Hidden Broads gem revealed

It is one of the hidden treasures of the Broads, a haven for wildlife and rare orchids, and provides a rare glimpse into the beauty and tranquility of nature.

It is one of the hidden treasures of the Broads, a haven for wildlife and rare orchids, and provides a rare glimpse into the beauty and tranquility of nature.

So perhaps it is a good thing that many locals do not know that Barnby Broad, which is less than half a mile off the busy A146 Norwich to Lowestoft road, exists.

But a few who had heard about its charms donned their boots and waterproofs yesterday for a once-in-a-lifetime chance to visit Waveney's secret broad.

The site belongs to a private landowner and has always been closed to the public so it can be used as a shooting estate in the winter, but 20 visitors joined a guided tour around the marsh and broad yesterday.

Colin Hart, the Broads Authority's countryside ranger for Waveney, led the tour and said that Barnby Broad was one of the best kept secrets in all of Suffolk.

He said: “We have a lot of rare species of animals and plants here, from marsh and spotted orchids to white admiral butterflies and the tiny pink bog pimpernel flowers, which only grow at one other site in the whole county. The fact that this is a hidden area, with no people trampling on it and making noise, makes it an even more special habitat.”

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And it is hardly surprising that this hidden gem is protected as a site of special scientific interest.

The isolated area is home to many animal and plant species which are native to the Broads, including four species of deer, osprey, water voles and otters.

The orchids which grow on the marshes are only found in a few boggy areas in East Anglia and can only grow successfully in ground which is low in nutrients, like the heavy broadland clay.

Tony West, who has been a warden on Barnby Broad for more than 50 years, said: “There aren't many places left which are as peaceful as this.”

The Broads network was formed by medieval peat diggers, but Barnby Broad has been used more recently for commercial gain. Two shallow trenches, called decoys, run off the main body of water and they were used to catch ducks.

As with all mysterious locations, Barnby Broad has its own set of myths and tales, including that a Doodlebug plane crashed into the water during the second world war, killing all the fish.

The Broads Authority is hosting similar events throughout the summer. For details and booking information, visit www.broads-authority.gov.uk or pick up a copy of their Broadcaster magazine.

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