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The River Waveney at Homersfield (c) Hugh Chevallier


Whether you’re an intrepid David Attenborough or a keen greenthumb, the towns along Suffolk’s River Waveney have plenty to enthral you.
Marsh harrier (c) RSPB Minsmere / Jon EvansMarsh harriers can often be seen soaring over Carlton Marshes near Oulton Broad
Photo (c) Jon Evans
The most easterly place in Britain, Lowestoft has been described by the Wildlife Trust as having an “extraordinary wealth of wildlife.” Its mix of urban and open spaces is bisected by the River Waveney, making it a great place to spot birds like red kites, shrikes, Cetti’s Warblers, and of course the numerous seabirds that make their home just inland. If you follow the River Waveney to Lowestoft beach and look out across the coast, you might even catch a glimpse of an inquisitive seal or two, heads poking out of the water.
West of Lowestoft on the River Waveney is Oulton Broad, where you’ll find Carlton Marshes, an internationally important nature reserve. The 151 hectares of wetland contains a dazzling array of wildlife. Marsh harriers, teals, kestrels and hobbies dance in the skies, while at ground level the observant can see grass snakes, fen raft spiders, otters, and even Chinese water deer. Botanical life flourishes in these marshy conditions too, such as bladderwort, bog pimpernel, ragged robin and marsh marigold (all of which have a beauty not suggested by their plug-ugly names). The reserve is managed by Suffolk Wildlife Trust who run regular guided walks and events.
Oulton Broad is an ideal place for young children to develop an interest in nature. At Pets Corner they can meet a menagerie of animals including parrots, monkeys and goats, and there are plenty of petting opportunities to pet and hold some of the animals. If you find exotic animals more fascinating then head to Africa Alive just south of Lowestoft, where you can watch giraffes stride across the landscape, walk amongst lemurs and come face to face with rhinos and lions.
Boat on the River Waveney (c) Milo BostockThere's no better way to explore the River Waveney than by boat
Photo (c) Milo Bostock
Travel further up-river and you’ll come to the market town of Beccles. You can reach it in just twenty minutes by car, but we recommend you hire a boat or canoe and do the journey via river. It’s an ideal way to enjoy the sights of this tranquil environment; the trees and reedbeds along the banks provide habitat for wildlife: waterfowl, dragonflies and other minibeasts are all easily spotted, as well as a profusion of flowers and plants.
Once you arrive in Beccles, one of the best things you can do is follow one of the Marsh Trails. These popular walks of varying length take you across traditional broadland landscape scored by drainage ditches. These dykes are a haven for wildlife, such as the Norfolk hawker dragonfly that only lives in the Broads. There is abundant plantlife too; the purple loosestrife, branched bur-reed, and the endangered natural water soldier all make their home in the dykes.


Wherever you decide to go wildlife spotting along the River Waveney, make sure you take a camera with you to capture the animals and plants you see on film. We’d love to see any photos you take, so if you feel like sharing you can reach us via Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.