The Swaffham Crier Online

News from Wicken Fen

A big thank you to everyone who joined us for our community celebration on 12 September for the official opening of the Reach Lode Bridge and Burwell Fen cycleway. We were delighted with the turnout and hope that everyone enjoyed themselves.

The new bridge and cycleway form part of the Lodes Way running from Wicken to Bottisham which has now been signposted along the entire length with blue National Cycleway network signs. A copy of the Lodes Way leaflet, complete with a map of the route is available from the Wicken Fen Visitor Centre or online at

Plans are now being developed for a new crossing over Burwell Lode suitable for walkers, cyclists, horse riders and our free roaming herds of konik ponies and highland cattle. Consultants have been appointed to design the bridge and we are hoping to submit a planning application to East Cambs District Council later in the autumn.

Planning approval was received at the beginning of September for the construction of a low level clay bund enclosing 80 hectares of Burwell Fen; this will assist the creation of mixed wetland habitat through the shallow, seasonal inundation of the enclosed area. The bund will have a maximum height of 650 mm above the surrounding ground level and once it has been re-colonised by grasses and reeds will not easily be noticeable in the landscape, in fact the new cycleway across Burwell Fen will form the Eastern end of the bund.

In August we were delighted to learn that we are to receive a grant of £224, 583 from the WREN Biodiversity Action Fund. Wicken Fen was one of 10 projects nationwide to receive grants totalling £2Million aimed at helping to achieve the UK's ambitious biodiversity targets. Wren (Waste Recycling Environmental Limited) is a not for profit business that helps benefit the lives of people close to landfill sites by awarding grants for community, conservation and heritage projects. A significant element of the grant will be spent on the Burwell Fen habitat restoration project mentioned earlier, new equipment and will help fund a newWarden post. A major project to re-wet Sedge and Verrall's Fen is set to commence at the end of September. In recent years both fens have received little water from flooding which was once the case. Today the main source of water is acidic rainwater which is having a detrimental effect on the fen's delicate vegetation communities. The plan is to re-charge the water table using water from Monks Lode which has filtered through the chalk of the Newmarket Hills before flowing towards Wicken. Water taken from Monks Lode will be pumped under Wicken Lode and then lifted into a ditch using a small wind pump from where it will gradually spread out through the peat. The project is being funded by the Environment Agency and will contribute towards the Governments public service agreement target for 95% of Sites of Special Scientific Interest being in favourable or unfavourable recovering condition by the end of December 2010. We are holding our first ever Scarecrow Festival and Competition over the weekend of 23-24 October. There are three competition classes: Individual -Under 11s, Individual 11+ (incl adults) and Groups (School classes, toddler groups, clubs, WI or scouts, brownies, guides etc).

You can choose any theme suitable for a family audience, although extra marks will be awarded for local relevance, such as fen characters or animals. Please bring your entries along to Wicken Fen anytime from the 10th -22nd October where you will be given a competition number .The scarecrows will be displayed in fen cottage garden, along the trails and picnic area during the festival. Other events during October include; Mucky Pups - pre-school fun for little fairies (18 months- 4 years) Thurs 14 Oct 1030 -1200; Half Term at Wicken Fen- follow our wildlife murder mystery trail, Mon 25 -Fri 29th; Winter Wildlife make bird feeders and food to help your garden birds through the winter months -Tues 26th ; Batty Halloween -come along in your spookiest outfit for some ghostly goings on Fri 29th; Ghost Walk (7+ years only please) Sat 30th 1830- 1930. Information and tickets for all events (early booking advisable) is available on 01353 720274

Howard Cooper - National Trust Wicken Fen