Thetford Forest, The Brecks



Acorn was asked to develop visitor itineraries for six protected areas in the East of England:

  • The Brecks 
  • The Broads
  • The Chilterns AONB
  • Dedham Vale AONB and Stour Valley
  • Norfolk Coast AONB
  • Suffolk Coast and Heaths

The purpose of the study was to research, compile and produce three visitor itineraries for each of the protected areas and to engage local businesses in the promotion and dissemination of the itineraries to visitors. 

The objectives of the project were both sustainability and economically driven. The sustainability objectives were to change the behaviour of visitors to lessen their impact on the environment; raise awareness amongst visitors about protected areas status and their potential impact upon it; engage local businesses in the sustainable tourism agenda and to reduce car travel in the protected areas.

Economically, the objectives were to add value to the existing tourism product; maximise visitor spend in the local economy without a substantive increase in visitor numbers; extend the average length of stay and increase visitor purchase of local products.

Our Approach 

A core objective of developing these sustainable tourism itineraries for the East of England was to involve local tourism businesses in the process. This meant taking on board local stakeholders’ suggestions, feedback and concerns through a workshop held for each of the protected areas and subsequent contact with businesses involved in each itinerary.

The ultimate purpose of the itineraries was to encourage the use of public transport, cycling and walking both for access to the protected areas and within its boundaries, while at the same time taking account of the needs of local residents, local businesses and visitors. 

The itineraries produced provided a spectrum of ideas for local tourism stakeholders to adopt within their businesses. Furthermore, they encouraged and inspired businesses to experiment with new itineraries, using their own ideas, facilitated through a ‘toolkit’ that provided a framework for creating further itineraries.


A set of 18 itineraries was produced for the six protected areas. They concentrated on walking, cycling, equestrian, and water-based activities, and public transport. Three main itineraries were written for each area, each one containing several ‘mini’ itineraries with suggestions of activities that visitors could undertake during a stay of 1 to 3 days or more. The full set of itinerary titles were:

The Brecks

  • Biking and Brewing in Thetford Forest
  • Enjoy living on a working farm
  • Horse riding breaks in and around Thetford Forest

The Broads

  • Canoe Safaris
  • Great ideas for discovering the best of the Broads by cycle
  • Walks and sights of the Broads by train and bus

The Chilterns AONB

  • Grand Union Canal and Tring Reservoirs
  • North Chilterns Villages by Bicycle
  • Walking and Cycling in the Northern Chilterns and Hitchin

Dedham Vale AONB and Stour Valley

  • A day walking through Constable Country
  • Days out cycling on the Painters’ Trail  
  • Exploring the Stour Valley on foot

Norfolk Coast AONB  

  • Exploring the Norfolk Coast Cycleway
  • See the wildlife wonders of North Norfolk by bus
  • Great ideas for making the most of the area by bus and train

Suffolk Coast and Heaths AONB  

  • A car free break in Southwold
  • Exploring the Stour Estuary
  • Woodbridge, Sutton Hoo and the Deben Estuary

The full set of itineraries contains a mixture of themed based and destination-based itineraries. They were distributed by local accommodation providers and were promoted on the local area organisations websites.


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Sustainable Tourism Itineraries for the Protected Areas in the East of England


Natural England,


East of England, United Kingdom
Natural England

Contact us

3 Woodland Enterprise Centre, Hastings Road,
Flimwell, East Sussex, TN5 7PR, UK

+44 (0) 1580 879970