NWT Foxley Wood in the North Norfolk Woods Living Landscape. Photo by Richard Osbourne 1/3
NWT Bretts Wood in the North Norfolk Woods Living Landscape. Photo by Richard Osbourne 2/3
NWT Thursford Wood in the North Norfolk Woods Living Landscape. Photo by Richard Osbourne 3/3

North Norfolk Woods

This web page will help you to learn about one of Norfolk’s less well-known important areas for nature – the North Norfolk Woods Living Landscape – so you can get out and explore its ancient woodlands and experience the abundance of history and wildlife it has to offer.
The North Norfolk Woods Living Landscape covers an area over 8,000 hectares and includes the two largest ancient woodlands in Norfolk, NWT Foxley Wood and Swanton Novers Great Wood. Much of the area is dominated by arable farming, but there are also extensive areas of parkland, scrub and woodland. NWT plans to encourage the expansion and creation of woodland, scrub, hedgerows and grassland habitats, enabling wildlife to move more freely between and around the area’s existing ancient woodlands.
These woods are rich in plant life, including ancient woodland indicator species like bluebells and wood anemones – plants that generally only occur in woods that have been there for a very long time; generally, the longer a habitat has been there, the more species it will support.
As well as this rich flora, the ancient woods also support a large number of birds, mammals and invertebrates. This includes a number of scarce Norfolk species such as the honey buzzard (rare throughout the UK), badger, several bat species, and a number of butterflies including the white admiral.
With its location to the northwest of Norwich, and containing many good-sized towns and numerous villages, the North Norfolk Woods Living Landscape is easily accessible to a large population of people. As well as several NWT nature reserves within the area, there are numerous other important places for wildlife including County Wildlife Sites, various Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs), and a number of publicly accessible areas of common land.

The area includes four NWT woodland nature reserves: NWT Foxley Wood, Norfolk’s largest ancient woodland; NWT Thursford Wood, with its impressive collection of veteran oak trees; NWT Honeypot Wood, with its rich WWII history, and the recently acquired NWT Brett’s Wood, a former conifer plantation.

At 123 hectares, Foxley is Norfolk's largest remaining ancient woodland, and a firm favourite with visiting families. In early spring pale yellow primroses peek out from the banks of ditches, a prelude to the riot of colour to follow a few weeks later when bluebells carpet the woodland floor. Other interesting woodland plants and wildflowers are found, as well as many species of birds and butterflies. Indeed, Foxley is also a great place to listen to the dawn chorus of spring songbirds – as long as you don't mind getting up very early.

Just outside Fakenham, the 10-hectare Thursford Wood may be small in size but contains some of the oldest oak trees in the county – some may be more than 500 years old. Thursford also has an excellent selection of wildflowers, summer ferns and autumn fungi. Good numbers of common woodland birds are present.

NWT Honeypot Wood, 6 km west of East Dereham, is a delightful reserve with a wealth of history and character. Thought to be a remnant of wild wood dating back to the retreat of the last Ice Age, its more recent history includes a period of distinguished service in World War II, when RAF Wendling used buildings on the site as a bomb dump. Today the wood has good numbers of orchids and is excellent for displays of fungi and leaf colour in autumn.

Brett's Wood, close to Thursford, is one of NWT's newest reserves, having been purchased in 2010 with a large donation from a private woodland trust. A former, decades-old conifer plantation, the site offers an exciting opportunity for woodland restoration.

There are many other local nature reserves that are readily accessible to visitors – for instance near Fakenham is the NOA’s Hempton Marsh, and the impressive Hawk and Owl Trust reserve at Sculthorpe. Around other towns and villages in the area are many other excellent wildlife areas – take a walk or a bike ride and explore them!
The wildlife and habitats of the North Norfolk Woods Living Landscape are under threat. Many species found here that were once common are now in decline (such as summer-visiting turtle doves and nightingales), and increasing development pressures are crowding in on its precious habitats. Despite this, there is much you can do to help ensure this underrated part of Norfolk and its wildlife has a thriving future.

If you live in the region you can help by making your garden more wildlife-friendly by: feeding the birds in your garden, putting up nest boxes and bat boxes, or creating a wildlife pond or a compost heap.

There are many other actions you can take such as encouraging local businesses or schools to support an area for wildlife, joining together with other people within the community to create wildlife-friendly areas, volunteering for NWT or other conservation projects, speaking to local councillors and MPs about the importance of local green spaces and wildlife, and buying from local farmers engaged in good environmental practices.

Or, just simply, get out into the woods and countryside of Norfolk and learn about its wildlife and habitats. You could even undertake a simple wildlife survey (NWT occasionally runs surveys for certain species, and more regular ones are carried out by the BTO and RSPB) to help scientists and researchers learn more about local wildlife numbers and distribution.

