The Fen Edge

The Landscape

The Cambridgeshire landscape has a unique and fascinating history, from floods and glaciers to deep seas, tropical lagoons and even volcanoes! By exploring the Fen Edge much of this history can be discovered through looking at the clues that remain. Many factors have affected the landscape over millions of years and whether it involves the geology, the climate or colonisation by man, the story is one of dramatic changes with a few surprises along the way.

Starting with the local geology, we’ll see how the past has influenced the land that we’ll be walking across, with opportunities to learn about the plants and animals that have lived here before, through the many exciting fossils that have been found in the area, some of which can still be seen, not only in collections around the county but often in the walls and floors of buildings in our villages, towns and cities.

The Fens

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.

Fens for the Future

The Fens for the Future Partnership is a group of public, private and voluntary sector organisations including local authorities, nature conservation bodies, farmers and landowners and academic institutions with a vision for the Fens. Cambridgeshire Geological Society and the Fen Edge Trail are partners in Fens for the Fututre.

Fens Biosphere proposal

A Biosphere is an area of land which has been recognised by UNESCO as having a strong identity, excellent resources management and a focus on learning and innovation. The Fens Biosphere looks to the future: it aims to bring people, nature and science together to provide a great quality of life in the fens without exhausting or damaging the resources in the area. These resources include an exceptional environment and wildlife; the natural resources of land, soil and water and lastly (but not least) the people who live and work in its communities. Cambridgeshire Geological Society and the Fen Edge Trail are partners in this exciting initiative.

© Cambridgeshire Geological Society