Westleton Heath National Nature Reserve



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The Westleton Heath NNR is part of the best remaining tract of lowland heath in Suffolk. In medieval times a large area of heath known as the Sandlings (on account of its dry sandy soils) stretched along the Suffolk coast. Today only about 20 per cent of the heathland remains; the rest has been lost to modern farming and forestry. Birds of open heath and light scrub are well represented here and include tree pipit, Dartford warbler, stonechat and nightjar. The woodlands support nightingale and woodcock. The local flora is typical of acid soil, with species such as harebell, tormentil, heath bedstraw and mossy tiliea on the grassheath. Cross-leaved heath may also be found in the damper areas. Of the heather species, common heather and ling predominate, and these, together with deep purple bell heather, provide an important nectar source for invertebrates such as the white admiral butterfly.

Westleton Heath National Nature Reserve


About the area

Discover Suffolk

Suffolk is Constable country, where the county’s crumbling, time-ravaged coastline spreads itself under wide skies to convey a wonderful sense of remoteness and solitude. Highly evocative and atmospheric, this is where rivers wind lazily to the sea and notorious 18th-century smugglers hid from the excise men. John Constable immortalised these expansive flatlands in his paintings in the 18th century, and his artwork raises the region’s profile to this day.

Walking is one of Suffolk’s most popular recreational activities. It may be flat but the county has much to discover on foot – not least the isolated Heritage Coast, which can be accessed via the Suffolk Coast Path. Southwold, with its distinctive, white-walled lighthouse standing sentinel above the town and its colourful beach huts and attractive pier features on many a promotional brochure. Much of Suffolk’s coastal heathland is protected as a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and shelters several rare creatures including the adder, the heath butterfly and the nightjar. In addition to walking, there is a good choice of cycling routes but for something less demanding, visit some of Suffolk’s charming old towns, with streets of handsome, period buildings and picturesque, timber-framed houses.

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