Detailed review by micksheff
Sheffield, United Kingdom
Titchwell Marsh on the north coast of Norfolk is the most visited of all of the RSPB reserves in Britain.
The area consists of marshland and shallow lagoons with reed beds that are set just a few metres inland from the coast . Along the boundary of the reserve there is a shingle and sandy beach that runs along parallel to the reserve. The low lying land that comprises the reserve is actually below the level of the sea and there is a high sea wall with a footpath along the top of it that has so far been successful in preventing the sea from flooding across the reserve.
These current sea defences have not however always held back the forces of nature and the lagoons that we see today were created in 1953 when the sea broke through its defences. This area was then left derelict for the next twenty years until 1973 when over 400 acres of this former farmland was purchased by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) who set about creating a haven for wildlife.
Careful management by the RSPB has created a variety of different habitats including several artificial lagoons where the water levels can be controlled. To assist visitors there are also three different observation hides that look out over the reserve. Some of these are elevated to give panoramic views across the water and reed beds.
Unlike many other nature reserves this reserve is very accessible for disabled visitors, the footpaths are wide and the terrain is flat. The majority of the paths have gravel or large stones on top of them but I would however assume that the paths with the larger stones would be a greater challenge for wheelchair pushers. Having said that I have often seen people in wheelchairs on these paths.
Each year this nature reserve attracts over 100,000 human visitors that come here to see the hundreds of thousands of migrating birds that are attracted here. Many birds also spend the winter here too. Titchwell is also noted for its rare breeding birds which include Bittern, Marsh Harrier and Avocet.
There is a visitor centre next to the car park and this also contains a shop and a café. The shop sells a wide range of books, optical equipment and outdoor clothing. It is also possible to hire binoculars from here for a small fee and a deposit. The car park is also the only location on the reserve where toilets can be found. These are fully equipped for disabled visitors and they also have baby changing facilities.
From the visitor centre the footpaths are clearly visible. I usually walk around the northern boundary of the reserve on the path that is on top of the sea wall as this enables a good view across the whole area. This route can however sometimes be a problem as there is often a strong, cold wind blowing up here and on these days I take one of the lower, more sheltered routes.
I would recommend a visit to Titchwell at any time of the year, although early to mid October is probably my favourite time. This is the transitional period when the last summer visitors are leaving, whilst those birds that spend the winter in Britain are just arriving.
In early October I have often seen Snow Buntings, Shore Larks and Lapland Buntings on the beach amongst the huge flocks of Linnets and Greenfinches that gather here. This is also a good time of the year to see Short Eared Owls or Barn Owls hunting on the reserve, especially if it is approaching dusk.
The reserve is open at all times but the visitor centre is only open between 9.30am until 5pm during the summer and until 4pm during winter. There is a charge to park at the reserve for non RSPB members of £4 (6 Euros) per vehicle.
Titchwell Marsh is located close to the small village of Titchwell, from where this nature reserve derives it name. It is about five miles to the east of Hunstanton, right on the very top coast of the county of Norfolk.
Titchwell Marsh Nature Reserve