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Them's the Brecks . . .

PUBLISHED: 16:52 14 October 2014 | UPDATED: 16:52 14 October 2014

BRECKLAND SUNSET

BRECKLAND SUNSET

CHRIS KNIGHTS

Sammy Fraser from the RSPB goes off the beaten track to explore a fascinating ancient area on the Suffolk/Norfolk border

BRECKLAND HEATHBRECKLAND HEATH

The Brecks is, perhaps, one of the best kept secrets in East Anglia.

While locals and visitors regularly head to the Suffolk coast or the Norfolk Broads for a day out, if you’re looking to take the path less travelled, the Brecks is a heritage and wildlife rich landscape with a fantastic amount to offer.

Found in the heart of East Anglia, the Brecks spans nearly 1,000 square kilometres and encompasses south Norfolk and north Suffolk in its boundary. The area’s climate, geology and land use history are all as fascinating as they are unique, creating a varied landscape punctuated with noteworthy features from the warped pine lines, Thetford Forest, sandy grass heathland, wildlife rich farmland and the ‘pingo’ relics from the last Ice Age.

The habitats that can be seen today have been shaped and formed by thousands of years of human influence, from the first Neolithic farmers who began to cultivate the poor Brecks soil and in turn create heathlands, the flint mining industry whose traces can be seen in local towns and the rabbit warrens that covered a large expanse of the Brecks and provided a livelihood for countless local people.

RABBIT AT GRIMES GRAVESRABBIT AT GRIMES GRAVES

This diversity of human use throughout the centuries has resulted in a rich patchwork of wildlife habitats. Despite the Brecks covering only 0.4% of the UK’s land area it is home to a staggering 12,845 different plants, animals and insects, and 28% of the UK’s rarest species, some of which are found nowhere else in the UK, such as the tiny, beautiful Breckland thyme and Breckland speedwell plants.

Thetford Forest is the UK’s largest lowland pine forest spanning 22,000 hectares and offering a multitude of opportunities for an activity filled day.

At the Forestry Commission’s High Lodge you can explore the forest trails on bike or by foot looking out for secretive roe deer or the lightening flash of a goshawk.

With trails covering much of the forest you can spend a day roaming among the trees.

STONE CURLEWSTONE CURLEW

So if you feel like donning your walking boots and getting out exploring a hidden gem in Suffolk this autumn why not head into the Brecks? You could visit a nature reserve, explore the forest or head to a free RSPB event.

To find out more about this wildlife rich area, or to plan a Brecks experience of your own, visit:

• www.brecks.org

• www.rspb.org.uk/futurescapes/thebrecks

• www.rspb.org.uk/events

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