At Norfolk’s northwest corner, where The Wash meets the North Sea, Holme Dunes is superbly located to attract migrating birds.
It also holds a variety of important habitats which support numerous other wildlife species including natterjack toads, butterflies and dragonflies, as well as a large number of interesting plants. Various military remains from the Second World War can be glimpsed around the reserve, including the remnants of a target-railway used to train artillery.
Much earlier remains have also been discovered including Roman pottery and, in 1998, a well-preserved Bronze Age timber circle, which became known as ‘Seahenge’. The circle was uncovered by strong tides, having been hidden for some 4,000 years. No longer at Holme, the structure was removed for preservation purposes by archaeologists. It is now on view at King’s Lynn Museum.
Birds – Little tern, ring ouzel, ringed plover, redshank, lapwing, marsh harrier, shoveler
Reptiles and amphibians – Natterjack toad
Birds – Avocet, little tern, black-tailed godwit, ringed plover, redshank, lapwing, bittern, marsh harrier, shoveler
Reptiles and amphibians – Natterjack toad
Plants – Southern marsh orchid, sea lavender
Birds – Black-tailed godwit, wigeon, pink footed goose, brent goose, Slavonian grebe, twite, spotted redshank, pied flycatcher, curlew, bar-tailed godwit, knot, ringed plover, redshank, lapwing
Birds – Wigeon, pink footed goose, brent goose, snow bunting, long tailed duck, Slavonian grebe, twite, spotted redshank, curlew, bar-tailed godwit, knot, ringed plover, redshank, lapwing
Probably planted to help stabilise the dunes, this spiky silvery shrub is prevalent here. In autumn, its bright orange berries are a godsend to the thousands of migrating birds, such as wintering thrushes, that stop off at Holme.
There are few sights in Norfolk more evocative than the ghostly form of a barn owl carefully quartering the fields and dykes. NWT Holme Dunes is one of the best places to catch up with the ethereal birds as they hunt silently over the grazing marshes in the late afternoon. Calm days are the best time to observe them.
This unmistakeable black-and-white wader, with its characteristic upturned bill, breeds in small numbers on the reserve, and can often be watched feeding in front of the hides during the summer.
Migrating and vagrant birds
The unique location of NWT Holme Dunes means it attracts large numbers of migrating birds. In spring, wheatears and warblers are common, with large numbers of finches and thrushes in the autumn. Scarce migrants such as wryneck, yellow-browed warbler and barred warbler are almost annual. When the conditions are just right, thousands of tired migrants take shelter among the scrub and dunes in what is known as a ‘fall’.
Holme is a good place to seawatch: with the correct winds gannets, skuas, terns and divers can be watched passing by the coastline in their hundreds.
The visitor centre is open daily until 31 October ,10am – 5pm, and then weekends only 10am-4pm (plus 26 December / 1 January 2022). There is a small shop selling gifts and a cafe in the visitor centre.
The reserve is open year-round from 10am to 5pm.
Access for those with limited mobility
From the car park it is possible to access the Norfolk Coast Path via a hardened path. The coastal path which runs adjacent to the reserve has some sections of easy access boardwalk. The reserve also has some sections of boardwalk/hardened paths leading to one accessible hide.
No specific disabled car parking bays but a rough surface leads to the centre and a ramp to the entrance and patio area. The unisex toilets are wheelchair accessible but are only available when the centre is open.
Please note that the dunes and their wildlife are very susceptible to erosion and disturbance, so please follow all on-site access instructions. During busy periods in the summer visitor numbers may be limited.
Some areas of reserve in ‘Open Access’, but only at certain times of the year. Please observe signage on site and keep dogs under control or on a short lead to avoid disturbance to livestock and wildlife.
Dogs are welcome at Holme in the outside seating area of the visitor centre but we do not allow dogs into the café area.
Members and children / Free
Non members / £4.50 (with Gift Aid) Standard Price: £4
Reserve: is open daily throughout the year between 10am-5pm (or dusk, if earlier, during winter)
Visitor centre and cafe: The visitor centre is open daily until 31 October ,10am-5pm, and then weekends only 10am-4pm (plus 26 December / 1 January)
Cafe closes 30 minutes before the centre closes
Call the centre: 01485 525240