The Great Fen

Photo:Rothchild's Bungalow in Woodwalton Fen NNR

Rothchild's Bungalow in Woodwalton Fen NNR

Photo:Woodwalton Fen

Woodwalton Fen

Photo:Pond dipping one of the inspiring schools programmes on offer.

Pond dipping one of the inspiring schools programmes on offer.

Photo:Short Eared Owls - at Trundle Mere

Short Eared Owls - at Trundle Mere

Photo:Face Painting at our Events

Face Painting at our Events

Photo:Reminiscence Sessions

Reminiscence Sessions

Photo:Chinese Water Deer

Chinese Water Deer

Photo:Fen Time Travellers School Programme

Fen Time Travellers School Programme

One of the most important wildlife projects in Britain....

Lauren Stonebridge

On the verge of extinction

The Fens, which stretched for hundreds of square miles, were once wild and wet. They were home to all sorts of wildlife, from beavers and otters, to butterflies and dragonflies, to water birds and wildflowers.

Over 99.9% of the original wild fens has been lost.

When the great wetland was drained for farming, much of the Fen wildlife could no longer survive on the land.

The Great Fen - one of the most exciting habitat restoration projects ever undertaken in Britain - will create a 3,700 hectare wetland between Huntingdon and Peterborough.

This will be achieved by obtaining land to connect two existing National Nature Reserves, Holme Fen and Woodwalton Fen. Connecting these two vitally important reserves will provide a haven for wildlife and create a massive green space for people, opening new opportunities for recreation, education and business.

The Great Fen is a long term and ambitious project, requiring the work, expertise and support of many people and partners. Already, successes are happening on the ground.

Visit the Great Fen

Visiting the Great Fen today you will already see a huge variety of wildlife, some found nowhere else. Restoration is underway and there are lots of places to visit for beautiful walks.

Great Fen Information Point - New Decoy...

Located at the heart of the Great Fen area, this is a great place to start your visit and get your bearings. There are maps and information and you can take a short walk past ponds, wet meadows and trees, to an unusual bird hide.

If you arrive by vehicle, as you step out you will immediately appreciate the vast flat landscape under a huge fenland sky. There are woods in the distance: to the northwest is Holme Fen and away to the south is Woodwalton Fen, both National Nature Reserves and two of the last surviving fragments of the wild, uncultivated fens. The whole area between the two woods and much more beyond them is now the designated Great Fen area. Some of this land is under restoration, while other parts are still being farmed.

In 2010, restoration began on the fields in front of the Information Point and these are already becoming wet meadows. This land was previously part of New Decoy Farm and the remaining farm buildings can be seen to the northeast, right of the bird hide. These buildings are where, in a few years' time the new Visitor Centre will be built.

Woodwalton Fen....

is one of Britain's oldest nature reserves. Mature reedbed, mixed fen, grassland, woodland and hawthorn scrub. Over 20kms of pathway with several meres and bird hides. Beautiful views and abundant wildlife can been seen throughout this internationally important site. Woodwalton Fen is open all year round with free access and limited parking along the bank.

Holme Fen.....

includes the biggest lowland silver birch woodland in Britain, open bracken, grassland and remnants of a raised peat bog. Over 12kms of pathway with 3 meres and hides. The famous Holme Post is situated in the heart of the reserve. Come and see a wide variety of wildlife including many species of weird and wonderful fungi.

The Wildlife Trust Countryside Centre....

is a great place to come and visit and includes an old brickworks, now used for educational and community activities and events, and a nature reserve. The Great Fen team often run activities and events (see our website for more details). This site has good access, parking and toilet facilties during office hours. It is also where the Great Fen team are based Mon to Fri 8:30am to 4:30pm and where information is available about the Great Fen.The Nature Reserve is open to the public at all times. Visit the Great Fen website for more details about what is on offer.

Rymes Reedbed - Site of Trundle Mere Lookout...

This part of the Great Fen area lies to the north and northeast of Holme Fen National Nature Reserve. It is bounded to the north by a major drainage dyke, Yaxley Lode, and to the west by the East Coast Mainline Railway.  

Previously this was arable farmland  - Holme Lode Farm and New Barn Farm. But before the farms existed this was the site of Trundle Mere, a large open body of water which, until it was drained in the 1840's was connected to its larger neighbour, Whittlesea Mere. There was also once a reedbed here named Rymes Reedbed, after which this part of the Great Fen area has been named.

The restoration of Rymes Reedbed began in 2011, so the land is still in the early stages of restoration work. Some fields have been sown with grass so that sheep can graze and remove the surplus nutrients applied when the land was under the plough. In other parts future meres, ponds and swampy areas have been excavated. In the short term there will be about 7 hectares of open water and swamp, 33 ha. of wet grassland and nearly 100 ha. of drier grassland and woodland. Several years after the first construction phase, the wet grassland will be encouraged to develop into reedbed with another 22 ha. of wet grassland established around the reedbed margins. Further wetland creation may be possible in the future depending on the availability of water.

Heritage

The Great Fen is an area rich in history and we are keen for it not to be lost. Our Great Fen team and Great Fen Local History group have been collecting memories and objects from local people. These have been archived and we have produced several booklets and a DVD using these memories. These are available to purchase via the Great Fen team.

Contacts and address

Wildlife Trust Countryside Classroom,Chapel Road, Ramsey Heights, Cambridgeshire PE26 2RS

For more information, including information about events and education visits please get in touch with the Great Fen team on 01487 710420, email info@greatfen.org.uk or visit the Great Fen website or The Wildlife Trust for Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Northamptonshire's website.

Find us

For directions and access information please visit the Great Fen website.

More about the Great Fen

This project is a partnership of the Environment Agency, Huntingdonshire District Council, Middle Level Commissioners, Natural England and the Wildlife Trust and is supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund.

We Offer

  • Educational programmes
  • Family and community events throughout the year.
  • Themed guided walks.
  • volunteering opportunities.
This page was added on 12/03/2010.

If you're already a registered user of this site, please login using the form on the left-hand side of this page.