Hickling Broad - Hickling in Norfolk

                    (c) by John Ashley Photography

This national nature reserve managed by NWT is open all year. The visitor centre is open 7 days a week from 10am to 5pm April to September. The reserve is an internationally important wetland.
This part of East Anglia is renowned for its expanses of open grassland, marshes and water. It is also important for its wildlife which includes national rarities such as the marsh harrier and the swallowtail butterfly. The Weavers Way  runs through part of the reserve. There is a huge expanse of broadwalk together with many viewing platforms and hides.

The Swallowtail Trail - This is a circular surfaced path which leads you past open reedbeds and pools. This path is suitable for wheelchair users. Approximately 30 mins.

The Bittern Trail - 50 mins approx - A surfaced path leading to Broad viewpoint. Access suitable for wheelchairs. However, beyond Broad viewpoint it is an unsurfaced path not suitable for wheelchairs. This part of the path may be wet underfoot.

Konik ponies help keep the marshes and fens in good condition all year round.

In June and July look out for the swallowtail caterpillar feeding on the milk parsley. The swallowtail is a magnificent butterfly its strong characteristic flight can carry it over open water to new and untouched supplies of food. The best time to see swallow is in late spring and early summer around the sedge beds by the broad. This is where they feed on nectar from plants such as ragged robbin and lay their eggs on milk parsley. 

This is the only plant their caterpillars eat. The swallowtail is rare now because milk parsley has all but disappeared from the UK. These unusual plants need wet places to grow where there is plenty of space. 
Well managed sedge in the broads are perfect. The butterflies flourish here where it is permanently wet and free from trees and scrub the fact that sedge is still harvested for thatching may have saved this butterfly from extinction in the UK.

In Winter large amounts of wildfowl visit the reserve. In Spring listen out for the booming call of the rare bitten, whose call can be heard over 5km. Early summer brings the spoonbill which fly's here from Africa.

Picture (c) by John Ashley Photography