Our exciting North Norfolk project has now been running for over two years - with an average of around 15 people attending each session we have already achieved great results on local sites. Task days are varied and interesting, including woodland, heathland and grassland management, and chances to explore local saltmarshes, farmland, and the Broads. Best of all, its all FREE!
How To Get Involved
Anyone over 16 can volunteer for our activities, which improve people’s physical, social and mental health, which will also develop, sustain and conserve the natural environment. You do NOT have to be fit to start with, and most of our volunteers have no experience of this type of work at all when they first join us. The sessions are suitable for people with physical, sensory or learning difficulties, mental health or long-term medical conditions.
We have a good mix of young and old, male and female, and people from a very wide range of backgrounds. There is no commitment required, you can just turn up whenever you want. No CRB or other checks are needed - just come along anytime and try it!
If you would like to know more about the project or are interested in joining a session, call us on 01263 516 336 or e-mail:email@example.com
As well as these sites which we manage regularly, we also visit a wide variety of other beautiful places, for example:
• doing a seaweed survey for the Natural History Museum at West Runton
• birdwatching at Blakeney
• estimating the age of ancient trees at Mannington
• gathering seeds at Pretty Corner in Sheringham
• identifying trees at Barton Broad, Neatishead
• dragonfly spotting at Baconsthorpe
• restoring heathland at Salthouse
• seal watching at Sea Palling
• cutting back vegetation on Fakenham Marsh
• wildlife gardening in Walsingham
The North Norfolk Workout Project is delivered by BTCV for North Norfolk District Council with additional funding and support from Natural England through Access to Nature as part of the Big Lottery Fund’s Changing Spaces Programme, NHS Norfolk and North Norfolk Community Partnership.
Bluebells, Lords and Ladies, Tadpoles and Twayblades!
The North Norfolk Workout Project enjoyed a stunning spring afternoon with plant expert Dr.Tony Leech at Spout Hills in Holt, discovering over forty plant species, as well as tadpoles, water boatmen, mayfly larvae, and both Brimstone and Orangetip butterflies.
We learnt to tell the difference between our delicate, native bluebells and the more robust Spanish bluebells; how to tell redcurrents and blackcurrents apart by scent alone; what sheep’s sorrel tastes like; and the fascinating and complex life of Lords and Ladies (a native woodland plant)!
Amongst many highlights, we found a swathe of the orchid-like twayblades in the woods, the jelly fungus Witches Butter in an oak tree, and a carpet of purple ground ivy on the old cricket pitch. All thanks to Tony!
Off with their heads!
You may have noticed recently that Beeston Bump in Sheringham is looking as if it’s had a ‘short back and sides’ – thanks to the determination of the Workout Project, who have made a real impact on a just a couple of visits this spring.
Beeston Bump is a geological SSSI, and along with the shallow glacial valley to the south, contains over 580 flowering plants, including some nationally scarce species. The site therefore needs to be regularly cleared of the tall, invasive plant Alexanders - if left unchecked it would completely take over, shading out the smaller plants below. This is best done by chopping off the flowerheads before they set seed in late spring – step forward our ‘hairdressing’ volunteers!
New Orchard for Horning
In late February, we teamed up with The Trees for Horning group at Horning village common to plant a mixture of fruit and cherry trees. The process involved removing the top layer of turf from marked squares before digging holes deep enough for the roots to spread. Between us, we planted thirty-one trees. The common sees plenty of use as a local playing field so it was necessary to erect wooden frames to protect the trees from stray footballs. Knocking in the posts was hard work but using this super sized mallet made the job easier. It was a great day out for everyone involved on what was one of the warmest days of the year so far.
Workout Project Celebrates in Style!
The North Norfolk Workout Project celebrated its second birthday in September, with an afternoon of fun and games. Our guests included North Norfolk District Council Leader Cllr Helen Eales, and BTCV Regional Director Kate Mackenzie, both seen here cutting the birthday cake with long-serving volunteer Robin Sidle.
Volunteers were treated to a delicious al fresco buffet, as well as enjoying a poetry reading, a wildlife film show, and a chance to create a shoal of reed fish with environmental artist, Dr Tim Willey.
It was a chance to celebrate both our group and our individual achievements, with certificates of tasks completed awarded to many volunteers – some having been with project for over a hundred Workout Project tasks! Well done all!
