A journey across a landscape and time
Explore the Cambridgeshire Fen Edge
The Fen Edge Trail is a walking route around the Cambridgeshire Fens, roughly following the land that lies 5 metres above sea level (the 5 metre contour), where the low-lying fenland meets the surrounding higher land.
With short detours to visit nearby viewpoints, historical and cultural sites and areas good for wildlife, the Trail enables you to enjoy this fascinating area that has been of strategic importance for the local inhabitants since their first arrival. As well as exploring the landscapes of the Fens, you will discover the rocks that lie underneath and those that form the surrounding ‘highlands’, as well as finding out about the life that existed when they were formed, and how the past and current landscapes have affected fenland life.
More than a walking route, the Trail enables you to explore the rich Landscape Heritage of this part of lowland England. The links between geology, ecology, history and current day life in the fens reveal themselves and the more you look, the more you discover and the more fascinating it becomes!
The second walk of the Trail is now published: Stow cum Quy to Swaffham Bulbeck
The walk leaflets can be downloaded from the Stow cum Quay to Reach webpage
The first walk, Ramsey to Wistow, can be downloaded from the Ramsey to Warboys webpage
Patrick Barkham, nature writer for the Guardian, visits the Fen Edge Trail
We were delighted to have a visit from Patrick a couple of weeks ago followed by a write up in the Travel section of the Guardian on Saturday 21st April. As Patrick wanted to walk some of the Trail from Peterborough to Ramsey, he had the chance to call in at the soon-to-be-opened Fen View heritage Centre at Farcet and also to call into the Great Fen to visit Holme Fen, Engine Farm, Rymes Reedbed and Woodwalton Fen. A brief lunch was also taken at the Admiral Wells in Holme.
The extensive fenlands of eastern England reach far to the north into Lincolnshire, south throughout much of Cambridgeshire and also extend into western Norfolk. As the land rises from the low-lying fens to the surrounding ‘hills’, the character of the buildings, land use and natural history changes. The influence of the chalk uplands to the southeast, the claylands to the west, the breckland to the east and the limestone uplands to the northwest, have all had their effect.
At various times in the last few thousand years, the fenland has been flooded and, at the Fen Edge, the land changed from extensive wetland to dryer land where settlements could be built. The surrounding higher land now provides viewpoints that are windows into the past – looking down onto one of the last areas in England where ‘wilderness’ existed and people have met many challenges to survive.
The story of the formation of the original wetland, with its water channels, lakes, reedbeds and tidal marshes, that resulted in the deposits of peat and marl, to the draining for use as agricultural land, and then the current efforts to restore some of its natural values, is one that is unique in England.
The Fen Edge Trail is an initiative set up by the Cambridgeshire Geological Society as part of our Geosites work. Our partners in developing the Trail are several local organisations who are each exploring their local landscape to contribute to the project. Our main partner is The Fenland Trust in Yaxley. Other key partners are the Great Fen, together with the Great Fen Heritage Group and Great Fen Local Group, and the Wildlife Trust (Beds, Cambs and Northants). Other organisations already contributing to the project include Warboys Archaeology Project, Chatteris Museum, Discover Ramsey, Burwell Museum, Farcet Parish Council and Holme History.
If you would like to get involved in the project, please contact us.
© Cambridgeshire Geological Society