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BFER November Newsletter 2022

  View this email in your browser Download as a PDF BFER NEWSLETTER November 2022 Welcome to the BFER newsletter Welcome to the November Newsletter. Over the past month the Brecks has been turning a wide range of wonderful autumnal colours, and now is one of the best times to get out and enjoy this […]


November 2022

Welcome to the BFER newsletter

Welcome to the November Newsletter.

Over the past month the Brecks has been turning a wide range of wonderful autumnal colours, and now is one of the best times to get out and enjoy this beautiful landscape.

As many birds start their annual migrations, early mornings mists can be seen rising over the rivers and water meadows, and the woodlands take on the evocative smells of autumn leaves and fungi. Once again the BFER team and partners have been busy providing a variety of opportunities to get out and about, take part in fun events, and learn new skills. Several which are highlighted in this month’s newsletter. More info on all the projects can be found here:

BFER Scheme Manager

Project Focus

2.3 – Industrious Rivers

The launch of the Industrious Rivers project (a project exploring the history of trade and development along the waterways of the Brecks – principally the rivers Gadder, Lark, Little Ouse, Thet and Wissey), took place on 17 October 2022 at The Engine House in Brandon Country Park.

A fully booked event (within days of it being advertised), it was a day with a full house of attendees who were keen to help uncover and document the history of the development of the commercial and industrial use of the Breckland waterways.

An introduction on the history of rivers landscapes in the Brecks was provided from Professor Tom Williamson of UEA, a world renowned expert on landscape history and archaeology who explained that today, rivers are used mainly for leisure and recreation, but for most of human history they were essential for trade and commerce. Mills, docks, wharves and towpaths all speak of a time when transportation by river was the most efficient way of heavy haulage – bringing commodities such as food, coal and building supplies to inland communities, and contributing to the prosperity of inland ports such as Stoke Ferry and Brandon. Conversely, some Breckland products – notably flint and rabbit skins – had to be transported to larger conurbations. Our Breckland rivers were a vital lifeline for this landlocked part of England.

There was a further illustrated overview and walk along the Little River Ouse, looking for archaeological clues presented by Eliott Wragg, a leading archaeologist who has spent years working on the Thames Discovery Programme.

The project is offering a range of exciting opportunities to learn more about the history of the area, and to acquire new skills and insights into a lesser known aspect of local heritage and training sessions will help volunteers to understand the characteristics and significance of the Breckland rivers and to carry out their own research. It will look at the rivers in the historical record, the vital role they played in the daily lives of local people, historic manmade features such as locks, staunches and mills, and how to recognise and record their remains.

The project will culminate in an exhibition at Thetford’s Ancient House Museum in 2023-4, co-curated with a Young Curators group, an illustrated report on the project and its discoveries, and an online archive.

Want to get involved?
Further workshops will be on the history of river landscapes, as well as training some volunteers in practical conservation techniques. If maps are more your thing, we need volunteers to research and examine current and historic maps to identify features that were once used for trade and industry. Where possible, you will be invited to walk sections of the rivers (with the landowner’s permission) to identify and record relevant features, which will then be digitally mapped. Further details available on Eventbrite or our website.

2.5 – Digital Interpretation: Heritage Hotspots

We had a very successful first workshop at West Stow on Friday 28th October. There was real enthusiasm for the project and partners were excited about the hotspots and all the possibilities.

Partners were issued with their InfoPoints and briefed on how to upload their content to their hotspot websites. There was also the opportunity to get to know each other, explore the site at West Stow and see the first hotspot be installed!

Partners will now spend their time until the next workshop on the 2nd of December uploading their content for a show and tell.

3.2 – Fen Edge & Rivers Archaeology
Last month saw the second year of our geophysics training, where volunteers were trained on how to use the equipment and survey sites across Suffolk Wildlife Trust Lackford Lakes. This year was also the first of our fieldwalking training sessions which happened across 2 days with over 30 people attending. The day after involved a few more volunteers washing and identifying some of the objects found from the fieldwalking.

If you are interested in taking part next year for our archaeology volunteer training sessions then please email:

4.4 – Healing Waters

In October, BFER and Suffolk County Council’s Rights of Way and Access Team launched a brand-new running and walking route in Suffolk. The route, which follows footpaths and byways between Honington and Troston, was developed through the Public Rights of Way act.

To launch the route, BFER collaborated with Run Breckland to host a new run event, the ‘Jackdaw 7.5K Run’, which was launched by the Duke of Grafton. 27 runners of all ages took part, supported by 18 volunteers.