In October it was time to get down to work at Knapton Millennium Green, clearing the pond of invasive reed mace. It is an aquatic perennial found on the edges of ponds and streams where its tenacious rhizomes can quickly overwhelm the more delicate waterside species.
As a single inflorescence of reed mace can produce many thousands of wind dispersed seeds, it was vital for this site that we remove as much as possible before the new growth begins in spring.
Workout Project on the Airwaves
The Workout Project were joined by Radio Norfolk’s Morning Show presenter Nick Conrad for an afternoon of meadow clearance and alder removal at Pigneys Wood.
It was all part of BBC Radio Norfolk’s campaign to encourage more volunteering in our region, giving listeners a chance to hear from volunteers themselves about the many advantages of giving up their time to help their local community. Everyone agreed that the Workout Project is a great example of the joys of volunteering, with participants benefiting from improved health, gaining new friends - and a real sense of satisfaction with every task accomplished.
Ragwort removal at Holkham
During the spring and summer months the North Norfolk Workout Project has been busy helping remove native and non- native invasive species from our local nature reserves. Here our volunteers are removing Ragwort at Holkham National Nature Reserve. Although a native plant, it is poisonous if eaten by horses, so has to be pulled out by hand. We have also removed lots of Himalayan Balsam from local riverbanks as this non-native species prevents the growth of our native flora. A hot but satisfying job!
Wiveton Downs on the Up
Wiveton Downs is newly cleared of gorse and brambles thanks to the North Norfolk Workout Project. This Site of Special Scientific Interest was becoming overgrown with scrub, and it was down to us to get stuck in - helping to free the site’s fascinating geological features from disappearing.
Wiveton Downs is one of England’s best developed eskers (sites formed by glacial deposits) and is well known for its interesting variety of plant and animal species, which the Workout Project had a chance to study alongside OPAL experts on a brilliant bug hunt during the summer.
Churchyard wildflower surveys
In June we took part in a fascinating wildflower survey in Gresham village and surrounding church grounds led by local churchyard flora expert Bob Leeny. Our volunteers learnt how to look for and identify the 6 key indicator species associated with ancient grasslands which include cowslip (Primula veris), lady’s bedstraw (Galium verum), meadow saxifrage (Saxifraga granulate), and burnet-saxifrage (Pimpinella saxifrage), pignut (Conopodium majus) and oxeye daisy (Leucanthenum vulgare)
Now its just a case of remembering what they all look like!
White suits and carpentry
Being very aware of the decline in bee numbers recently, and how vital they are to pollinating flowers, we have started working with the "Bees of God's Acre" project. The project is helping to support the increasing number of new bee keepers by setting up community Apiaries in churchyards where they can learn from an experienced beekeeper.
For some of us, this has meant getting dressed up in full protective clothing in order to work around the hives themselves - not for the faint-hearted perhaps as you are surrounded by thousands of bees!
For others, it has meant working in the shed, manufacturing nucleus boxes and other equipment needed to increase the number of bee colonies so that hives can be given to more Parishes.
North Norfolk Workout Project wins award for Biodiversity!
The North Norfolk Workout Project has won an award from the Norfolk Biodiversity Partnership. Held in the Assembly Rooms in Norwich, the night was a celebration of various individuals and groups who are making significant improvements to the Biodiversity in Norfolk.
It was also a good opportunity to look rather glamorous for the evening – a change from our usual attire!
The North Norfolk Workout Project was “Highly Commended” in the Local Group category for: “Its conservation work on a wide variety of Biodiversity Action Plan habitats and its contributions to the improvement of local community well-being.”
... and another award!
This time from the Eastern Daily Press "Norfolk People Of The Year" awards ceremony in Norwich, where we were one of the top three nominees in the Love Norfolk Award 2010.
Pictured here are volunteers Carol and John with Carol Bundock from BBC Look East, who was presenting the awards.
Congratulations and thanks to all the volunteers who have put in such hard work since the project started.
Prehistoric Site Saved
Salthouse Heath was an area of great importance from the Neolithic period onwards, with nine large (and numerous smaller) burial mounds forming part of a wider sacred landscape, and thanks to the North Norfolk Workout Project, this ancient site can once again see the light of day!
