Our Top 5 Autumn Walks
#1. Burgh Castle Circular Walk
Burgh Castle is a third century roman fort built to defend the coast from Saxon raiders. This 1.5 mile easy going circular route around the fort has vast views over Halvergate Marshes and Breydon Water. You can also see Berney Arms Mill, the tallest mill in Norfolk, across the river.
The reedbeds below the fort are usually home to bearded tits, reed and sedge warblers and many species of butterfly. In Autumn, the numbers of wintering waterfowl, including Pink Footed Geese, Golden Plover, Wigeon, Lapwing, Shovelers and Teal are building up on the tidal mudflats of Breydon Water below the fort. At low tide, the waders and wildfowl feed on the invertebrates living where the salt and fresh water meet. Marsh and Hen Harriers also frequent the area in winter. One of the best view points is from the viewing platform overlooking the marshes. Don’t forget to take your binoculars to look out over the flats and spot other wildlife including Heron and Oystercatchers.
To learn more about the fascinating history of this area take a listen to our Angles Way podcasts on Soundcloud exploring Burgh Castle and many other places along the Angles Way. Listen here. Details of the walk and a trail map can be found here.
#2. Suffolk Wildlife Trust (SWT) Carlton Marshes
SWT Carlton Marshes nature reserve is a great site for birdwatching in the Autumn as the marshes are beginning to get busy with wintering wildfowl, large numbers of Wigeon, Lapwing, Teal and Snipe can be spotted in late Autumn and Winter. Other notable birds that have been arriving at Carlton Marshes this Autumn include Green, Common and Wood Sandpipers feeding on the scrapes and Great White Egret, Little Ringed Plover and Little Grebes are being seen regularly from the new hides. A variety of birds of prey can also be seen, especially the young Buzzards and Sparrowhawks, very loud this time of year as they are still calling loudly to their parents. Read more about the changes occurring at the reserve on The Suffolk Wildlife Trust Carlton Marshes Blog.
Autumn is also a good time to spot otters. However, as they remain elusive you’ll need to keep your eyes peeled. They’re most active at dawn and at dusk, so you’ll need to get up early or stay until late if you want to catch a glimpse. See if you can spot their tracks.
There are a number of different walking routes around the reserve including the long-distance walking trail, The Angles Way, crossing through the heart of the reserve. More information about this trail can be found here. With the new visitor centre opening later this autumn, you will have somewhere to warm up with a hot drink and a slice of cake after your walk. Download the SWT Carlton Marsh trail map (2021 update) here.
#3 Beccles Marsh Trail
This 4 mile circular walk starting at Beccles Quay, dubbed the southern gateway to the broads, follows the River Waveney around Beccles Marshes and encircles the extensive dyke systems, both of which are a haven for wildlife. Look out for coots, moorhens and swans as well as medieval walls and iron age causeways. In autumn, the oak leaves are changing colour and in late autumn and winter, ducks and geese inhabit the wet fields. Birds of prey, such as kestrels, harriers, buzzards and owls hover, looking for small mammals. Details of the walk and a trail map can be found here.
#4 Acle WW2 Walk
This 4.5 mile circular trail heads north along the banks of the River Bure, under Acle Bridge then through fields from the village of Upton. During the autumn months, many of the leaves of the trees begin to change colour and a number of shrubs and bushes are adorned with colourful berries and nuts. A colourful array of Fungi fruit and appear in a variety of forms and sometimes in the most unusual places. These bright, warm colours can make for fantastic photos and provide classic autumn scenery for you to enjoy.
This area was heavily defended in WWII in case of German invasion. Several pillboxes and spigot mortar pedestals can still be seen along the route. One spooky twist on this walk, making this an excellent to do close to Halloween, is Acle Bridge, which is also reputed to be haunted. Josiah Burge was murdered on the bridge by a man seeking revenge for the death of his sister and his blood is now said to pool at the location of the fatal attack on the night of 7 April. Details of the walk and a trail map can be found here.
#5. RSPB Strumpshaw Fen
In early autumn, ospreys are regularly seen fishing as they linger on their southward migration and thousands of starlings often gather in large murmurations to roost. Marsh harriers can be seen in larger than usual groups to roost, creating quite a sight.
Other resident species such as Bearded Tits flock together, they stay active during autumn and seek refuge in the shelter of more covered reedbeds and are usually seen flying rapidly across the top of a reedbed. Males have black ‘moustaches’ rather than ‘beards’, despite it’s name. They are sociable and noisy, their ‘ping’ calls often being the first clue to their presence. They change their diet from insects during the spring and summer, to seeds allowing them to survive in the reeds all year round. You may even be lucky enough to spot a flash of a Grey Heron or the striking blue of a kingfisher.
In late autumn and winter, hundreds of ducks, including teals, gadwalls and shovelers, feed in the reedbed pools. The resident bitterns are joined by visitors from the continent, and may be seen flying over the reeds. Look out for Chinese water deer, a non-native species, introduced deliberately and accidentally from collections during the early 20th century, at home in the wet marshes similar to it’s natural habitats in the east. Spot the recently restored steam engine house and chimney, towering over you, it is hard to miss on the woodland trail. More information on the different trails around the reserve, ranging from 0.5 -2.5 miles long, can be found on the RSPB website here. Want to learn a more about the lesser known world of reptiles at Strumpshaw? Check out this tour by A Shot of wildlife on their YouTube channel.
The arrival of Autumn also means colder weather and muddier walking conditions. Be prepared before you venture out this season, dress appropriately, take suitable provisions and a route map with you. If you do not have a mobile phone to hand, let someone know where you are going. Be respectful of wildlife, take care around livestock and take your litter home with you. If in doubt check out the Countryside Code.