Suffolk Heritage Coast – Part 1 - Orlando / Florida Guide
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This small slice of East Anglia’s coast is an untamed blend of endangered landscapes, unusual history and unique wildlife waiting to be discovered. If you like walking or bird watching then this trip is for you.
Golden sands and candy-coloured beach huts is how many of us picture Suffolk’s sunny coastline. However, there is a much wilder side to discover. Winding along the fringes of East Anglia, the section known as the Heritage Coast is a patchwork of seaside habitats. It includes critically endangered lowland heath to marsh and wetland, each playing a critical role in supporting thousands of wildlife species. Unlike other parts of the country, the lack of permitted development has meant many of these areas have flourished, helping Suffolk’s coast become an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. So it’s no surprise, then, that this is one of the UK’s best birdwatching sites and one where twitchers have been flocking to for years. It is the most northerly breeding ground for the Dartford warbler, despite its native heathlands having dwindled. Yet mild winters have meant the warbler, a celebrity in this area has thrived in recent times, with numbers growing.
It has an impressive supporting cast too with over 400 species of bird have been recorded along the Suffolk coast. Dunwich Heath is filled with woodlarks, nightjars and stonechats. Just down the road at the RSPB’s Minsmere nature reserve, which is the base for the BBC’s Springwatch, there are around 5, 000 species of wildlife. Over 300 of these are birds, including majestic marsh harriers and bitterns, whose signature calls boom across the landscape.
It’s not just the sky that’s full of life. Red deer, the UK’s largest wild mammal, are commonly spotted darting across woodland tracks. Visit in autumn for a special wildlife treat which is the rutting season. Five of the UK’s six remaining deer species roam Suffolk’s wilds and you can find otters, adders hiding under the shade of the gorse bushes and plenty of butterflies. Besides its buzzing wildlife, Suffolk brims with history. Even though its coastline has remained untamed and avoided tatty tourist traps on its beaches, it hasn’t always just been sleepy villages. The seaside enclave of Dunwich once served as a prosperous 11th-century port town of 4, 000 people, making it one of the largest in England.
Today, coastal erosion has reduced it to a single street of 60 people, with the old settlement swallowed by the sea. Ruins also punctuate other beautiful villages that are spread around Suffolk’s fringes, such as Victorian influenced Southwold and Walberswick.
It’s an interesting time in Suffolk is now as some UK based tour operators are beginning to offer wildlife package tours of this area for those that do not want to arrange it all themselves.
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Page added on: 10 October 2018
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