31 May Accessible Britain – Wicken Fen Nature Reserve Cambridgeshire
As summer is finally here, we and we all venture out more we’ve done some research into accessible attractions in the UK as we understand how frustrating it can be to arrive somewhere with sub parr accessibility which can make or break a day out.
The First in the series is from the Motability Rough Guides to Accessible Britain and is Wicken Fen Nature Reserve, Lode Lane, Wicken, Ely Cambridgeshire, CB7 5XP
Tel: 01353 720274
Hours: daily 10am–5pm, or dusk in winter Dates: reserve closed 25 Dec; café closed 25 Dec & Mon–Tues in winter (check ahead)
Entry: Disabled £8.50; Carer’s free; Adults £8.50; Children 5–17s £4.25; Family (Two adults and two children £21.25; NT members free.
Wicken Fen is one of Britain’s oldest nature reserves and one of the most important wetlands in Europe. It’s home to more than nine thousand species of wildlife, including otters and rare birds such as hen harriers. The reserve has a raised boardwalk which makes it an ideal place for disabled visitors and people with mobility issues to explore the fens.
A remnant of the once extensive Cambridgeshire fenlands, the area has been managed for centuries by sedge-cutting and peat-digging, resulting in this unique habitat. In order to sustain the many and varied species at Wicken Fen, the reserve has grown from two to two thousand acres since 1899. It is now one of England’s most diverse wetland sites and a nationally important habitat; for example, more than one thousand species of beetle have been found on the reserve. It’s a great birdwatching area (bitterns and marsh harriers being frequent visitors), and if you’re quiet and visit the more out of the way areas, you may see frogs, toads, newts and even a grass snake. Konik ponies (originally from Poland) and Highland cattle can be seen grazing in the reserve too.
You can take the leisurely ¾ mile circular Boardwalk, and add on the easy access path through the Woodland Walk for extra length at any time of year. The summer nature trail and the Adventurers’ Trail are longer, and can be muddy and wet, so a more challenging expedition. e team in the Visitor Centre will be able to advise. All routes have hides. Bring or borrow a pair of binoculars to ensure you have a good chance of seeing some of the more timid wildlife, as well as the birdlife.
Wicken Fen has ten disabled parking spaces and two manual wheelchairs to borrow. The boardwalk hides are fully accessible, with movable benches, so it is possible to get up really close to the windows. Assistance dogs are welcome on all routes, but the Sedge Fen (Boardwalk, Woodland and summer nature trail) is a dog-free zone. In the summer months, boat trips along the waterways are a great way to get out into the landscape, additional charge applies.
FOOD & DRINK
The café serves a variety of dishes such as soup, sandwiches and pasties.