Monks Wood National Nature Reserve



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Monks Wood NNR is one of Britain’s most famous lowland woods, home to many species of wild plants and a rich insect fauna. It is one of the largest ancient woodlands in Cambridgeshire, with a recorded history that stretches back over 900 years. The ancient woodlands of oak, ash and field maple trees have an understorey of hazel, blackthorn, dogwood and sallow, and the rare wild service tree. The ground flora includes many species typical of ancient woodland including bluebell, wood anemone and yellow archangel. The wood is well known for its butterflies, and features species such as the white admiral, grizzled skipper, white-letter hairstreak and the rare black hairstreak. It is also home to over 1,000 different kinds of beetles, making it one of the top sites in Britain for them. A range of woodland birds is found, including woodcock, tawny owl, and lesser spotted woodpecker. Red kite and buzzard breed regularly, and mammals such as badger, hare, fox and muntjac deer are numerous.

Monks Wood National Nature Reserve
Wood Walton


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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