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26 November 2020

ACE Tour Director Mark Welch introduces one of his favourite walks, Dersingham Bog National Nature Reserve in Norfolk.

By Mark Welch for ACE Cultural Tours

Dersingham Bog NNR lies 15km north of King’s Lynn in West Norfolk and is part of the Sandringham Estate. It is managed on behalf of the estate by Natural England in collaboration with local volunteer groups. Habitats include heathland, deciduous and coniferous woodland, and mire, covering an area of 2 km2. The mire itself covers a third of the reserve by area and lies below a sandstone terrace, the so-called Wolferton sea cliff, which formed the coastline as recently as the 18th century. King’s Lynn and a string of small ports including Castle Rising, Dersingham and Ingoldisthorpe traded with Europe from medieval times.

Oblong-leaved (left) and round-leaved (right) sundews at Dersingham Bog © Mark Welch

Dersingham Bog is an example of a habitat that is rare in the UK, known technically as ‘lowland acid valley mire’, where peat (only a metre thick here) is developed over sandstone bedrock. Rare plants and animals that are largely restricted to this habitat type can be found at Dersingham Bog. These include black darter dragonfly, white-beaked sedge (pictured), oblong-leaved sundew and a selection of uncommon flies, bees and wasps. Over 20 pairs of nightjar breed on the reserve. Woodlark also breeds in small numbers at the woodland edge and its cascading song can be heard in spring and early summer.

White-beaked sedge at Dersingham Bog © Mark Welch

In June and July the mire is covered with swards of bright yellow bog asphodel and the surface is a beautiful mosaic of mosses, sundews and lichens (pictured). In August and September the heathland becomes a purple haze of Calluna heather (pictured) brimming with diverse insect pollinators.

The main track through the reserve can be accessed conveniently from three paths with small car parking spaces available. All main paths and tracks are easy going.

A visit to Dersingham Bog NNR will form part of ACE’s Norfolk in Summer tour, led by Mark Welch, in June 2021.