News stories: a living landscape

2018-08-13 Floating digger provides next Floating digger provides next stage of fen restoration
Monday 13 August, 2018
A 14-ton excavator has been ‘floating’ on a Norfolk fen this month to create a network of ponds, which wi...
2018-07-25 Songs, Scales and studies at C Songs, Scales and studies at Cley this summer
Wednesday 25 July, 2018
Don’t miss Cley Calling Summer Spirit next week - Thursday 2nd till Sunday 5th August – with unusual ways...
2018-06-27 Summer Spirit as Cley calls to Summer Spirit as Cley calls to art and nature lovers
Wednesday 27 June, 2018
Just five weeks until our long summer weekend of wildlife and creativity at Cley! Thursday 2nd till Sunday 5th August...
2018-05-22 Wildlife in Common Wildlife in Common
Tuesday 22 May, 2018
A two year project celebrating Norfolk’s commons and their wildlife and heritage has begun,  run by Norfol...
2017-12-08 Be ‘eagle’ eyed this winter Be ‘eagle’ eyed this winter
Friday 08 December, 2017
Winter is often a very good time of year to spot birds of prey. As the trees have lost their leaves the silhouettes o...
2017-12-05 Cley Calling celebrates Norfol Cley Calling celebrates Norfolk’s starry skies this weekend
Tuesday 05 December, 2017
Do you know your mallard from your gadwall? Do you fancy a spot of frosty storytelling with a glass of mulled wine? Y...
2017-10-02 New report links volunteering New report links volunteering in nature with better mental health
Monday 02 October, 2017
A new report which examines the effects of volunteering in nature on people’s mental health is published by The...
2017-09-20 Cley Calling – Autumn Colours Cley Calling – Autumn Colours
Wednesday 20 September, 2017
This autumn, you can explore North Norfolk’s colourful coastal landscape and culture as part of NWT’s ...
2017-09-19 Celebrating two decades of rub Celebrating two decades of rubbish help for biodiversity
Tuesday 19 September, 2017
It feels counterintuitive - the waste we produce helping to restore habitats and conserve some of Norfolk’s mos...
2017-09-11 Breeding redshank return to Ro Breeding redshank return to Roydon Common after 40 years
Monday 11 September, 2017
A new noise has joined the cacophony of bubbling curlew, drumming snipe and the ‘tooo-wips’ of lapwing th...
2017-06-27 Norfolk's magical meadows Norfolk's magical meadows
Tuesday 27 June, 2017
Norfolk Wildlife Trust is leading a free meadow tour of Mulbarton Common this Saturday 1 July 2017 as part of The ...
2017-06-07 From Dartmoor to Breckland From Dartmoor to Breckland
Wednesday 07 June, 2017
New ponies settle in to manage Cranwich Camp, Norfolk.  Sixteen Dartmoor Ponies are settling in to their new...
2017-05-03 Cley Calling - Spring Song Cley Calling - Spring Song
Wednesday 03 May, 2017
Musicians and artists celebrate spring at the North Norfolk Coast From Thursday 4 May to Sunday 7 May, Norfolk Wi...
2017-04-18 £1 million target reached to s £1 million target reached to secure future of international wetland Hickling Broad
Tuesday 18 April, 2017
Norfolk Wildlife Trust has announced today that the £1 million target had been reached through donations to the...
2017-03-15 'Microsculpture' 'Microsculpture'
Wednesday 15 March, 2017
'Microsculpture' is a unique exhibition resulting from a ground breaking insects project by Levon Biss, Briti...
2017-03-07 Celebrating 'The Year of Norfo Celebrating 'The Year of Norfolk’s Nature' - photography competition
Tuesday 07 March, 2017
Norfolk Wildlife Trust today [Wednesday 8 March 2017] announced the winner of its photographic competition celebratin...
2017-02-16 Do some 'fun raising' and Do some 'fun raising' and "Help Hickling" Broad
Thursday 16 February, 2017
Norfolk Wildlife Trust has an ambitious target of raising £1 million by 31 March 2017 to help it purchase 655 a...
2017-02-02 World Wetlands Day celebrates World Wetlands Day celebrates major public commitment to securing Norfolk’s finest wetland
Thursday 02 February, 2017
Norfolk Wildlife Trust has announced today on World Wetlands Day that over £500,000 has been donated so far to ...
2017-01-14 Sea Flooding at NWT Cley Marsh Sea Flooding at NWT Cley Marshes Nature Reserve
Saturday 14 January, 2017
Update: 18 January 2017 Following the flooding at the weekend, reserve staff are now carrying out a clean-up and ...
2016-12-06 A strong step towards securing A strong step towards securing Hickling Broad
Tuesday 06 December, 2016
Norfolk Wildlife Trust has announced that over £128,000 has been donated so far as a result of it launching the...
2016-11-21 It's time to chat about the ba It's time to chat about the bat
Monday 21 November, 2016
Join bat expert John Goldsmith for an evening this Thursday [24 November] discovering the secret lives of these noctu...
2016-11-02 Hickling Broad - urgent appeal Hickling Broad - urgent appeal to secure future of historic Norfolk wildlife haven
Wednesday 02 November, 2016
 Norfolk Wildlife Trust today announced it is launching a £1 million appeal to secure the future of one of...
2016-07-11  A wild morning in Reffley – t A wild morning in Reffley – this Saturday!
Monday 11 July, 2016
Join Norfolk Wildlife Trust, Reffley Community Association and the Gaywood Valley Conservation Group for a fun packed...
2016-05-13 Competition to name King’s Lyn Competition to name King’s Lynn Wildlife Area
Friday 13 May, 2016
Ideas are being sought from members of the public for a name to give to a publicly accessible wildlife area which is ...

Habitats: North Norfolk Woods

Woodland Woodland