Carlton & Oulton Marshes Nature Reserve
Know before you go
Entry feeFree. Charges apply for school visits to the education centre
Grazing animalsCattle graze areas
Wheelchairs and pushchairs can use a firm path around part of the marsh including easy access gates. The education centre is open for events and education groups and is accessible to all and has a disabled toilet.
Wheelchairs and pushchairs can use a firm path around part of the marsh including easy access gates. Parts of this reserve are accessible by mobility scooter.
When to visit
Opening timesDaily dawn to dusk
Best time to visitAll year round
About the reserve
An astounding 15 kinds of dragonfly have been spotted here Carlton & Oulton Marshes lies in the Waveney Valley at the southern tip of the Norfolk Broads and is part of the Suffolk Broads. It comprises a jigsaw of grazing marsh, fens, peat pools, short fen meadow, tall litter fen, dykes, pools and scrub. Mostly man-made, these habitats have developed over hundreds of years of traditional management and now host specialised wildlife.
This reserve is the Broads in miniature. Flower studded marshes drained by a system of dykes and grazed by cattle in summer, creates a paradise for marsh land birds and birds of prey including the hobby and marsh harrier. . In early summer there is a fabulous display of southern marsh orchid, marsh marigold and ragged-robin, together with the scarcer bogbean, bog pimpernel and marsh cinquefoil. Water vole may also be seen in and around the dykes along with special plants including the rare and protected water soldier. In early summer wet fen meadows around Sprat’s Water are bursting with ragged-robin, & southern marsh orchid, lesser and greater spearwort and bogbean.
Both Sprat’s and Round Water are the result of peat digging carried out long ago. The open water in both these pools is heaving with life including insectivorous bladderwort. This unusual plant lives off unsuspecting water fleas which it traps and digests in bladder-like sacs under water. These habitats are ideal for the rare fen raft spider which was successfully reintroduced to the reserve in 2012. Carlton & Oulton Marshes one of the best places in the UK for a range of freshwater snails which reflects the good water quality in the dykes.
The reserve is also one of the best sites in East Anglia to see grasshopper warblers. The reed and sedge beds along the river wall make ideal nesting cover for reed and sedge warblers, bearded tit, Cetti’s warbler and marsh harrier. The marshes are also ideal for wintering wildfowl and breeding waders with large numbers of wigeon, teal and snipe.