Many visitors on a cottage holiday should explore South Walsham, east of Wroxham, in the heart of the Broads, where Fairhaven Woodland and Water Garden offers more than fifty acres of peaceful, watery haven and stunning blooms. Famed for its unique collection of primulas, birds, butterflies and flowers delight whatever the season and traditional woodland practices such as coppicing can be witnessed firsthand. Elsewhere among the Broads, there are some twenty or more individual Nature Reserves to choose from, each with its own unique offering. Some, such as Hoveton Great Broad, can only be reached on water; others, like the Broads Wildlife Centre at Ranworth, pride themselves on being totally free from boat traffic. Some of the larger reserves, such as those at Strumpshaw Fen and Breydon Water, come under the auspices of the RSPB. Barton and Hickling reserves qualify as Broads in their own right. Whilst all offer different species and specialities, be it insects or golden reedbeds, bitterns or plovers, grazing marshes, dykes or woodland walks, all offer a marvellous insight into the delicately balanced ecology of the region. One or two, however, are worthy of particular note. Hickling Broad, near the market town of Stalham, is one of the largest nature reserves, with an excellent Visitor Centre, bird hide, boardwalk trail, picnic area and gift shop. The Water Trail runs twice daily during the summer, offering visitors a guided boat trip to delve into otherwise hidden areas of the reserve, whilst the unique tree tower climbs some sixty feet high above the watery landscape, affording stunning panoramic views over the county’s northern and eastern coastlines. How Hill reserve, near Ludham, also offers exploration of the Broad by boat; the solar-powered ‘Electric Eel’ glides silently through the reedbeds of the dykes to reveal the varied and colourful marshland wildlife that proliferates in this reserve. Here you will also see the raw materials that are still used to thatch the roofs of many of Norfolk’s traditional cottages.