The decline of traditional practices, such as heather harvesting and grazing, had led to large parts of the heath becoming overgrown in recent years. Now it is due to modern muscle power of our volunteers, that two of these Bronze Age barrows have been rescued from the encroaching gorse and brambles.
The stumps will be treated – and the barrows sown with grass – to ensure that this fascinating site remains clear for many years to come.
The Big Green Weekend
The volunteers of the Workout Project were very proud to be part of BTCV’s nationwide Big Green Weekend in October, promoting our work and achievements.
Our event was held at Holt Country Park where we carried out one of our usual environmental tasks, alongside encouraging new volunteers on our stall, and getting ahead for spring with bird box making.
Birdbox making in Aylsham
We attended a recent event focused on people with learning difficulties at the Jubilee Centre in Aylsham and had great fun planting trees and bulbs, as well as making bird boxes.
Participants included service users of Sprowston Day Services and the Opening Doors group - everyone enjoyed the chance to get stuck in with saws and hammers to create a home for some feathered friends which they could take home with them.
Seal Watching at Morston and Horsey
We had a fabulous time taking the boat from Morston Quay out to Blakeney Point recently, enabling us to see Grey and Common Seals at really close quarters. They are obviously used to people visiting them, as they were not at all disturbed as we went quite close to the shore. Some of them were swimming right next to the boat, but kept bobbing under the water as soon as I tried to get a photo - so here is a picture taken by our volunteer Patrick when we went to the seal viewing platform at Horsey last year!
We also saw maritime birds including redshank, cormorants and shelduck.
Is there nightlife in North Norfolk?
This autumn we organised 4 bat walks across North Norfolk, sampling the nightlife of Holt Country Park, Pigneys Wood in Knapton, Southrepps Common Local Nature Reserve, and Links Wood in Cromer.
We had an expert with us each time to show us how to us the bat detectors, and were rewarded by seeing and "hearing" bats each time. We were very happy to have a mixture of young and old, as well as tourists and locals, at these events. Thanks to Rob Coleman of I-spot, and Sam Phillips, for ththeir entertaining and educational presentations.
New Multistorey 'Hotel' built in Knapton
One of last year's "Community Challenge" events saw villagers from Knapton join up with Year 6 pupils from Mundesley Junior school to build a 9 storey hotel on the Millenium Green - for insects! The minibeast hotel was built from pallets stuffed with a wide variety of materials that would otherwise have been wasted - notably lots of branches from bushes on the site which were being pruned back as part of the project.
The site had become so overgrown that most of the paths had become impassable, so cutting them back was vital to allow people to explore the lovely garden that was created to mark the Year 2000. A new entrance to the site has also been created, making this hidden community asset much more obvious to passers-by.
Children got stuck into opening up the paths alongside the rest of the volunteers, but they also had the chance to discover what creatures were already living on the site by shaking branches of the bushes to see what fell into their collecting trays. The minibeasts were then photographed to be identified later.
OPAL wildlife surveys
We have been digging for worms, staring at tree trunks and messing about in ponds - why? Because they are all surveys for the Natural History Museum's Open Air Laboratory Network (OPAL), that's why. Who said science can't be fun! You can find out more about the surveys, and see our results too, by clicking here Interestingly, one of the other contributors to the survey is 'Belinda Carlisle'! Surely not the 80s popstar herself? Heaven really is a place on earth it seems...
Thousands of trees planted
Our volunteers made a huge effort over the winters of 2009-10 and 2010-11 to plant over 1,000 each native trees each winter at Holt Country Park, Sadlers Wood in North Walsham , and Links Wood in Cromer. Last winter we were fortunate enough to obtain a really lovely variety of trees free from Tree Appeal, including
English Oak, Crab Apple, Guelder Rose, Hawthorn, Hazel, Spindle Bush and Cherry.
This winter we have more trees to plant, and - as part of DEFRA's Big Tree Plan - there will be more to come in future years. If you know of some land where we could plant more trees to benefit local people, please contact us.
We have even made a short film about planting Black Poplars (our rarest native timber tree) which was shown as part of the 2009 Crab and Lobster festival in Cromer and Sheringham.
For more about the "2 minutes of your time" film project, see their website
If you missed us at the festival, you can watch it on YouTube:
There are a lot more stories about our varied and interesting projects...