The River Wensum (including its banks) is a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI). The river is also a Special Area of Conservation. These are legal designations. As such, under the provisions of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, it is an offence to undertake certain operations without prior permission from Natural England, the Government's agency for protecting nature. To find out more about the River Wensum and its SSSI status follow the links here.
Parts of the land (including the Great Witchingham Fuel Allotment land) are a County Wildlife Site. This means that the site has been recognised as one of the best sites for wildlife in addition to official nature reserves. A County Wildlife Site does not have any statutory protection, but its value is recognised by the Norfolk County Council Structure Plan, and are adopted by the Trustees of the Great Witchingham Fuel Allotment Charity. The site formerly qualified for grant from the Forestry commission which continues under the English Small Woods Scheme and is also part of Norfolk County Council Wet Woodlands initiative.
A Walking / Birdwatching permit complements the membership at Charity lakes ( Please Contact us for further details) which allows our members to visit this picturesque site and stroll by the river to enjoy all that the Wensum Valley has to offer. Catch a glimpse of the barn owl at dusk as it glides silently across the flood meadows or follow the tracks left by the nocturnal otter as it follows the river down to Lenwade mill. Over wintering wildfowl enjoy the relative shelter that the lakes provide and the ever present kingfisher brings a burst of colour to a dull overcast day.
We will be working with wildlife organisations over the coming months to improve the habitat in the area to attract further species to the site. A mornings walk can bring you close to a large range of birds, several species of dragonfly and butterflies and the ever present deer will never be to far away yet it will be the bird song and tranquillity of the site which will make you want to come back again.
The site is known to hold one of the oldest stands of Alder in the Wensum Valley and many of the areas on site are protected we intend to supplement planting with traditional species of trees such as Oak as non indigenous species are felled
Please note it is important to stay on the tracks while at the lakes as some areas can be extremely boggy in wet conditions.