Scarning Water Meadows

Scarning Water Meadows is one of Scarning’s recreational areas. Apart from the children’s play area and the adult exercise equipment mentioned elsewhere on the website, this is also a great place to just take a stroll or walk your dog. This lovely area is maintained by Scarning Parish Council and conservation volunteers. If you would like to help preserve these beautiful water meadows, please consider offering your services – it is not very time consuming or hard work but is very satisfying and sociable.

What to look for: During a Norfolk Wildlife Trust survey, over 300 different species of flora and fauna were found! Amongst the many wildflowers, you should be able to find Great Willowherb, water mint, Marsh Woundwort, Greater birdsfoot trefoil, Water chickweed and Spear plume thistle, along with many others.

Directions: Scarning Water Meadows is to the west of Dereham and just inside the Scarning Parish Boundary. There are three footpaths leading to the Meadows from Scarning, leading from Ted Ellis Way, Blackthorn Drive and Gorse Close. There are also two footpaths from Dereham, via Washbridge and Vicarage Meadows.

Did you know? Adjacent to the Meadows is Vicarage Park which was first laid out in 1678 and covered eight acres but by 1815 it had expanded several times and covered over a hundred acres. Seventy acres were planted as parkland with walks to the church and to the southwest. Tree belts were added in 1838 and the watercourse was straightened in 1844. Beech hedges were planted within a moated site in the park by 1889. Part of the area is now built over, part a public open space and part private gardens.

Scarning Fen

This unique small nature reserve is Site of Special Scientific Interest, maintained by Norfolk Wildlife Trust. Despite its small size, Scarning Fen is home to a number of rare species including liverworts, mosses and several plants. It is an excellent habitat for invertebrates with 29 nationally scarce species recorded, including the small red damselfly. The site is very sensitive, so please tread carefully.

What to look for: Small Red Damselfly In the UK this species is locally common in south-western counties but very rare elsewhere; Scarning is its only site in Norfolk and holds a small, easily disturbed population. Males are a uniform scarlet, lacking any stripes on their bodies; females are darker. These weak-flying insects are on the wing from June to the start of September.
Spring/summer bog pimpernel, butterwort, marsh orchid, marsh helleborine, quaking grass, marsh pennywort, black bog-rush.
Autumn/winter mosses and liverworts.

Directions: Scarning Fen is just outside Dereham. From Norwich, travel towards Swaffham on the A47. Pass Draytonhall Lane on the right and take the immediate left turn. Turn left again onto Fen Road and follow the road around to the nature reserve. Parking is on the roadside. The entrance is over a stile next to the road.

Did you know? Local people grazed horses here until the 1960s, which helped maintain the flora by pushing seeds into the damp soil. Cattle have grazed the area in more recent years to achieve the same result.

Norfolk Wildlife Trust

There is a Mid Norfolk Local Group for the NWT. Please either contact the Secretary, Jacquie Fenn 01362 697783 or visit

Take Part in a Wildlife Spotter Survey You can help Norfolk’s wildlife by taking part in a wildlife survey.
Why? The surveys are fun and simple to take part in and offer the chance to use your local observations to help build up vital information for the future conservation of Norfolk’s wildlife.
Who? Anyone – you don’t have to be an expert!
How? Click here to read more.

NWT Hoe Rough

Site of Special Scientific Interest

Meander through heathland and meadows to the edge of the River Whitewater. See the giant anthills, the crab apple trees and the heather.

What to look for: Spring/summer green-winged orchid, yellow rattle, cuckoo flower, bogbean, heather, common milkwort, bird’s foot trefoil, meadow saxifrage. Broad-bodied chaser dragonfly, orange-tip butterfly. Adder.

Facilities: Information board and way-marked trail.

Directions: NWT Hoe Rough lies 4km north of Dereham close to Gressenhall farm and workhouse. Take the B1110 Dereham to Guist road and turn left after 3km onto the B1146 Fakenham road. The nature reserve is 1km ahead on the right, before crossing the river.
Public Transport The Dereham to Fakenham bus stops near the nature reserve

Access: Entrance is from the small roadside car park. Caution – vehicles travel at speed and visibility is poor on this stretch of road.

Did you know?: The large anthills on the Rough indicate that this is an ancient meadow that has been grazed and left undisturbed by the plough.

NWT Lolly Moor

This tiny nature reserve is remarkable for the diversity of habitat and a variety of flora contained in such a small area.

What to look for: Spring/summer lesser celandine, primrose, fragrant orchid, southern marsh orchid, marsh helleborine, twayblade.

Facilities: Information board and way-marked trail.

Directions: NWT Lolly Moor is 2km south of Dereham. Leave Dereham on the Toftwood to Westfield road and travel for 2km. The nature reserve is well hidden! Park on the left just before passing under the electricity pylon.

Access: Entrance is from the roadside via a path through scrub and over a stile. Caution – there is very limited parking available on the roadside verge.

Did you know?: The site is leased to NWT from the Westfield Fuel Allotment Charity. In the past, it was split into allotments allowing trustees to allocate grazing and fuel for the benefit of the poor of the parish.

NWT Honeypot Wood

Site of Special Scientific Interest

The small size and colourful plant life of NWT Honeypot Wood make for a fascinating walk. During WW2 this area was used for storing munitions for the adjacent Wendling airfield. There are overgrown concrete paths and abandoned structures.

What to look for: Spring/summer – dog’s mercury, wood anemone, twayblade, herb Paris, bluebell, hairy St John’s wort. Autumn/winter – oak, ash, field maple, hazel.

Facilities: Information board.

Directions: NWT Honeypot Wood is located 6km west of Dereham. Leave the A47 at Wendling and Scarning and take the first left by the chapel. The road follows round to cross back over the A47 before reaching the wood, 1.5km on the left.

Access: Entrance from the roadside. Take care of parking on the road.

Did you know?: NWT Honeypot Wood is a wild wood remnant dating back to the retreat of the last ice age. The name derives from its proximity to a medieval sewage dump, or ‘honey’ pit.

Wild plant charity

Wild plant charity Plantlife are hoping to reach out to many wild plant enthusiasts and nature lovers by inviting them to become wild plant ‘pioneers’ and subscribe to a free quarterly e-learning bulletin to learn more about our native wild plants via the ‘Wild About Plants‘ project website.

The Wild About Plants project aims to help people reconnect with the outdoors and their local green spaces. Working with schools, families and communities from all walks of life and with fantastic free downloadable resources, the team hope to engage people with the nature on their doorstep. In recent years subscribers have been asked to record the plant life in their local area and recount what they used to see/pick and forage for. Wild About Plants is funded by Natural England through Access to Nature, as part of the Big Lottery Fund’s Changing Spaces programme. It is a partnership project involving partner organisations throughout the country.

Dereham Rush Meadow

Site of Special Scientific Interest

English Nature and Anglian Water are working together on a five year project to restore a nationally important meadow adjacent to the Dereham Sewage Treatment Works on Rushmeadow Road, Scarning, which is jointly owned by Anglian Water and Dereham Relief in Need Charity.

What to look for: Many special wet meadow plants can be found such as marsh orchid, marsh fern and bogbean and birds such as snipe and sedge warbler.

Directions: Rush Readow is just outside Dereham just over the Scarning Parish Boundary. The road leading to the Works is a few metres from the junction of New Inn Lane and Rushmeadow Road.

Access: Entrance is via a footpath alongside the stream to the left of the main gates to the Treatment Works.

Did you know?: This area was important to the people of the parish in the 1830s for “cutting fuel for firing and for depasturing cattle or geese.”

You can find out about the current programme of work and other information at NatureOnTheMap.Org.UK