Follow Run Breckland on Facebook (@BrecklandForestRuns) to find out about their upcoming events in the Brecks, including the ‘Thetford 5K Santa Run’ (Sunday 4 December 2022) and the Euston Estate Marathon and Half Marathon (Sunday 30 April 2023)

4.5 – Volunteer Hub & Engagement

Throughout October, a range of BFER activities and events took place across the Brecks.
BFER was pleased to take part in Walk Norfolk 2022, an accessible walking festival hosted by the charity Pathmakers ( BFER hosted a Riverside Heritage Walk in Thetford [1], led by history enthusiast Stuart Wright. Participants were guided along the River Little Ouse, discovering the rich history of industry, Second World War defence, and local historical figures. BFER worked with foraging expert Jon Tyler to host Fungi, Fruits, and Seeds, a guided foraging walk in Brandon Country Park [2]. Participants discovered the wonderful world of fungi, uncovering a huge variety of species in the beautiful autumnal surrounds of the Country Park.

During the October half term holidays, BFER hosted a range of family activities and events. At Thetford library, children created collaged posters to celebrate their local rivers at our free workshop, Creative Collaging for Kids [3]. The British Trust for Ornithology led a guided family bird spotting walk at Lynford Arboretum [4], discovering species including Firecrest, Great Crested Grebes, and Siskin. BFER also held a craft stall at Brandon Country Park’s Pumpkin Fest, creating paper ‘Brecks bugs and beasties’ [5].

BFER Volunteer Opportunities

Have you volunteered for a BFER supported project? We would love you to join us at our Volunteer Celebration event, Thursday 8th December 2022, 1pm-3.30pm, The Guildhall (Thetford). Join the BFER team for an informal end of year celebration. Meet the BFER team, project partners, and fellow volunteers, discover the progress of BFER projects from the year via short talks and displays, and enjoy festive activities and food. For more information, and to RSVP, contact:

Would you like to become a BFER Volunteer? From assisting at events and activities, to video editing, and supporting our office staff, we have a range of flexible roles available for different skill levels and interests. Whether you’re looking for work experience, to try something new, or to share your enthusiasm for wildlife and heritage through our projects, we’d love to hear from you. No previous experience is required. To find out more contact our Volunteer and Engagement Officer, Nicole, to have a chat and find out how to get involved:

Our Partners below are recruiting volunteers for a variety of exciting projects in the Brecks:

Bush Adventures UK – Events Volunteers and Garden Volunteers

Charles Burrell Museum – Front of House Volunteer, Main Display Area Guide, Café Staff and Engine Specific Volunteer

Tales from the River – Research Volunteer

Run Breckland  Volunteer Marshals

Little Ouse Headwaters Project (LOHP) – Practical Conservation Volunteer

The Icknield Way Association – Officers and Wardens

For more information on the opportunities visit:

If you are recruiting volunteers in the Brecks area and would like to advertise your opportunities here, please email:

Upcoming Events

We are really excited to share with you some of the wonderful outdoor events and activities that are in the pipeline.

BFER Events

Guided Bird Walk: Knettishall – 12th November
Join experts from the British Trust for Ornithology on this free guided walk

Lantern Making and Winter Celebration: West Stow County Park – 27th November
Join a family afternoon workshop at West Stow Country Park to create lanterns with natural materials

Festive Wild Craft: Thetford – 8th December
Explore natural riverside materials in Thetford, and learn basic weaving techniques to make seasonal decorative crafts

For more information on the events & to book: Click here to view our events page

Do you have an event you would like us to promote on our newsletter, on our website, or across our social media pages?

Please complete the form for us to share your event:

Event detail form

Winter Talks Programme
Dates for your diaries
Join BFER next year for an exciting series of Winter Talks at the Guildhall, Thetford.

Thursday 2nd February, 7pm-8pm:
Nicola Crockford: A portal into another world: snorkelling the chalk streams of the Brecks and Fens
During the 2020 lock down, Nicola Crockford began to explore a whole new world when she took to snorkelling the rivers near her West Suffolk home. Here she will share some of her discoveries: Brown Trout to Brook Lampreys, freshwater sponges to leeches and jewellery hoard to human skull.

Thursday 16th February, 7pm-8pm:
Dr Richard Hoggett: “Wonderful Things”: Howard Carter and the Discovery of Tutankhamun
Marking the centenary of the official opening of the burial chamber within Tutankhamun’s tomb, this lecture tells the story of Howard Carter and one of the greatest archaeological discoveries ever made. The son of a Swaffham artist, Carter was inspired by visits to the Egyptian collections at nearby Didlington Hall and went on to forge a career in Egyptology, throughout which he doggedly pursued the tomb of the boy-king.

Thursday 2nd March, 7pm-8pm:
Entomologist, Dr Ross Piper: Bugs in the Brecks
From wasps that are much smaller than a full-stop, all the way up to hand-sized beetles, insects are far and away the most diverse animals on the planet. In this talk, Ross Piper invites you to take a closer look at these endlessly fascinating lifestyles of these creatures, including some of the species you can see in the Brecks

Keep an eye out on our BFER events page on our website or social media pages to find out more about the winter talks programme

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While we are out filming videos for you, you can watch our latest video here:

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