Creating a new fenland wildlife haven and green space for Huntingdon and Peterborough.
The Great Fen is a partnership project by the Wildlife Trust with Natural England, the Environment Agency, Huntingdonshire District Council and the Middle Level Commissioners. The project will provide a fenland haven of 3,700 hectares (9,000 acres) in between Huntingdon and Peterborough. Find out more on the Great Fen website.
This will be achieved by obtaining land that links or is adjacent to the two existing National Nature Reserves, Holme Fen and Woodwalton Fen. Connecting these two vitally important nature reserves will provide a haven for wildlife and create a massive green space for people, providing new opportunities for recreation, education and business. There are currently five visitor sites in the Great Fen area.
(managed by Natural England)
Follow grass paths through this beautiful National Nature Reserve and discover the Rothschild Bungalow - a thatched retreat built by the Hon. Charles Rothschild when he acquired the land and created the nature reserve in 1911. Woodwalton Fen is home to a wide variety of wildlife, including butterflies, dragonflies and birds such as bitterns and marsh harriers. Common cranes disappeared from the Fen landscape 400 years ago, due to habitat change and hunting, but since 2008 they have been seen intermittently on the site. For more information please visit the Natural England website.
From the west and north banks of Woodwalton Fen it is possible to look out over Darlow's and Middle Farms, areas of the Great Fen that are being converted from arable fields into species-rich wet pastureland.
(managed by Natural England)
Another National Nature Reserve, this large silver birch woodland surrounds two open meres and supports many types of wildlife including a huge variety of fungi. Of particular interest is the Holme Post, which shows how ground levels have fallen dramatically since the Fens were drained. For more information, please visit the Natural England website.
From Holme Fen you can look across more former arable land that is now under restoration. The fields of Summer Standing are to the south and to the northeast lies Rymes Reedbed (see below).
The Countryside Centre at Ramsey Heights
(managed by the Wildlife Trust)
This site, which serves as a base for education and community work provides an ideal introdution to the Great Fen with reeds, meadows and ponds and pools rich in aquatic life all within a short walk. Nationally protected great crested newts breed on the site, which is also home to the water stick-insect and several rare beetles. The classroom is built around a Victorian brick and tile works. Find out more about the Countryside Centre at Ramsey Heights.
Great Fen Information Point at New Decoy Farm
Located at the heart of the Great Fen area, this is a great place to start your visit and get your bearings. The fields here are being restored with grazing cattle and newly profiled ditches and scrapes. There are maps and information panels and you can take a short way-marked walk past ponds, wet meadows and trees, to an unusual bird hide. More details are here.
Major construction work of drains, dykes and open areas of water is under way in this area which is the site of Trundle Mere, an offshoot of Whittlesea Mere the largest lake in the south of England before it was drained in the 19th century. A tower hide has been built on the boundary of this area enabling you to look out over the restoration work and view the birdlife that is already beginning to use the new habitats. Pictures and details here.
Nearby nature reserves
Nature reserve map
Contains Ordnance Survey data © Crown copyright and database right 2012