North Norfolk Coast & the Wash IPA

Location: The Wash, north coast of Norfolk and south east of Lincolnshire.

Grid Reference: TF 626 283

North Norfolk and the Wash (c)- Mike Hudson [CC BY-SA 3.0 (httpcreativecommons.orglicensesby-sa3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons.jpg

North Norfolk Coast & the Wash IPA has been recognised as one of 165 Important Plant Areas in the UK.

The key features of this IPA are:

  • The species richness of vascular plants in Littoral sediments and Coastal Shingle habitat

  • The Wash and North Norfolk Coast is one of the most diverse coastal systems in Britain. The Wash, a shallow bay that rims West Norfolk and opens into the North Sea, is about 20kms wide and 30kms long, making it the largest estuary system in the UK. There is great diversity of habitat including muddy tidal creeks, rolling sand dunes, saltmarshes, saline lagoons, shingle banks and mudflats (the second largest area of intertidal mudflats in Britain). Further east lies the spectacular North Norfolk coast, most of which is designated as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Here is a landscape of tidal marshes, creeks, sweeping golden sands backed by pinewoods, reedbeds and, shingle ridge beaches with, at Blakeney, a 4-mile shingle and sand spit - Blakeney Point, a nature reserve. The IPA has been identified for the vascular plant species richness of coastal habitats.

    Plants you could see

    The saltmarshes hold four species of sea-lavender (including matted sea-lavender, a species now confined to Norfolk within the British Isles). You might find marsh mallow, shrubby sea-blite, sea purslane, salt meadow sedge, sharp sea rush or sea aster. There are also several species of glasswort (salicornia) also known as ‘samphire’ and collected for the kitchen. The dunes and shingle spits hold sea-holly, sea-heath, hoary mullein, the bright sea-pea and yellow-horned poppy, as well as bee and pyramidal orchids, and in a few places, the dune slacks are home to marsh helleborines and southern marsh orchids.

    Springtime: coltsfoot, cuckooflower, dog's mercury, early forget-me-not

    Summer: marsh mallow, sea holly, sea lavender, yellow-horned poppy, southern marsh orchid.

    Autumn and winter: gorse, red or white dead-nettle, ivy

    Image: North Norfolk Coast & the Wash © Mike Hudson under CC BY-SA 3.0