About the LOHP

In 2012, the Little Ouse Headwaters Project invited the Education department at Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts to work on a 18 month-long creative project funded by the Heritage Lottery fund to celebrate the Little Ouse valley through art, writing and performance.


The project is a registered charity, established in 2002 by local residents keen to take practical action to help protect and restore threatened aspects of the local landscape and its wildlife.  It is located on the Norfolk/Suffolk border at the headwaters of the Little Ouse River (which forms the county border). 


The LOHP is a community-based, volunteer run project; it is managed by a Board of Trustees drawn from the local area. They currently manage 65 hectares of land adjacent to the river. Their overall aim is to encourage the creation of a continuous corridor of land along the headwaters of the river that is managed in a way that benefits wildlife and people, and helps to preserve the character of the local landscape. 


The LOHP is focused around the headwaters of the River Ouse, in the villages of Blo Norton, Garboldisham, Hinderclay, North & South Lopham, Redgrave, and Thelnetham. The areas of land that are managed by the LOHP include; Betty’s Fen, Blo Norton Fen & Little Fen, Broomscot Common, The Frith, Hinderclay Fen, The Lows, Parkers Piece & Bleyswycks Bank, Scarfe Meadows and Webbs Fen.


The upper Little Ouse valley contains sites of local, national and international importance for wildlife, most notably the small remaining fragments of valley fen.  Some of the sites they manage are protected by conservation designations (national – Site of Special Scientific Interest, or European – Special Area of Conservation)


The LOHP are committed to increasing public access and enjoyment of the project area by creating new footpaths, providing guided walks, and encouraging people to become involved in the project as volunteers. Since 2002 they have raised over £1m to support land acquisition, habitat restoration and management, and public access improvements and interpretation on our sites. They have been funded by a very wide range of charitable trusts and received major grants from the Heritage Lottery Fund, the EU, Natural England, Biffaward, the Tubney Charitable Trust and Plantlife, as well as funding from Defra’s Environmental Stewardship schemes.


In 2010 they were awarded a £370,000 Heritage Lottery Fund grant for a three year project “Conservation and Learning in the Upper Little Ouse Valley”.  This has enabled them to undertake a range of activities in addition to wildlife conservation, including education work with a local school, heritage walks, newsletters, photography, volunteer training, and a significant collaboration with the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts to establish a Creative Group, drawing artistic inspiration from the valley. 


The LOHP has won a number of national and regional awards for its work. Further information about the project can be found on the website: www.lohp.org.uk


Jo-Anne Pitt, Chair


Email: enquiries@lohp.org.uk




History of the Little Ouse


The rivers Little Ouse and Waveney both have their origins in the shallow valley which marks the historic boundary between the counties of Norfolk and Suffolk. This river corridor formerly held the most extensive area of valley fenland habitat in England, uniting the great wildernesses of Breckland and Broadland.


The river was canalised as early as the 18th Century but more radical changes to the the Little Ouse headwaters followed the Second World War, when over-deepening of the channel and land drainage led to drying-out and conversion to arable agriculture of much of the surrounding land. Small areas of fenland survived but their wildlife interest declined. Many factors contributed to this decline. These included the ending of traditional management practices such as peat digging and reed and sedge cutting, the lowering of water tables as a result of abstraction, a reduction in water quality as a result of agricultural pollution and the inability of many species to survive in such small, isolated patches of land. Today, despite these losses, pockets of land around the headwaters of the Little Ouse and Waveney still retain wildlife that is recognised as being of international importance.





The wildlife of the headwaters of the Little Ouse is very special, not only to those living in the valley, but also in a much wider context. Some of the communities of plants in the valley’s fens are important at a European level because they are so uncommon. Many of the habitats in the valley are recognised as priorities for conservation in England and are home to many nationally rare species.


In addition to these internationally important habitats, most of the wetland, heathland and old farmland habitats within the LOHP sites are of national importance for wildlife.