Chippenham Fen National Nature Reserve



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The main interest of the Chippenham Fen NNR is its flora, with a diverse range of plants species thriving in a classic fen habitat. The invertebrates are another important feature of the site, particularly the two-winged and biting flies which include midges, mosquitoes and horseflies. Cambridge milk-parsley grows well on the site. This plant is only found in three other sites in the UK and is protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act. More than 400 species of wildflowers have been recorded including marsh helleborine, black bog rush, bogbean, bog pimpernel and saw-wort, southern marsh and fragrant orchids. Over 500 moth species are found here, including silver barred and reed leopard. Recently, Rosser’s sac spider was rediscovered at the site for the first time in nearly 20 years. Breeding birds include woodcock, snipe, and an astonishing nine species of migrant warblers, which fill the fen with their song in summer.

Chippenham Fen National Nature Reserve


About the area

Discover Cambridgeshire

To the west of East Anglia is Cambridgeshire, a county best known as the home to the university that makes up the second half of ‘Oxbridge’ (the other half is Oxford). As well as its globally renowned educational credentials, it also has a rich natural history; much of its area is made up of reclaimed or untouched fens. These are low-lying areas which are marshy and prone to flooding. The lowest point in the UK is at Holme Fen, which is some 9 feet (2.75 metres) below sea level. Some of the fens had been drained before, but it was in the 19th and 20th centuries that wide-spread, successful drainage took place, expanding the amount of arable and inhabitable land available.

Ely Cathedral was built on an island among the swampy fens, but now sits among acres of productive farmland, albeit farmland criss-crossed by miles of flood-preventing watercourses. Oliver Cromwell was born in Ely, and his family home can still be visited. Cambridge itself is a beautiful and historic city, with any number of impressive old buildings, churches and colleges, and plenty of chances to mess about on the River Cam which gave the city its name.

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