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Introducing the Brecks

A place of strange beauty and hidden stories which go back to the Stone Age.

The Brecks spans an area of 393 sq. miles/1019 sq. kilometres across Norfolk and Suffolk, in the heart of The East of England.  As one of the driest parts of Britain the large skies are often blue. Thetford Forest and Kings Forest, collectively the largest lowland forest in the UK, have miles of tranquil trackways and paths to explore.

Ancient heathland once covered huge areas of the Brecks, created by the axes of prehistoric farmers and the nibbling teeth of sheep and rabbits.  ‘Brecks’ were temporary fields cultivated for a few years and then allowed to revert to heath one the soil became exhausted.  Sand storms were once a regular occurrence, such as the one which engulfed the village of Santon Downham in 1668.  Through many centuries the heaths, and the mysterious fluctuating Breckland lakes known as meres, became home to a distinctive range of plants and animals.

Over the last hundred years the ancient character of the Brecks has been changed forever.  The large-scale pine plantations of Thetford forest and the use of modern farming technology have transforms much of it into more productive land.  The remaining stretches, and the more open parts of the forest, are now vital areas for wildlife conservation.  The Brecks is an ideal area for quiet recreation, and the forests now welcome over 1.5 million visitors each year.

Click here for the Brecks National Character Area Profile – NCA 85. For other NCA profiles please click here.  These profiles explain how you can access environmental evidence and information about a specific NCAs.