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Black Bourn Valley

There’s something special taking place in the Black Bourn Valley.

Wildflower meadows like a piece of forgotten Suffolk

The flowery riverside meadows at what was previously known as the Grove Farm nature reserve are already one of the largest and richest in central Suffolk.

And now, following a public campaign and legacies from Gerald Ford and Mary Newman, 70 acres of river valley have been added to the site to create a magnificent landscape for wildlife that sweeps down the valley sides with the Black Bourn at its heart.

The linking of Grove Farm to the river to form the Black Bourn Valley nature reserve will, in time, enable the rejuvenation of the valley and the creation of an even wilder, wetter river corridor.

Later in the year, when conditions are drier under foot, work will also begin to improve trails and car parking at the reserve, opening up this lovely piece of lost Suffolk for everyone.

But at the heart of the reserve remains Grove Farm with its wide field margins, scrub and thick hedges of hawthorn, hazel, dog rose, oak and willow that support a large number of bird species. In the spring, blackcap, willow warbler, yellow hammer and linnet breed while skylark can be seen hovering above the set aside fields and snipe winter in the meadows.

You may even be lucky and see a secretive otter – reintroduced to the waters of the Black Bourn just north of Ixworth in 1984 – which are seen on the grazing marshes and intersecting dykes.

Plants like southern marsh orchid, marsh marigold, marsh valerian and ragged-robin bloom in the wet meadows bordering the River Black Bourn, in early summer. On the higher, drier land flowers like self heal, ox-eye daisy and common cat’s-ear can be found.

U3A volunteers at Grove Farm by Juliet Hawkins

In 2012 Suffolk Wildlife Trust received a bursary to train, equip and organise a monitoring project at Grove Farm with the help of volunteers from the University of the Third Age.

Two years on and over 900 plant records and nearly 400 pond records have been collated, including 17 Nationally Notable and Local aquatic invertebrates. In 2014 The Freshwater Habitats Trust selected Grove Farm as a Flagship Pond Site.

Find out more - 2014 Progress Report.

Grove Farm was gifted to Suffolk Wildlife Trust in the will of Laura Cooper.

Nearby nature reserves

Mickle Mere
3 miles - Suffolk Wildlife Trust
Bradfield Woods
5 miles - Suffolk Wildlife Trust
Bull's Wood
7 miles - Suffolk Wildlife Trust

Nature reserve map

Reserve information

Between Norton and Thurston
IP31 3SQ
Map reference

GPS Info
From A1088 head west towards Great green and Thurston. Car parking on left 100m beyond Barrell's lane junction.

Great for...
a family day out
spring flowers
Best time to visit
Apr - Aug
Get directions
Find out here
Public transport
Plan your journey
Opening Times
Open at all times
88.00 hectares
County Wildlife Site

Walking information
Can be muddy
Off road
Dogs must be on lead
Reserve manager
William Cranstoun
Tel: 01284 728541


Factsheets and guides for your visit