Window on the world

PUBLISHED: 05:26 27 April 2015

Golden plover at NWT Cley Marshes, Anna Guthrie

Golden plover at NWT Cley Marshes, Anna Guthrie

(C) Chris Taylor Photo

As Norfolk Wildlife Trust’s new Simon Aspinall Wildlife Education Centre prepares to open its doors, Rebecca Worsfold takes a look at what will now be on offer at Cley Marshes.

Boy and grandad at Cley Marshes VC, credit Norfolk Coast PartnershipBoy and grandad at Cley Marshes VC, credit Norfolk Coast Partnership

There are few who can say they are not affected by a visit to Cley Marshes. A place where, since 1926, the wild inspires the human and where humans protect the wild. Its landscape, wildlife, sounds and seasons, migrant birds and vast skies are a source of delight and inspiration to as many bird watchers as there are birds, from all over the UK and abroad.

Norfolk Wildlife Trust opened the current visitor centre in 2007 and welcomed over half a million visitors in its first five years. Chief executive of Norfolk Wildlife Trust, Brendan Joyce explains: “It quickly became clear that it was attracting a greater mix of visitors than before, many of whom wanted to discover more about the marshes, wildlife and coastline. Alongside this, we wanted to be able to offer a flexible space for community groups, local businesses and others in which they could develop their knowledge and interest in wildlife and conservation.”

An appeal raised £2.6 million for the project – which included a land purchase and its conservation – thanks to a Heritage Grant of £1.5 million from the National Lottery through the Heritage Lottery Fund and more than £900,000 donated by members of NWT, the Norfolk public, businesses and charitable trusts.

The centre is named in memory of Norfolk naturalist, Simon Aspinall (1958- 2011), in recognition of his contribution to ornithology and nature conservation. New state of the art interactive interpretation is incorporated in the centre on key conservation themes such as migration, coastal conservation and the creation of Living Landscapes. A striking feature is the new observation deck, with breathtaking views of the marshes.

Taster and special interest events will complement a new education programme for schools and young people. Events will cater for all ages and abilities and cover areas such as wildlife, the arts, conservation, photography, history and landscape. Brendan adds: “We hope the new centre and the beautiful nature reserve will inspire current and future generations of conservationists on the importance of this area for wildlife.”

The Simon Aspinall Wildlife Education Centre at NWT Cley Marshes opened to visitors on March 28.


NWT is looking for volunteers to join the team at NWT Cley Marshes visitor centre to help inspire people about the north Norfolk coast and its wildlife. For the first time, we are also welcoming mini volunteers – children aged eight to 16 years old to help us spread the word about how great it is to spend time outside exploring and discovering nature. If you are interested, please call the centre on 01263 740008 or see

Exhibitions of East Anglian artists and photographers run throughout the year at Cley;

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