Back to reserve map

Carlton & Oulton Marshes

Carlton & Oulton Marshes is a lowland reserve in the Waveney Valley. It consists of meadows, wet grassland, reedbeds, marsh and woodland.

An astounding 15 kinds of dragonfly have been spotted here


Carlton & Oulton Marshes lies in the Waveney Valley at the southern tip of the Norfolk Broads and is part of the Suffolk Broads. It comprises a jigsaw of grazing marsh, fens, peat pools, short fen meadow, tall litter fen, dykes, pools and scrub. Mostly man-made, these habitats have developed over hundreds of years of traditional management and now host specialised wildlife.


This reserve is the Broads in miniature. Flower studded marshes drained by a system of dykes and grazed by cattle in summer, creates a paradise for marsh land birds and birds of prey including the hobby and marsh harrier. . In early summer there is a fabulous display of southern marsh orchid, marsh marigold and ragged-robin, together with the scarcer bogbean, bog pimpernel and marsh cinquefoil. Water vole may also be seen in and around the dykes along with special plants including the rare and protected water soldier.


In early summer wet fen meadows around Sprat’s Water are bursting with ragged-robin, & southern marsh orchid, lesser and greater spearwort and bogbean. Both Sprat’s and Round Water are the result of peat digging carried out long ago. The open water in both these pools is heaving with life including insectivorous bladderwort. This unusual plant lives off unsuspecting water fleas which it traps and digests in bladder-like sacs under water. These habitats are ideal for the rare fen raft spider which was successfully reintroduced to the reserve in 2012.

Carlton & Oulton Marshes one of the best places in the UK for a range of freshwater snails which reflects the good water quality in the dykes. The reserve is also one of the best sites in East Anglia to see grasshopper warblers. The reed and sedge beds along the river wall make ideal nesting cover for reed and sedge warblers, bearded tit, Cetti’s warbler and marsh harrier. The marshes are also ideal for w
intering wildfowl and breeding waders with large numbers of wigeon, teal and snipe.

Nearby nature reserves

Castle Marshes
2 miles - Suffolk Wildlife Trust
North Cove
3 miles - Suffolk Wildlife Trust
Gunton Meadow
3 miles - Suffolk Wildlife Trust

Nature reserve map

Reserve information

Burnt Hill Lane, Carlton Colville
NR33 8HU
Map reference
Great for...
a family day out
getting away from it all
spring flowers
stunning views
Best time to visit
Jan - Dec
Get directions
Find out here
Public transport
Plan your journey
Opening Times
Daily dawn to dusk
Picnic facilities
151.00 hectares

Wheelchairs and pushchairs can use a firm path around part of the marsh including easy access gates. Parts of this reserve are accessible by mobility scooter.
Walking information
Wheelchairs and pushchairs can use a firm path around part of the marsh including easy access gates. The education centre is open for events and education groups and is accessible to all and has a disabled toilet.
Free car park at end of Burnt Hill Lane in front of education centre. The car park is open 7 days a week from dawn until dusk
Dogs must be on lead
Grazing animals
Cattle graze areas
Reserve manager
Matt Gooch
Tel: 01502 564250