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Knettishall Heath

Breckland is one of the UK’s biodiversity hotspots and the designation of much of Knettishall Heath as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) reflects this.

Of the more than 12,500 species living in the Brecks, 30% are nationally rare.

Despite its name, Knettishall Heath is in fact a diverse mosaic of habitats with woodland and riverside meadows, as well as large areas of heath. It extends to over 430 acres. The open landscape created by our Bronze Age ancestors 4,000 years ago had changed very little until the 20th century when forestry and modern farming transformed large parts of The Brecks. Knettishall Heath still retains a sense of what this ancient landscape must have looked like in the past.

The 18th century rabbit warren and the Bronze Age burial mound at Hut Hill are evidence of thousands of years of human occupation, but at the western end of the heath, the ‘patterned ground’ is the product of a much earlier time. At the end of the last ice age, repeated freezing and thawing of the ground created a unique mixing of the sandy soil and the underlying chalk. The unusual vegetation stripes seen here reflect the two soil types and the different plants that grow in each.

Today, many rare species are still found at Knettishall Heath. Some such as the grey carpet moth are only found in Breckland, while for others such as maiden pink or flixweed, the Brecks is a national stronghold.


Read more about our vision for Knettishall Heath



Knettishall Heath benefited from a gift in the will of William & Mary McAtamney

along with with support from The Heritage Lottery Fund.

Nearby nature reserves

Market Weston Fen
2 miles - Suffolk Wildlife Trust
Hopton Fen
2 miles - Suffolk Wildlife Trust
Thelnetham Fen
4 miles - Suffolk Wildlife Trust

Nature reserve map

Reserve information

Knettishall Heath
IP22 2TQ
Map reference

GPS Info
At crossroads on road linking Rushford and Hopton head north and turn west in to main carpark.

Great for...
a family day out
historical interest
Best time to visit
Apr - Oct
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Opening Times
Reserve open 7 days a week. Toilets open from April to October. Ice cream van most days during school holidays and Spring/Summer weekends.
Picnic facilities
175.00 hectares
Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI)

Parts of this reserve are accessible by wheelchair and mobility scooter.
Walking information
There are four trails around the reserve between 1 and 2.5 miles in length including an all access trail around the river. Paths are generally good but can occasionally be muddy in winter. Permissive route for horse riders. Please keep dogs on a lead on the open heath during the bird nesting season (March 1st-July 31st) and under close control at all other times.
Main car park costs £1 per day, other car parks are free.
Dogs allowed
Grazing animals
Ponies and cattle graze areas of the reserve, please keep dogs under close control in these areas and do not approach the livestock
Reserve manager
Samantha Gay
Tel: 01379 688333


Factsheets and guides for your visit