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Norfolk break
8 – 10 September 2020 * (successfully completed)
15 – 18 September 2020 * (successfully completed)
22 24 September 2020 * (successfully completed)

29 September 1 October 2020 * (successfully completed)

Three days in the field around the Norfolk Broads

* Dates noted are days in the field. Participants will probably all arrive on the previous evening (7/14/21/28 September).

This web page is to give outline details of Honeyguide's 'Norfolk break', a new staycation idea given the difficulties of travelling overseas in 2020. The plan is that participants book the hotel themselves, and Honeyguide's Chris Durdin will be your nature guide for the stay.

Itinerary

The first morning will follow Honeyguide tradition by being on foot to Norfolk Wildlife Trust's Thorpe Marshes, a very short walk from the hotel and Chris's local patch.

After that the plan is flexible. The intention is to try to keep travel distances down, to focus on places Chris knows well and not so much on famous nature reserves like Cley and Titchwell Marsh which are a bit further and where it’s easy to visit unguided. Places to visit could include RSPB Strumpshaw Fen, NWT Buxton Heath, Potter Heigham Marshes, Winterton Dunes NNR, Hickling / Horsey and Holt Country Park.

Thorpe Marshes, 27 April 2020
NWT Thorpe Marshes

September wildlife on the marshes: high summer flowers carry on into early autumn, marsh woundwort and angelica flowers especially. There are still dragonflies, damselflies and a few butterflies on sunny days. Mornings can be wet with dew, of course. Some birds are singing again, notably Cetti's warbler, robin and chiffchaff.

marsh woundwort angelica orange balsam
Flowers to look out for in September: marsh woundwort, angelica, orange balsam.

Hotel

Accommodation will be at the Oaklands Hotel, Yarmouth Road, Thorpe St Andrew, Norwich. For anyone who is interested, please contact us and we will forward an email with details of how to book the special package arranged for Honeyguiders. This package includes breakfast and a budget for an evening meal.

En suite facilities.

Lunches: to be decided, probably a mix of a garden buffet (one day, included), a café and packed lunch. The hotel can provide packed lunches.

Covid-19: the hotel’s outside eating terrace, already big, has been greatly extended with huge sunshades/covers that also have patio heaters, if need be. This means that a group of five or six sitting together is fine, and we aren’t reliant on dry, warm weather. There is a lot of attention to regular cleaning: it’s very thorough.

The Oaklands Hotel is listed as a Best Western hotel, which is a marketing cooperative, though it's locally owned. The owner also owns a farm shop at Blofield (near Strumpshaw Fen) and there is a very new, additional outlet for this at the hotel, which boosts using local produce and low food miles.

Holiday details & how to book

Days/dates: the dates above are three days in the field, Tuesday to Thursday. We expect most people to have four nights at the Oaklands Hotel: to arrive on the Monday and leave on Friday morning. Leaving during Thursday could be possible, for example if you are moving on someone else locally.

Hotel cost: to be advised by email and depends on the choice of room.

Price: £50 per day fee for your guide (September 2020). Future dates maybe different.

Deposit: none to Honeyguide. You will be invoiced after the break, or deposits already held by Honeyguide adjusted.

Booking: no booking form is needed. Just keep us informed!

Travel to Norwich: Chris can collect from Norwich railway station anyone arriving by train. An exception is the third week, when I am not available on Monday 21 September. There are taxis at Norwich railway station and a door-to-door bus route.

Local travel: in your car, or in Chris's car if you are comfortable with that. No minibus is being booked: this is partly for cost reasons, and partly for Covid-19 practicalities.

Maximum number (one guide): 5 plus guide. This is to follow current Covid-19 protocols of up to six people (full UK Government advice here). This number is a further constraint in that we cannot arrange to meet others locally e.g. an additional nature reserve guide. Also, under current rules, a group from mixed households cannot take a hire boat onto the Broads.

Conservation project

Not included in the hotel or guide payment. We suggest a donation towards Norfolk Wildlife Trust's Thorpe Marshes, which we can collect during the break and then pass on.

Guide

Chris Durdin is the driving force behind Honeyguide, running holidays since 1991. For many years he combined this with his work for the RSPB in Eastern England, often the Society’s spokesman, but has been concentrating on Honeyguide full-time since 2009. Chris is the co-author of a book about Norfolk’s cranes and leads regular walks on his local wildlife trust nature reserve, Norfolk Wildlife Trust's Thorpe Marshes. He’s also a barbershop singer. As a naturalist, Chris is an all rounder.

common darter
Common darter, common on sunny days in autumn.

Create your own Norfolk break

The Norfolk breaks on this web page were our first.

Additional breaks dates with Chris Durdin as guide may be possible. Variations on this theme could include an additional guided day, or one day less, or days out.

There's good wildlife to enjoy in Norfolk year-round. If you're keen in general on this idea, we can think about a suitable plan.

migrant hawker

Migrant hawker, male, 18 Sept 2013.

Holiday reports & photos

Norfolk break no 1 8–10 Sept 2020 (report) and more photos here, mostly by David Bennett.

Norfolk break no 2 15-18 September 2020 (report)

More photos by Mervin Nethercoat on Flickr and Jillian Macready on OneDrive.

Norfolk break no 3 22-24 September 2020 (report)

Norfolk break no 4 29 September-1 October (report)

Highlights with photos on news.

Photos on Facebook: a selection from Chris Durdin from all four weeks.

Willow emeralds

Willow Emerald (Derek Longe)

Willow emerald damselfly (Derek Longe).

Thorpe Marshes is a great place to see this damselfly and September is peak season for them.

More about willow emeralds here.

More September wildlife

Oakland Hotel outside eating area

The hotel’s outside eating terrace, already big, has been greatly extended with huge sunshades/covers that also have patio heaters. In winter there is indoor dining.

Migrant Hawker, female

Migrant Hawker, female. Note the 'golf tee' mark just behind the wing bases.

nodding bur marigold

Nodding bur marigold, photographed 7 September

Araneus quadratus

4-spot orb web spider, Araneus quadratus 30 Sept 2014.

Chris Durdin

Chris Durdin in Extremadura, February 2015 (Howard Bayliss).

Customer protection

Honeyguide normally offers customer protection through our Air Travel Operator's Licence (see our ATOL page). There are no flights so that doesn't apply.

Your accommodation contract is with the hotel and with only guiding provided by Honeyguide, there is no holiday 'package'.

Facebook Honeyguide
... where there are many holiday photos to enjoy.

Atol protected

The air holidays shown are ATOL Protected by the Civil Aviation Authority. Our ATOL number is ATOL 3253. ATOL Protection extends primarily to customers who book and pay in the United Kingdom. Click on the ATOL logo if you want to know more.

Helping you enjoy wildlife – Helping you protect wildlife