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Wicken Fen Vision

Tall reeds (Phragmites australis) against a blue sky at Wicken Fen National Nature Reserve, Cambridgeshire.
Tall reeds at Wicken Fen | © National Trust Images/Paul Harris

The Wicken Fen Vision is an ambitious plan for the next 100 years to create a diverse landscape for wildlife and people stretching from Wicken Fen to the edge of Cambridge. Find out how we plan to care for this rich oasis of wildlife, with more than 9,300 species recorded as living in this unique and special landscape.

Why we needed a plan for Wicken Fen

Less than 1 per cent of original fen survives in East Anglia, of which Wicken Fen is a fragment. Despite growing to 358 hectares (885 acres) by the end of the 20th century, the nature reserve was too small and isolated to guarantee the survival of all its rare and numerous species. It was also under pressure from the increasing number of people seeking its peace and tranquillity.

The Wicken Fen Vision

Launched in 1999, the Wicken Fen Vision is a 100-year plan to create a diverse landscape for wildlife and people; a historic landscape that will provide space in the modern world to breathe, think and explore.

By 2099, we will increase the nature reserve around Wicken Fen to an area of 53 square kilometres – an exciting and pioneering plan to take it into the next millennium.

An azure damselfly at Wicken Fen National Nature Reserve, Cambridgeshire.
An azure damselfly | © National Trust Images/Rob Coleman

Habitats and wildlife

To create an extensive landscape for wildlife that is sustainable and adaptable we will:

  • extend the Wicken Fen nature reserve, allowing wildlife to thrive and move across a fen landscape

  • acquire land in areas with potential for habitat creation and public access

  • expand our grazing herds

  • record and conserve important wildlife and landscape features.


Grazing animals are essential to influence the developing vegetation in the fen landscape. At Wicken Fen, family groups of Konik ponies and Highland cattle range freely over large areas. They live on the land all year with minimal human interference.


To provide a beautiful natural environment for the enjoyment, learning and recreation of everyone we will:

  • inspire and connect people with nature, conservation and the landscape

  • deliver access and recreation opportunities that link with local communities

  • provide opportunities for learning and volunteering

  • protect the landscape and challenge decisions that may put our vision at risk.

Lodes Way

The Lodes Way is an 8-mile cycleway and footpath between Wicken Fen and Anglesey Abbey which forms part of the National Cycle Network route 11. Cyclists and walkers share the cycleway, and horse riders can use the grass track that runs alongside it. The construction of the cycleway involved building two bridges across the Lode waterways.

Visitors looking at maps of Wicken Fen National Nature Reserve, Cambridgeshire.
Visitors looking at maps of Wicken Fen | © National Trust Images/John Miller


To learn continually from our experience and communicate our findings to a wide audience we will:

  • monitor our progress and share our understanding of landscape-scale conservation

  • contribute to research on climate change and ecosystem services

  • use our findings to inform decision makers

  • communicate our research to tell Wicken Fen’s story to everyone.

Victorian naturalists

Wicken Fen was a favourite destination in the 19th century with the rise in popularity of natural history in the Victorian era. Wicken villagers supplemented their income by guiding visitors to the best collecting spots.

A close relationship with Cambridge University was established that continues to this day.

Sustainable economy

To stimulate a diverse and thriving local economy focused on the natural environment we will:

  • look at business activities sympathetic to the wildlife and landscape

  • work in partnership to develop a sustainable tourist economy

  • showcase ecosystem services

  • protect the area’s natural resources and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Wicken Fen visitor centre

The Wicken Fen visitor centre welcomes over 65,000 visitors each year. The centre offers a wealth of opportunities for visitors to engage with and learn about the landscape. Hiring bicycles, guiding boat trips and running a ‘back to basics’ campsite are some of the ways we do this. At the same time these activities generate income to support the conservation of Wicken Fen.

Visitors cycling at Wicken Fen National Nature Reserve, Cambridgeshire
Why not explore the nature reserve on two wheels? | © National Trust Images/John Miller

The first chapter of the Wicken Fen Vision

  • 446 hectares of land purchased

  • Over 5,000 wintering waterfowl using this new habitat

  • 6 cranes using this new habitat

  • 48km of public access created or improved

  • 2 bridges built

  • 'Back to basics' campsite established

  • 65,000 people to the visitor centre each year (many more using the access network)

  • 100 Konik ponies grazing

  • Lodes Way linked to National Cycle Network

  • Cycle hire opened

The Vision continues

After 20 years the need for the Vision is greater than ever before, with demands on our environment continuing to increase. The Wicken Fen Vision will deliver on a landscape scale to give nature the space it needs. It will continue to expand to create a healthy and beautiful natural environment that is bigger, better and more joined up for both wildlife and people.

We’re writing the next chapter in the story of a landscape that has evolved over centuries and we’d like you to be a part of this. Whether you’re a walker, farmer, cyclist, horse rider or birdwatcher; a volunteer, National Trust member, visitor or supporter; a councillor, business owner, teacher or community leader: whoever you are, you’re invited to be part of the Wicken Fen Vision.

Visitors cycling at Wicken Fen National Nature Reserve, Cambridgeshire


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Discover how we’re connecting the communities near Wicken Fen with nature and heritage as part of the Footprints project, thanks to a National Lottery Heritage Fund grant.

Konik ponies grazing at Wicken Fen National Nature Reserve, Cambridgeshire

Our work at Wicken Fen 

Learn about some of the work we carry out at Wicken Fen Nature Reserve throughout the year to conserve this important landscape for visitors, plants and animals alike.

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The history of Wicken Fen 

We’ve cared for Wicken Fen National Nature Reserve for over 120 years. Discover its history and how we continue to look after this very special place.

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Wildlife at Wicken Fen 

Wicken Fen was the first nature reserve to be managed by the National Trust. Today it’s one of Europe's most important wetlands and home to over 9,000 species.

Members of a family take part in pond dipping at Wicken Fen National Nature Reserve, Cambridgeshire

Family-friendly things to do at Wicken Fen 

If outdoor activities and learning about nature sound like a good day out for your family, Wicken Fen is the right place for you. Discover everything you need to plan your family day out, from events and activities for kids to hiring bikes.

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Our cause 

We believe that nature, beauty and history are for everyone. That’s why we’re supporting wildlife, protecting historic sites and more. Find out about our work.