The Brecks, one of the great natural areas of Great Britain, spans 370 square miles across Norfolk and Suffolk, and is one of the driest parts of Britain, a landscape of tranquil forest, open heathland and agricultural land that is home to many unique or distinctive birds, plants and animals.
‘Brecks’ were temporary fields cultivated for a few years, and then allowed to revert to heath once the soil became exhausted (the Brecks climate is semi-continental, and the area holds the finest examples of dry heather and grass heath in the country).
Measures were taken to protect the topsoil during the 19th Century, with farmers planting lines of Scots Pine trees as windbreaks to prevent sand and soil storms – a notable landscape feature in the Brecks today being the distinctive ‘pine lines’ of twisted and knotted pines that resulted from these pine hedges, which have grown wild.
Designated as one of the UK’s Natural Areas, much of the Brecks are designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest, holding over 65% of the UK population of Stone Curlews, almost 40% of the UK woodlark population, and 10% of UK breeding nightjars.
Steeped in history stretching back to the Stone Age, you can find a Neolithic Flint mine (the Brecks is the flint capital of the United Kingdom), and evidence of Medieval rabbit farming and 19th Century landed Estates can all be found in the landscape of the Brecks, amongst many more clues to human settlement throughout history.
After such a history of change to its landscape, the Brecks remains full of ecological and rich historical interest to this day.