Ranworth's floating Broads Wildlife Centre is reached by a boardwalk and has a panoramic vista across the water.
From here, good numbers of duck – wigeon, gadwall, teal, shoveler and pochard – can be watched in the winter. Great crested grebes are present all year, though much more elegant in their summer plumage, and kingfishers occasionally zip across the water. Hundreds of cormorants roost in skeletal, dead trees, with marsh harriers passing overhead. Common terns nest in front of the Centre.
The boardwalk passes through excellent woodland and reedbed habitats; a number of interesting plants are present, as well as common woodland birds. The explosive song of the Cetti’s warbler can often be heard, though these brown skulkers are much harder to see. Swallowtails are present, as well as Norfolk hawkers and other dragonflies.
This majestic fish-eating bird of prey has a 1.5m (5ft) wingspan, and unmistakable brown and white plumage. In recent years Ranworth Broad has been lucky enough to have been visited by ospreys
– many of them long-staying – on a number of occasions. Consequently, the Trust has erected a nesting platform in the hope that a pair of these summer migrants can be encouraged to breed at the reserve, rather than just using it as a handy stop-off site.
Enjoy the noisy antics of the common terns which nest on specially built platforms in front of the Broads Wildlife Centre. These graceful summer visitors are slimmer and smaller than gulls, acrobatically plunging into the water to catch small fish.
Sleek and magnificent, the otter is one of the UK’s most special mammals.
Unfortunately, due to its largely nocturnal, secretive nature they are also very hard to observe. Ranworth Broad offers a chance, as otters are regularly seen at the site.
Ranworth can be a good place to see Britain’s most spectacular butterfly flitting around the reedbeds near the Broads Wildlife Centre between late May and July. They can also sometimes be seen from the boat trips.
Close to Ranworth village, signposted from The Street at South Walsham. There is a signed NWT car park. There is a ferry service from the Staithe to the Broads Wildlife Centre (with a small charge). Alternatively, there is a path from Malthouse Staithe to Broad Road; where a boardwalk leads through the reserve to the visitor centre. Limited closer disabled parking is available off Broad Road. The reserve itself is free to enter and open all year round.
NWT does not permit wild swimming on its nature reserves. For more information and advice on wild swimming in the Norfolk Broads visit Outdoor swimming