Carlton Marshes Nature Reserve
Please note - Café hatch and toilets are open 10am-4pm, 7 days a week. The enclosed hides are currently closed, but the open-air viewpoints are all available.
Know before you go
Entry feeFree. Charges apply for school visits to the education centre.
Parking informationFree car park
Grazing animalsCattle graze mainly between April and November.
Wheelchairs and pushchairs can use a firm path around part of the marsh including easy access gates.
Oulton Marshes address: Church Lane, Oulton, NR32 3JP
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.
Carlton Marshes has good public transport links with buses stopping near the end of Burnt Hill Lane on the A146 and Oulton Broad South and North stations being a 20 or 30 minute walk respectively.
No drone flying without express permission.
(Permission will only be granted in exceptional circumstances)
When to visit
Opening timesDaily dawn to dusk
Best time to visitAll year round
About the reserve
An astounding 28 species of dragonfly have been spotted here. Carlton Marshes lie 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 fen (called '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 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 rare plants including Water Soldier and Frogbit. These habitats are ideal for the rare Fen Raft Spider which was successfully reintroduced to the reserve in 2012. Carlton & Oulton Marshes are also one of the best places in the UK for a range of freshwater snails which reflects the good water quality in the dykes.
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.
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 grazing marshes are also ideal for wintering wildfowl and breeding waders with Lapwing and Redshank displaying through the spring and large numbers of Wigeon, Teal and Snipe in winter.
Explore Carlton Marshes from the air
Latest news and blogs
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BBC Countryfile features Carlton Marshes Nature Reserve
Tune in to BBC 1 at 7pm on Sunday 23rd August 2020 and watch Margherita Taylor explore the wonders of this magnificent nature reserve…