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Wicken Windmill and Fens

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Wicken Windmill and Fens
Author: clairesharpuk, Published: 26 May 2012 Walk rating : Rating:star1 iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UKstar1 iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UKstar1 iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UKstar1 iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UKstar0 iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UK
Cambridgeshire, Cambridgeshire Fens
Walk Type: River or lakeside
Wicken Windmill and Fens
Length: 3 miles,  Difficulty: boot iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UK
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A 3 mile circular walk from the Cambridgeshire village of Wicken. The walk leaves the village through farmland to head south through a beautiful area of fenland with waterways, reedbeds and great views over flat open stretches of protected wildlife habitat.

As you would expect through the fens, the walk is almost entirely flat. There are no stiles and just one kissing gate. The paths are a mixture of stone, tarmac and firm dirt tracks some of which can get muddy in the winter/after heavy rain. Approximate time 1 to 1.5 hours.

The walk starts from the small car park in front of Wicken Village Hall, which is just off the High Street (A1123) on Pond Green. Approximate post code CB7 5XR.

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Walk Sections

Village Hall to Fields
Village Hall to Fields

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With your back to the village hall turn left and follow the pavement running alongside the A1123, passing the war memorial on the left. As the pavement ends on the left of the road, cross over to continue.

Over to the left is the village green surrounded by a ring of properties. The wide range of styles here is typical of the whole village – from pretty thatched white washed cottages to elegant stone houses.

Continue past The Maids Head public house on the left and past the village sign on the right – a yellow butterfly depicted in ironwork. A few paces later turn right at Cross Green, marked with a green public footpath sign. Follow this narrow lane as it swings to the right between properties and then becomes a stone and grass track to reach the corner of an arable field.

Fields to Adventurer's Fen
Fields to Adventurer's Fen

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Continue straight ahead on the stone path between crop fields. If you look back over your right shoulder you will see a beautiful view of the Wicken Windmill which you will walk past again later.

At the end of the path, ignore the first footbridge to the left, and instead continue ahead to cross the second footbridge into Adventurer’s Fen.

Adventurer's Fen to Water Pumping Windmill
Adventurer's Fen to Water Pumping Windmill

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After crossing the bridge, turn right onto the narrow stone track running alongside the waterway to your right. Follow the path to reach a grass triangle marking a T-junction with another path. Turn right here and follow the path over a narrow footbridge marked as part of the National Cycle Network.

Continue ahead on the gravel path with the water still to your right. On the opposite bank on the right is St Edmund’s Fen and over to the left is Adventurer’s Fen.

The waterway running to the right is called Monk’s Lode. A ‘Lode’ is the name given to the series of man-made waterways across the fens, believed to be Roman in origin. The waterway is brimming with wildlife, lined with reed beds and packed with fish and insects.

Follow the path alongside Monk’s Lode for some distance, then follow the main gravel track as it bends right over a low wide bridge across the waterway and then bends left to follow the waterway now on the left. A few paces later follow the path as it swings hard right and you’ll see a stainless steel water pumping windmill on the opposite bank.

Water Pumping Windmill to Back Lane
Water Pumping Windmill to Back Lane

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On the left now is the waterway called Wicken Lode and beyond it is the Wicken Fen Nature Reserve.

A few paces later on the right you’ll find a National Trust information board which explains the workings and restoration of the fens. The wind pump brings much needed calcium-rich water to the fens, restoring the water balance and helping the plants to survive.

Continue straight ahead for some distance and eventually on the left you’ll pass the range of wooden structures, including a thatched boathouse, of the Wicken Fen Visitor Centre.

You may wish to take a detour to explore this site which is managed by the National Trust – entrance charges apply. Wicken Fen is considered to be one of the most important wetland nature reserves in Western Europe. It represents a landscape from the past, one of the last remnants of un-drained fenland in East Anglia and a haven for many rare wetland plants, animals and birds. It was also one of the first properties acquired by the National Trust, with two acres bought for £10 in 1899.

Continue straight ahead up the tarmac lane. On the right you will pass the Dragonfly Centre (open at weekends in the summer) which is run by volunteers and gives you chance to learn more about these elusive creatures. The centre is housed in a restored fenman’s cottage.

Follow the tarmac lane until you reach the turning on the right for Back Lane (before you reach the T-junction with the main road).

Back Lane to End
Back Lane to End

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Turn right onto Back Lane, marked with a Public Byway sign. Follow this quiet residential lane and continue ahead as it dwindles to become a grass path running behind the properties on the left.

After some distance you will pass by the back of the windmill, towering above you on the left hand side. A few paces further along, pass through a wooden kissing gate to continue on the path running along the top of a crop field.

You will soon come to a T-junction with the stone track that you passed along earlier in the walk . Turn left onto the track, heading back towards the village. At the T-junction with the main village road turn left and retrace your steps to reach the village hall car park.

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Text and images for this walk are Copyright © 2012 by the author clairesharpuk and may not be reproduced without permission.


1 responses to "Wicken Windmill and Fens"

The walk features an old and a new windmill they are both lovely structures.

By richard on 2012-05-31 12:18:10

The information in this guide has been provided in good faith and is intended only as a guide, not a statement of fact. You are advised to check the accuracy of the information provided and should not use this guide for navigational directions nor should you rely on the accuracy of the weather forecast. You are advised to take appropriate clothing, footwear, equipment and navigational materials with you according to the current and possible weather and nature of the terrain. Always follow the country code and follow any additional warnings or instructions that may be available. Some walks may be very strenuous and you are advised to seek medical advice if you have any doubts as to your capability to complete the walk.

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