Wicken Things to Do
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The reserve is not only the home of many rare birds, but also of plants typical for the fens.
Some explanations are given throughout the walk,illustrated with pictures. You can see how the sedge was being harvested, the workers wearing strong gloves to protects themselves from being cut by the sharp plant. This sedge grass has been used for the thatched houses.
They were so many flowers and kinds of grass which I had never seen before, even though I
had printed out some information about the flora typical for this area. I took pictures and now I'm trying to find out the names.Related to:
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There are three walks through the reserve, from an easy one one boards to more difficult ones through the wet land.
We had come on one of the first nice days after weeks of rain and found out that without
wellingtons or high walking boots, (which we hadn't packed )we could only take the boardwalk.
It was shorter than we had planned to walk, but still very interesting. Only two other people
were there early in the morning, so it was really quiet. I'm very much interested in bird watching and was happy to see two green woodpeckers very close, just about five minutes after we had started our walk.The walk then went on into a hide, overlooking a small lake.
And there we say a kingfisher, the blue jewel among birds!For me it was the absolute highlight!
We were able to watch it for several minutes, as we were the only people in the hide. I tried to take a picture, but with the small camera I have all you can see is a spot of colour in the green leaves.
Later during our walk I also saw a sedge warbler for the first time in my life.
Apart from birds there are many different kinds of butterflies and dragonflies.
I had also heard there are semi-wild ponies in the reserve, but to see them we'd have to take one of the longer and wetter walks.Related to:
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The Visitor Centre is a valuable resource for ecologists, botanists and birdwatchers, and the staff are helpful, friendly and knowledgable.
Note that Wicken Fen can be combined with a trip to the Welney Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust nature reserve (there's also an RSPB reserve in that area). See the Welney pages.
Kids can run free, although care needs to be taken as there is a lot of water around.
A further attraction is the old cottage, which the National Trust has refurbished alongside the entrance.
Next to the visitor center there is nice café, with tables both inside and outside. They don't offer full meals, but we had some tea and lemonade and a very good piece of cake,
sitting in the sun and reading through the information from the visitor center.
Coming by car from Cambridge go towards Ely and then Wicken. There are signs leading to Wicken Fen.You go through the village of Wicken and then down a very small lane towards the parking lot. Ours was the second car on the car park, but when we left it was quite full.
There's even a sign pointing to an overflow car park, so it must be very busy occassionally.
A parking ticket is 2 GBP.I didn't see anyone checking it, they seem to operate on the principle of trust, which I think is very nice. The same with the entrance fee, if you started your walk before the center is open and not pay afterwards, nobody would know.
Reallistically, the only option is by car as Wicken - like most villages in the UK - has terrible bus connections. Whether it's your own car or a taxi from a nearby station or Cambridge or Newmarket - access is going to be by road.
However, Wicken and Wicken Fen is also accessible by canalboat (along Wicken Lode from the River Cam) and there is also a superb network of footpaths and bridlepaths if you have a horse.
The car park is well signposted in the village, and is free for National Trust members. The car park is pay-and-display and doesn't take notes. The visitor centre will happily change them though!
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Wicken Warnings and Dangers
Nature doesn't differentiate. For us a kingfisher is much more beautiful than a hornet, and I much prefer seeing a coulourful dragonfly coming towards me than an equally colourful spider.
But to nature they're all the same.
So when you go to a nature reserve, be prepared for the "creepy crawlies" that we don't like too much.
There were hornets flying around, sometimes very close. I'm used to them from the forest at home, so they didn't bother me. But I know that this can be very difficult for some people, especially when they suffer from allergies.
The hides to watch the birds were the homes of lots of spiders! Cobwebs all over the place and spiders crawling around. If you don't want to touch one, have a close look at the windowsill first, before you sit down and put you arms on it.
Wicken What to Pack
Clothing/Shoes/Weather Gear: If it has been raining before your visit, pack some boots if you intend to go on a longer
walk. For the boardwalk no special footwear is necessary, though I wouldn't like to walk
there in open sandals.
Toiletries and Medical Supplies: As there is hardly any shade, bring some suntan lotion in case it's hot.
Miscellaneous: But most important: Don't forget your binoculars!
Watching the kingfisher through my binoculars was wonderful.