Wicken Fen

Wicken Sedge Fen Nature Reserve

The Enclosure Award Map of Wicken Sedge Fen, circa 1810. See: Cambridgeshire Archives Reference: Q/RDc69. The Old Fen Cottage and adjacent buildings are shown bottom right.

A Public Footpath onto Sedge Fen crosses the footbridge, seen in this picture behind the traditional style shallow bottomed boat. It continues along Wicken Lode to the junction with Monk's Lode.

Breed Fen Drove, a Public Byway that commences opposite the Dragonfly Centre at Wicken Fen.

The Dragonfly Centre and thatched public toilet building, adjacent to the car park at Wicken Fen.

This Pubic Bridleway, known as Sedge Fen Drove, was the traditional access route onto the fen.

Wicken Sedge Fen is the National Trust's oldest nature reserve, the first part being acquired in 1899. It is one of the few remaining undrained areas of East Anglian fenland.

Originally the area was divided into strips of land, accessed by a central drove, where local people would cut sedge or reeds for thatch and dig peat for fuel. Nowadays all but one small section is owned by the National Trust.

Originally of interest to academics at nearby Cambridge University, because of the huge variety of wildlife to be found, nowadays it is also a major visitor attraction.

To mark the 100th anniversary, the National Trust announced a vision to expand the reserve and have begun to acquire much of the surrounding land that had previously been drained for agriculture and they are now busy returning it to a wetland nature reserve.

A new long distance cycle path, linking Cambridge to Ely via Wicken Fen has been created, called Lodes Way after the traditional fenland waterways known as Lodes that cross the area.

The surrounding area, including Lodes Way is free to access. However there is a charge to visit the old Sedge Fen, which at the time of writing (April 2014) stands at 6.15 for adults and 3.00 for children. There is an additional charge of 2.50 for car parking.

For visitors on a budget, free parking is available on street in the village of Wicken and at various locations around the fen.

There are also two Public Rights of Way that enter the Sedge Fen reserve and visitors can use these without charge. Although previously marked, the signposts for these routes have disappeared in recent times, but they are still shown on OS maps, which are available at the Wicken Fen Visitor Centre.

A Public Footpath starts from outside the visitor centre, adjacent to the Old Fen Cottage. It crosses a footbridge and continues inside the reserve along Wicken Lode as far as the junction with Monks Lode, close to the location of the modern wind pump that is used to maintain water levels on Sedge Fen.

There is also a Public Bridleway, known as Sedge Fen Drove, which runs up the centre of Sedge Fen.

The Bridleway can be accessed by following Breed Fen Drove, a Public Byway which runs from opposite the Dragonfly Centre and thatched toilet block, adjacent to the car parking area at Wicken Fen.

To reach Sedge Fen Drove, follow the Public Byway for about 200 metres in a north-westerly direction from the public toilets and on the left is the start of the Bridleway, which has access for horse riders, cyclists and walkers.

Sedge Fen Drove is the traditional access route to this part of the fen. In its day it was probably much used, as the Public Bridleway is designated as being four carts wide.

It is marked as a route on the old Enclosure Award Map of circa 1810, which also indicates that a number of buildings once stood close to the junction with Breed Fen Drove. Another cluster of buildings is shown on the same map, where the Dragonfly Centre and Old Fen Cottage still stand today.