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North Norfolk beauty spot has spring in its step after winter makeover

PUBLISHED: 06:30 09 February 2017 | UPDATED: 18:46 13 February 2017

Kelling Heath countryside manager David Martin with one of the park's resident red squirrels. Picture: KAREN BETHELL

Kelling Heath countryside manager David Martin with one of the park's resident red squirrels. Picture: KAREN BETHELL

Archant

A four-strong team of countryside rangers at Kelling Heath Holiday Park have been hard at work over the winter, maintaining and improving heathland at the popular tourist destination ready for it to reopen for the 2017 season.

Michael Timewell, who is director of Kelling Heath owners Blue Sky Leisure. Picture: KAREN BETHELLMichael Timewell, who is director of Kelling Heath owners Blue Sky Leisure. Picture: KAREN BETHELL

Built on the ethos of sustainable tourism, Kelling Heath Holiday Park has ponds, a wetland, woodlands and heathland and, with its spectacular views across the coastline and countryside, is a popular haunt for walkers, cyclists and wildlife enthusiasts from all over the country

Bought by the Timewell family in 1984, the park has won a string of accolades, including being crowned holiday park of the year in the 2015 EDP Tourism Awards and being named one of Europe’s top campsites in an awards scheme run by travel guide publishers Alan Rogers.

It is home to wildlife ranging from nightjars, adders and red deer, to bats, beetles and newts, also running a red squirrel breeding programme and bee and rare butterfly conservation schemes.

VIP visitors have included TV wildlife legends Bill Oddie and David Bellamy, with the park also featured on shows including the BBC2 programme Stargazing.

Black Welsh Mountain sheep at Kelling Heath. Picture: KAREN BETHELLBlack Welsh Mountain sheep at Kelling Heath. Picture: KAREN BETHELL

Michael Timewell, who is director of Kelling Heath Holiday Park owners Blue Sky Leisure, which also owns Woodhill Park, at East Runton, said the park had undergone extensive work over the winter, with the park’s countryside manager David Martin introducing a small flock of Black Welsh Mountain sheep, cutting back vegetation and working to restore native heathers.

“The work undertaken by the countryside rangers is vital in helping to protect and preserve what is very rare heathland habitat, Mr Timewell said, adding: “It is a magical place which acts as an interface between the countryside and the urban community.”

Mr Martin and his fellow countryside rangers have also been working in partnership with the Trustees of Kelling Heath over the winter to help manage areas of heathland on the neighbouring Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI).

Mr Martin, who joined the park as a student at Easton College in 2000 before going on to gain a degree in environmental studies, said he had developed a “deep bond” with Kelling Heath.

Kelling Heath bug hotel. Picture: KAREN BETHELLKelling Heath bug hotel. Picture: KAREN BETHELL

“What is fantastic is that every day here is different,” he explained. “And seeing all the wildlife, knowing we are making a difference and helping enhance and preserve that is wonderful.”

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