When you climb to the top of Incleborough Hill you will get one of the finest 360 degree views in all Norfolk.
As well as being close to a range of wild flowers and small mammals, you may get lucky and see a soaring raptor, perhaps even a red kite.
The hill was formed when a glacier from Norway direction met one moving from the west. When they both melted all that was left was a pile of sand and gravel, washed out as the glaciers melted.
Incleborough is a good example of Norfolk lowland heathland, with poor sandy soil and a high component of acid grassland and gorse.
Over the centuries, heathlands were grazed by livestock, and sand and timber supplied local communities with building materials. Traditionally gorse was also gathered to fire bread ovens making use of its flammable properties. These practices helped create and maintain open areas of heathland rich in biodiversity. Since the decline of such activities, it has become increasingly important to manage heathlands and preserve this important habitat.
From the hill top you will have a wonderful, panoramic view taking in the coast, the North Sea with its wind turbines and, often, vessels. You will aslo be able to see swathes of North Norfolk. It must be one of the best views in Norfolk of the coast and the sea.
Birds you may spot
The hill is a great place to look for soaring birds of prey, including buzzards, honey buzzards, sparrowhawks and kestrels.
Birdlife found here include summer migrants – Blackcaps and Chiffchaffs, which nest in the scrub. Foxes and deer wander through.
Some other wild life you may spot
A diverse array of insects, including Green Tiger Beetles and reptiles such as Adders, Slow Worms and Common Lizards live on Incleboroug
Managing the land
The area is one of the Runton commons and was regularly grazed until the end of the 19th century. Like most of the other surrounding heaths the hill became overgrown.
Much of the time rabbits are present, but control of coarse plants needs larger animals. The Trust recently re-introduced grazing and from time to time in the past you may have seen horses or cattle on the hill. In the past you may have seen a herd of six Bagot billy goats on the hill.
If you are walking dogs please take care near any animals.
Grazing has produced many small areas that are suitable for ground nesting and feeding birds. These clearer areas give wild flowers space to grow and flourish.
A path round the western flank was introduced to improve access; the eastern flank was left to provide a greater area for wildlife alone.
Incleborough Hill is an example of a working conservation management project. Before the conservation work, paths over the hill had made deep cuts in the hillside and soil was washing away. Putting in steps slows down the erosion caused by walkers and heavy rain. The conservation work continues and is maintained by a team of volunteers and National Trust Rangers. The gates, fence and paths are kept in good order and occasional cutting of the gorse takes place.
In the past, the hill was covered in old gorse, which periodically caught fire, destroying wildlife and vegetation. There was little space for ground nesting birds. The only plant to benefit was the parasitic gorse dodder which still flourishes here. You will see (and smell) the strands of red dodder from July until the autumn. In the last few years, the area covered by gorse has been substantially reduced and breaks in the gorse have been cut to improve access and to reduce the risk of fires spreading across the heath.
As you wander around Incleborough, you may come across evidence of earthworks that were constructed during WWII. These include practice trenches, weapons pits and gun emplacements, all visible on aerial photographs. It is rumoured that there were underground tunnels and possibly a command post on the top of the hill as it provides a clear panoramic view of potential enemy activities.