlife Trust nature reserves (as well as other areas managed by the Trust where access is more limited due to sensitive wildlife).
The oldest nature reserve in the Brecks, NWT East Wretham Heath
was purchased by the Trust at the start of WWII. Much of the site was ploughed up and farmed during the war, but subsequent careful management and controlled conservation grazing, in particular by the site's numerous rabbits, has restored the open heath habitat and today a number of speciality Breckland plant and invertebrate species occur. The reserve lies approximately 5km (3 miles) north of Thetford, and contains numerous trails and viewing hides over various meres.
NWT Thompson Common
is on the edge of the Brecks, just outside the small town of Watton. Thompson is famous for its pingos, a series of around 400 post-glacial depressions. These shallow, fluctuating pools harbour a variety of interesting flora and fauna: more than 400 species of plant have been recorded, as well as 600 species of beetle, 25 butterflies and 19 dragonflies (including the scarce emerald damselfly, found at only a handful of locations in the country). The site is also a good place to see otters on Thompson Water – though, remarkably, this magnificent mammal is also frequently seen along the river in Thetford town centre.
Approximately 2.5 km (1.25 miles) west of Weeting village, NWT Weeting Heath
is the best place in the country to see the rare stone curlew. The strange species of wading bird requires open, stony ground with short vegetation, making the close-cropped turf of Weeting an ideal site. This special Breckland habitat has to be specially managed to keep it so low – as well as sheep, NWT employs eager rabbit volunteers, a species that you will definitely see at Weeting!