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Fitness / Practicalities
Tour Director

  • Explore Norfolk’s important and increasingly rare heathland alongside its distinctive wildlife

  • Enjoy a boat trip from Morston Quay to Blakeney Point before investigating the impact of the last Ice Age on the landscape around Blakeney

  • Take a guided walk through Dersingham Bog National Nature Reserve, part of the Sandringham Estate, and learn about the practicalities and challenges of front-line conservation in the UK

"Excellent short tour. Programme varied and stimulating"

“Wide ranging and very interesting”

– ACE customers on previous natural history tours in Norfolk led by Mark Welch

In a landscape where vast flawless beaches stretch for miles, where wind-tousled reeds bob their heads beneath huge summer sunsets and flint-walled churches cleave to the coastline, we will step out to experience some of the UK’s most captivating wildlife.

Midsummer is a particularly dynamic time to enjoy Norfolk, as it comes alive with bird, insect and plant life. We expect to see birds including woodlarks and waders, and will enter the mysterious twilight world of the nightjar. Tour Director Mark Welch will adopt a holistic perspective, with commentary ranging from the distinctive formation of the landscape to the insects that call it home.

Kelling Heath, a Site of Special Scientific Interest, is an important glacial outwash plain formed by retreating glaciers of the last Ice Age. The area provides habitats for a variety of heathland birds among the heather, gorse and bracken, as well as other inhabitants including stonechat, adder, brown hare and the rare silver-studded blue butterfly. An evening excursion will offer an opportunity to see nightjar, woodlark and, possibly, tree pipit.

Blakeney will welcome us for a day both on land and sea, taking in the colonies of common seal and their pups that loaf in the summer sunshine, as well as terns and early returning migrants. At St Margaret’s Church in Cley we will view the village’s lasting impression of a rare North American visitor, a white-crowned sparrow, immortalised in a stained-glass window after this tiny bird was discovered in the vicar’s garden. To finish the day, we shall visit the Blakeney esker, a remnant of the last Ice Age, which offers a fascinating insight into the area’s geological history.

New for 2025, we will enjoy an excursion to the Overstrand-Sidestrand-Trimingham coastline to learn about the glacio-tectonic effects of the Anglian Glaciation, studying the huge rafts of Cretaceous chalk in the cliffs emplaced by glaciers 450,000 years ago.

A further highlight will be a morning visit to Dersingham Bog National Nature Reserve, part of the Sandringham Estate. Incorporating rare lowland ‘acid’ mire habitat, heath and mixed woodland, the reserve is the perfect place to discover unusual species of plants and insects, including the black darter dragonfly.

We will enjoy a privileged walk with a Natural England Reserves Manager, who will explain more about the challenges and joys of taking care of this beautiful environment for conservation. Indeed, conservation is a theme throughout our tour, which will celebrate Norfolk’s distinctive natural history while appreciating the need to protect its habitats.

We stay throughout at the four-star Pheasant Hotel, a relaxing country house hotel close to Blakeney, and our tour finishes with a delicious lunch at the award-winning Rose & Crown Pub in Snettisham.


Tour Director Mark Welch, BSc, PhD, has had an active interest in natural history since he was a boy in Dorset, where he roamed the heaths, woods, beaches and cliff-tops in search of birds and insects. A former Regional Representative for Cambridgeshire for the British Trust for Ornithology, for many years Mark held the position of research scientist in the Department of Earth Sciences at London’s Natural History Museum. He has led many field trips in the UK as a geologist and naturalist, including in Cornwall, East Anglia and northern Scotland, and looks forward to introducing another ACE group to Norfolk in summer.

Tour Code

Included: accommodation based on sharing a superior twin or double bedded room, four breakfasts, four lunches (three packed), four dinners with water & coffee, excursions & admissions, gratuities & all taxes.

Not Included: travel insurance, classic double room for single use supplement £370.

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