If you haven’t experienced rewilding yet, these walking tours serve as a great introduction to places which are being restored to their glorious, natural state. The routes take you through the diverse, seasonal activities at Wild Ken Hill, which is being returned to nature and sustainable farming in coastal west Norfolk.
Using rewilding, regenerative farming, and traditional conservation practices side-by-side in a unique, innovative approach, Wild Ken Hill, offers a wonderful opportunity to explore the ground beneath our feet, learning how to grow food sustainably with the soil’s best interest in mind.
The best time to go on one of these spectacular guided tours, which are £35 per person, is either in February or March, October or November when nature is full of life as it transitions between seasons. The shorter days also allow walkers and explorers to see the wonders of sunrise through to sunset.
Tour 1 Beavers
This tour offers the opportunity to learn how and why Wild Ken Hill reintroduced Norfolk’s first beavers for hundreds of years. You’ll go into the 50 acre enclosure with an expert guide and see just how these currently four spectacular mammals are tailoring the landscape to their choosing.
Wandering through the tangly and wet woodland, you’ll be able to see the intricate dams and structures they have created, the highly visible signs of their feeding, and maybe the other wildlife including ducks, birds, water voles who are enjoying sharing a home with this keystone species.
Whilst the beavers are occasionally out and about in the day, they are nevertheless largely nocturnal so it is unlikely you will be able to make their actual acquaintance. Your guide will regale the times they were lucky enough to see the creatures out on their daily patrol, the excitement as the beavers were released into the new enclosure, and why it’s so important that we reinstate this animal in the UK.
Tour 2 Rewilding in Practice
This guided tour captures a moment in time: Wild Ken Hill in the early stages of its rewilding journey, asking what rewilding really means on the ground.
Intended as a deeper dive into ‘rewilding’, your guide will explore its impact in lowland England, how returning land to nature works in practice, and the array of benefits that occur when Nature is allowed to follow its own course.
Your guide will explain how this marginal land was managed historically and how it is now making way for Nature’s own structure. We’ll look at the scrub marching out from the hedgerow and focus on its importance to birds, insects, and other wildlife, as well as to carbon capture.
Naturalistic grazing in the rewilding landscape will be another theme, as your guide explains our approach in decisions introducing Exmoor ponies, Red Poll cattle and Tamworth pigs, and the phenomenal impact they are already having on vegetation structure.
Tour 3 Dusk on the Marsh
This guided tour encapsulates twilight, with its collision of starts and ends to the wildlife day, a wonderful time to be out watching and listening.
Using an open-air lookout on the Wild Ken Hill freshwater marshes you might see Short-eared Owls and Barn Owls quartering the land in search of a rodent meal, while Kestrel and Buzzard are preparing for bed.
You might see an aerial display from numbers of roosting Marsh Harriers as they jostle for the top roosting spots or glimpse Peregrine Falcons chasing the duck and waders feeding on the marsh in hope of gaining an evening meal.
You might hear Wigeon whistling, seasonal honking of the skeins of Pink-footed Geese that populate the evening sky or the distant chatter of wading birds and gulls on the wash.
Or you may just be lucky with a spectacular sunset. In any event, you’ll return in the darkness, having been immersed in the natural beauty of this time of day.
Tour 4 The Big Picture
This guided tour offers the Big Picture view of the diverse, seasonal activities at Wild Ken Hill, experiencing the different ways the team work with nature.
Moving through the rewilding area you’ll understand the marvellous work done by the wandering grazing species – Exmoor ponies, Tamworth pigs and Red Poll cattle. In line with the seasons you’ll witness the vivid wildlife – from browsing deer, colourful plants to peeping songbirds. They’re all benefiting from the return of land to nature. Whilst nocturnal beavers will most likely be at rest, you’ll see evidence of their inexhaustible efforts to benefit our wetlands.
Down towards the sweeping vista of the sea, you can learn about the importance of The Wash and its Marsh for the wading birds of the Norfolk coast. According to the time of year, you might see any number of Curlew, Lapwing, Avocet, and learn how these breeding birds gain from the incredible surroundings.
In the woodland, look out for the variety of flowers and fungi, butterflies and bats, as well as the significance of deadwood and glades. The Ken Hill Plain is abundant with purple heather – another crucial habitat.
These ideas are presented and supported by EXPERIENCE a project co-financed by the European Regional Development Fund through the Interreg France (Channel) England Programme
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