The reserve supports a wide range of characteristic fenland communities and is notable for its many different animals and plants. The site is also important in a European context for its mixed fen characterised by purple moor-grass.
Main habitats: Peatland
Area: 255 ha
Site map: Nature on the Map
Although most NNRs are managed by Natural England, 88 are wholly or partly managed by other bodies approved by Council, under Section 35 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981.
The Wicken Fen reserve is owned and managed by the National Trust.
Wicken Fen NNR is on the upper reaches of the River Cam, near the village of Wicken, 10 km south of Ely. It is one of the most important remnants of the original peat fens of East Anglia, the majority of which have been drained and given over to arable farm land.
The nearest villages are Wicken (0.5 km to the east) and Upware (0.5 km to the west). Wicken is on the A1123 and, by car, the reserve is accessed via a minor road from the village. The nearest car parks are in Wicken and Upware.
For details of local bus services go to the Cambridgeshire County Council transport website.
The reserve is on the route of a major trail, the Fen Rivers Way, part of the E2 European Long Distance Path.
For details of accommodation in the area see the East of England Tourist Board.
The reserve has a visitor centre with a shop and seasonal cafe. There are a number of picnic areas in, and near, the reserve.
There is a disabled toilet in the car park near the centre with a RADAR lock. Large-print and braille guides are available.
There are guided walks through the reserve and an audio trail. A 1.5 km boardwalk is suitable for wheelchair access and some hides have been adapted to allow easy access.
Habitats: Wicken Fen is divided by a man-made watercourse called Wicken Lode. The area north of Wicken Lode, together with a small area known as Wicken Poors' Fen, forms the NNR. These areas contain original peat fen with communities of carr and sedge. They support rare and uncommon fenland plants such as marsh pea, Cambridge milk parsley, fen violet and marsh fern. This part of the Fen can be enjoyed from a series of boardwalks.
The area south of the Lode is called Adventurer's Fen and consists of rough pasture, reedbed and pools.
The dykes, abandoned claypits and other watercourses carry a great wealth of aquatic plants, many of which are uncommon elsewhere.
Birds: this area is attractive to a large number of birds. Species recorded living at the site include great crested grebe, cormorant, gadwall, teal, sparrowhawk, water rail, kingfisher, snipe, woodcock, great spotted and green woodpecker; and barn, little, tawny, long-eared and short-eared owl.
In addition to these resident species the site also supports many visiting birds such as bittern, whooper swan, golden plover, garganey, pochard, goosander, marsh harrier, merlin and hobby.
Invertebrates: the rich invertebrate populations of Wicken Fen have long attracted enthusiasts and the reserve supports large numbers of snail, spider and beetle species. Damselflies found here include the emerald, azure and common blue; together with dragonflies such as the southern and brown hawker, emperor, hairy, and black-tailed skimmer.
The nationally rare reed leopard moth is common at the site. Other local moths include cream-bordered green pea, yellow-legged clearwing and emperor. China-mark moths such as the small, brown and ringed are also seen here.
Local butterflies include the green hairstreak, brown argus, speckled wood and brimstone.
The present appearance of the Sedge Fen is a result of centuries of management. Crops currently taken are sedge over a small area, and a larger acreage of fen 'litter'. Scrub is being managed to extend the areas of open fen. Wet pastures at Adventurer's Fen are managed by grazing stock, and conditions are being created to benefit the growth of reed.
Invasive aquatic species
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