Tuesday, 1 November 2016

Strumpshaw Fen

We recently enjoyed a countryside walk round Strumpshaw Fen, Norfolk. The Fen is one of the many RSPB reserves around Great Britain and is found in the heart of the beautiful Norfolk Broads.
A vast range of Broadland wildlife and natural habitats, this is a wonderful and peaceful area to visit throughout the year. In fact, each season offers it's own treasures and pleasures, from the blooming Spring to the colours of Autumn and everything else either side.

We joined the RSPB in late Spring but until now we hadn't visited, so on this beautiful sunny Autumnal Sunday afternoon we headed off.

Chris had a rough idea of how to get there and we soon found the turn off from the A47 between Great Yarmouth and Norwich, we then followed the signs to Strumpshaw. This was a quaint little village and the Fen was clearly signposted throughout. It was a little further than expected and we began to think that we may have missed it at first but then spotted the RSPB sign and pulled into the free car park.

Whilst we have got passes from signing up to a membership, the Fen is also open to non-members and has a nominal entrance fee;

Entrance charges

RSPB members, under 5s and carers accompanying registered disabled visitors: free. Non-members: Adults £3.50, concessions: £2.50, children (5-17 years): £1.50. One child per family goes free.
We went into the Reception area and we were greeted by the very friendly assistant. Once she heard that this was our first visit, she was eager to let us know some of the things we might be able to see and to explain the various routes.

courtesy of www.coolplaces.co.uk

In the Reception I noticed they have Wildlife Explorer's Backpacks for children available at £3 each, plus they advertise a range of other activities from seasonal events, pond dipping (Easter to October Half Term - £2 per kit), hands-on family events during school holidays and much more! I even noticed that they have a Ladies Running Group there regularly! For full details on upcoming events please visit their website.

Once we had signed in we set off along the first part of our trail. This was a pleasant trail called the Fen Walk and afforded us many natural wonders to explore and enjoy. We went past the pond dipping area at the start of the trail and had a little look about, I think we will be having a try at this next time.

Further along the walk we found ourselves walking alongside a river which was a good time to stop and enjoy the view. The calm waters stretching out into the distance and dragonflies flitting in and out of the reeds. 

Whilst we watched we saw a leisure boat coming along and the girls enjoyed waving as it passed us by. 

As the path turned left away from the river we found the old Pumping House, originally introduced to drain the fen in the 1700's and later replaced by this building in the 1800's, this pump is now redundant but still an interesting relic to view.

We continued our way along, heading away from the river and with dykes on either side, the girls were fascinated with the build up along the path from the dredging which had been carried out. They started poking around the muck with Chris and discovered that it was a very heavy clay based soil. Emily insisted on taking a handful along with her for the rest of our ramble!

Shortly we came upon the junction to the Woodland Trail and had a choice, continue to follow the Fen Trail or turn off and enter the Woods. 
For the girls there was no question and we found ourselves leaving the low Autumn sun and venturing into the shaded woods. 

As we walked further into the trees, the damp woodiness and abundant fungi gave the woods a sensory enhancement.
Alongside the footpath through the trees we happened upon log piles and nearby stumps. The girls made a discovery in each of these stumps, they all seemed to have been made into a dish shape on the top and were full of  rain water, we presume for the birds and wildlife.

With the added fallen leaves, Emily thought they were more like Fairy baths! Either way they were very pretty and a great way of accumulating fresh water without the use of artificial containers.

There were several clearings along the Woodland Trail and many had natural ponds and on a couple of occassions we could see through to fields with horses grazing. 

After a while we turned into the last stretch towards the end and along here we paused for a rest and the girls decided to clamber about on a large wooden gate, ever the one to snap a photo of the girls Chris managed to capture this beauty!

Then it was time to head out, picking blackberries on the way, we only managed to find a few as it was the end of the season for them but I bet a few weeks before this the bushes would have been  bountiful in juicy berries.

Once we were back at the Reception, the lovely lady asked us all about our walk and we treated ourselves to hot chocolate and flapjack before heading home. Drinks and snacks were easily priced at £1 each and just outside the reception there are picnic benches where we sat to enjoy our refreshments.

On the way in and out of the reserve you pass a roped off area with plenty of bird feeders which were certainly attracting hungry birds when we visited and adjacent to this a bumper flower bed with foliage planted to attract butterflies and bees. We also spotted graceful swans along our walk. Along the trials there are a few hides and we did have a peek in these to see what we could spot, the girls didn't completely grasp that they needed to be quiet in these so as not to scare away the birds so we didn't stay too long as there were other people enjoying some spotting.

There is also a Meadow Trail which is open in Spring and Summer only so we will definately have to return for this.

To find out more about Strumpshaw Fen then please visit their website or find  them on Facebook.

We can't wait to return and enjoy the beautiful scenery and the added benefits of the fresh air, exercise and family time. Next time we need to remeber that wellies are a must! 

Thanks for reading


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