Brancaster Staithe wildlife walk, Norfolk
Wander through Brancaster Staithe and enjoy the beautiful sights of the coast and its wildlife. Visit the Downs, and take in the excellent views from Barrow Common and get the chance to see the site of Branodunum Roman Fort.
Harbour Way at Brancaster is subject to tidal flooding. Please do not leave your car on the hard-standing as it may be flooded.
Harbour Way, Brancaster Staithe. PE31 8BW grid ref: TF791443 This area is subject to tidal flooding. Please do not leave your car on the hard-standing as it may be flooded.
From Brancaster Staithe Quay car park, turn right onto the coastal path, and head towards the harbour. Once at the harbour there are information signs giving details of its history, as well as current fishing information. A little way along the coastal path, a path heads inland to the White Horse pub situated on the coast road.
Brancaster Staithe Harbour
The harbour has had a colourful history, with changing fishing practices and a large malthouse, which has since been demolished..
Turn off the coastal path and head inland on the A149, signposted Deepdale Café. Pass the café, turning left into Delgate Lane and follow it towards Downs woods.
Follow the road around to the right. You'll see large beech trees growing on the corner. A little further on you come to a crossroads, from here take the footpath around the edge of Barrow Common. You may like to take a slight detour to explore the common, which also makes a nice spot for a picnic. On the common the unusual sight of hundreds of snails can be seen in tree cracks.
Samphire and suaeda
In summer, samphire can be seen growing in the tidal areas near Brancaster Quay. There are also rare suaeda bushes (shrubby sea blight) which grow here and this is the most northerly point where you'll find them.
From the northern edge of Barrow Common, there's a great view over Brancaster and out to sea. Look out for the Second World War wreck of SS Vina, on the end of Scolt Head Island; a coastal steamer that was used for target practice by the RAF, and accidentally sank in 1944. Follow the path to the left and then right, back down to the coast road.
Barrow Common is a great vantage point, looking across to Brancaster and out to sea. In winter, skeins of geese can often be viewed from here. In the woods near Barrow Common (The Downs), fallow deer can sometimes be seen.
Take care crossing the main road. You're now at the site of Branodunum Roman Fort where a sign gives information on its history. Having gone around the fort, the path heads off left, through two gates, towards the sea.
The fort was built around 230AD to guard the Wash approaches, and later became part of the Saxon Shore fortification system. TV's Time Team spent three days here in 2012 and claimed their visit revealed more about the site than ever before.
You are now back on the coastal path. Turn right and follow it until you arrive back at Brancaster Staithe Quay car park.
In winter, thousands of pink-footed and Brent geese fill the skies as they come in to roost in the evenings, often flying over Brancaster to feed on sugar beet tops in fields. Look and listen out for redshanks and oystercatchers and several species of wading birds that can be seen in the tidal areas. Sometimes, sandwich terns can be seen flying with sand eels or white bait in their beaks, to feed their young on nearby Scolt Head Island National Nature Reserve.
Harbour Way, Brancaster Staithe. PE31 8BW grid ref: TF791443
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