Wicken Fen National Nature Reserve



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Wicken Fen NNR is England’s most famous fen, the National Trust’s oldest nature reserve, and one of Europe’s most important wetlands, supporting an abundance of wildlife. There are more than 9,170 recorded species, including a spectacular array of plants, birds and dragonflies. The raised boardwalks and lush grass droves allow easy access to a lost landscape of flowering meadows, sedge and reedbeds, where you can encounter rarities such as hen harriers, water voles and bitterns. Look out and listen for the high-pitched song of the grasshopper warbler, the distinctive call of the cuckoo from the tree tops, hobbies taking dragonflies on the wing and emperor, broad-bodied chaser and common darter dragonflies. Wildflowers include yellow rattle, oxeye daisies, orchids, meadow rue and comfrey and you may catch fleeting glimpses of bats feeding on insects towards dusk. Wicken Fen Vision, an ambitious landscape-scale conservation project, is opening up new areas to explore. Grazing herds of Highland cattle and Konik ponies are helping to create a diverse range of new habitats.

Wicken Fen National Nature Reserve
Lode Lane, WICKEN, Ely, CB7 5XP


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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