Breydon Water is a large tidal estuary at Great Yarmouth, Norfolk, England, within The Broads National Park, the UK's largest protected wetland. It is 5 km long and more than 1.5 km wide in places.
Overlooked at the southern end by the Roman fort of Gariannonum, it is the confluence of the Rivers Bure, Yare and Waveney. At Breydon Bridge on the east side of Breydon Water, a channel leads to the North Sea at Gorleston, south of Great Yarmouth. Centuries ago, Breydon Water would have been one large estuary facing the sea.
Safe passage for Broads craft is indicated by red and green marker posts. Unlike most of the navigable waterways in the Broads, Breydon Water is not subject to a speed limit.
At low tide, one can see vast areas of mudflats and saltings, all teeming with birds. Since the mid-80s, Breydon Water has been a nature reserve in the care of the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB). It has been a popular shooting area for centuries, and the shooting continues, but on a very much reduced scale.
In terms of nature conservation, Breydon Water is one of the most important estuaries on the east coast of England between The Wash and the Thames estuary. It has specially protected status by virtue of being a European Union Special Protection Area (SPA).
In the winter, large numbers of wading birds and wildfowl use it to overwinter, including 12,000 Golden Plovers, 12,000 Wigeons, 32,000 Lapwings and tens of thousands of Bewick's Swans. Other species that have been noted there include Dunlin, Sanderling, Whimbrel, several (escaped) Flamingos, Avocets and on one occasion a Glossy Ibis.
There is a bird observation hide at the east end of Breydon Water, on the north shore, looking out towards a breeding platform used mainly by common terns. Other breeding species include shelduck, shovellers, oystercatchers and Yellow Wagtails.
The naturalist Arthur Henry Patterson A.L.S. (1857–1935), who published under the pseudonym 'John Knowlittle', extensively documented the wildlife of Breydon and the disappearing lifestyles of those boatmen, wildfowlers and fishermen who made a living from the estuary. Extracts of his numerous works are available in 'Scribblings of a Yarmouth Naturalist' by Beryl Tooley, his great-granddaughter (ISBN 0-9549048-0-X published 2004.)
Full article ▸