Wicken Fen ghost walk
Lode Lane, Wicken, Ely, Cambridgeshire CB7 5XPRoute details and mapDownload as a print friendly PDF
Explore a fragment of the wilderness that once covered East Anglia on an eerie ghost walk across the fenland. As a nature reserve, there’s lots of wildlife to look out for too. Our spooky ghost stories are taken from 'Ghosts: Mysterious tales from the National Trust' by Siân Evans.
- Bus stop
Start: Wicken Fen National Trust Visitor Centre, grid ref: TL563705
Take a look in the Visitor Centre to find out more about the wildlife and history of Wicken Fen. As you exit, Wicken Lode is on your right. Follow the path, keeping the water to your right. You'll pass some ash trees and Wickens Poor Fen on your left. This is common land. Traditionally local villagers had the right to collect sedge and peat from here.
Cross Monks Lode at Normans Bridge. Look out for plants like arrowhead and water lilies. Turn left after the bridge.
With its dark skies, away from the intrusive lights of towns, the fens offer a truly spooky setting for your ghost walk. Eerie tales of the Lantern Men have persisted for centuries. If you wander across the fens at night you might be greeted with inexplicable lights which flit over the surface of the marshes and meres. Another more probable explanation, however, is that these lights are created by marsh gas.
Walk along Monks Lode, then turn right through the lower set of gates.
Monk’s Lode starts as a chalk spring at Landwade Hall, Newmarket. Many of the Lodes in the area were thought to be constructed by the Romans and used for transport. It is believed that Monk’s Lode is so-called because it was used by the monks of Spinney Abbey, to the west of Wicken, for fishing and transport.
Note the two hides on your right. Look out for birds like wigeon, teal and shoveler in winter and lapwing and redshank in summer on the flooded fields. Bearded tit, heron and marsh harrier live here year round. You may also see woodpecker nesting in birch trees and barn owls hunting over the fen.
As with other wild and remote places, such as Dartmoor, it is widely believed that a huge black dog stalks through the fens. Some even say that if you look into its eyes they turn orangey red and are as big as bike lights.
Turn right along the next path and on your right is the site of Normans Mill, originally used to drain the turf (peat) pits. The windpump is now restored on Sedge Fen. On your left, roe deer can often be spotted. This land was cultivated in the Second World War Dig for Victory campaign, but is now being restored.
The area is thought to be the haunt of a long-dead Roman legion that have made brief appearances to passers-by before vanishing into thin air. Their presence here could be related to a canal route from Lincolnshire through the fens, established centuries ago by the Romans.
Note the reedbeds on your left and the many birds and insects inhabiting them. Turn right again to walk alongside Wicken Lode. There is a squeeze gap and path on the right leading to West Mere Hide, used to overlook the meres west end and the island.
Continue on to a hide which has views across the whole mere.
Cross back over Normans Bridge and return towards the Visitor Centre.
End: Wicken Fen National Trust Visitor Centre, grid ref: TL563705
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- Trail: Walking
- Grade: Easy
- Distance: 2.75 miles (4.4km)
- Time: 1 hour
- OS Map: Landranger 154; Explorer 226
Adventurers Trail: a well-signed route along wide grassy paths (can be muddy). There are many other routes at Wicken Fen, including a Boardwalk Trail, accessible for wheelchairs, all year round. See leaflet in visitor centre. Take care near waterways and ponds.
- How to get here:
By foot: 3 miles (4.8km) on footpaths to Wicken from Soham High Street
By bike: National Cycle Network route 11 passes reserve boundary
By bus: Stagecoach 12 from Cambridge, Ely and Newmarket, alight Soham High St, then walk; X9, 9 Cambridge to Ely, alight Stretham, 6 miles (9.6km)
By train: Ely station 9 miles (14.4km)
By car: 17 miles (27.4km) north-east of Cambridge via A10; 3 miles (4.8km) west of Soham, and south of Wicken just off A1123; 9 miles (14.4km) south of Ely. Parking on Lode Lane (free for National Trust members)
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