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Estuaries

River Ore at Hollesley

Photo credit: Gill Moon

The low-lying landscape of Suffolk’s five estuaries allows for beautiful and often expansive views across saltmarshes, grazing marshes, and mudflats.


These valuable habitats are incredibly important areas for wildlife are internationally important for migratory birds and support a host of other wildlife.

Though separated only by a few miles, the diversity of the estuaries is something to behold.

The estuaries hold many treasures and have significant community support, which is epitomised in the estuary partnerships. Find out more about the partnerships.

Though separated only by a few miles, the diversity of the estuaries is something to behold.

The Blyth estuary is 4 miles (6.5Km) long starting at Blythburgh and finishing at its mouth at Southwold Harbour. Minsmere and Walberswick have a wonderful National Nature Reserve where you can hear Bittern “booming” in spring and see Natterjack Toads.

The Alde and Ore is Suffolk’s longest estuary at nearly 16 miles (25.5Km) long. It is separated from the sea by Orford Ness, Europe’s largest vegetated spit and an internationally important nature reserve because of the wildlife that thrives there.  

The Deben estuary is 10miles (16km) long and is home to 40% of Suffolk’s saltmarsh.

The Orwell is 11 ½ miles long. It’s a very narrow estuary that is an internationally important habitat for wildlife. There are nature reserves at Trimley, Levington and Nacton and peregrine falcons nest on the Orwell Bridge.  

The Stour estuary is 10 ¾ miles long with internationally important habitats for wildlife. A designated boundary review completed in 2020 extended the boundary to include the majority of the estuary as well as additional land on the southern shore. 

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