Wicken Fen is Britain’s oldest nature reserve and a unique piece of the wilderness that once covered East Anglia. On May 1st 1899, the National Trust purchased its first two-acre strip for just £10. Now over 100 years later the reserve is over 800 acres.
Based only 16 miles outside of the city centre of Cambridge, this National Trust property is a retreat for all kinds of wildlife. There are 29 species of mammal, over 200 species of birds, 1000 species of moth and butterfly, 1000 species of beetle, 2000 species of fly and 25 species of dragonfly. You will also find stunning plants and perhaps some wild horses. You can explore the vast area by using the traditional nature trails but there is also a boardwalk nature trail giving access to several excellent hides.
The National Trust constantly works hard to protect the rare species that live at Wicken through intensive management of the fen habitats. This was becoming increasingly difficult and by the late 20th Century it had become clear they needed to take action. In 1999, they launched the Wicken Fen Vision, a 100-year plan to extend the reserve from Wicken to the outskirts of Cambridge, covering an area of 5300 sq hectares. They are gradually raising water levels and are using herds of free roaming konik ponies and highland cattle, as part of an extensive grazing programme to create new habitats. Another important part of the plan is to provide space for people to enjoy for their own leisure.
Only a 30-minute drive from the city centre of Cambridge, the fen is open all year round from dawn to dusk except for December 25th (some paths may be closed in very wet weather). This is definitely not a day-trip to miss.
Wicken Fen Fact: Approximately 40,000 visitors visit the Fen per year and of that over 6000 school children come to take part in their education programmes.