Thinking of a first visit?

If you are considering a visit to Lakenheath Fen, this is a short film of some species I encountered recently.
  • Excellent film, especially the Kingfisher and the butterflies too. Thanks very much for sharing.

  • In reply to Abhay S:

    Brilliant video, and great footage of the Kingfisher

  • In reply to Debs:

    My visit to Lakenheath Fen was poor.

    A nice day, so I decided to cycle there(25 miles or so from Cambridge.)

    Naturally, one approaches the reserve from the west by bike from Cambridge, so that's what I did. Big mistake. The path from Sedge Fen/ Botany bay is almost impassable/ overgrown. Legs lacreatied by thistle and reed.

    On entering the reserve proper, I was met by a very freindly RSPB  staff member, in an enormous 4x4, who told me I could not follow the track she'd just roared down, as I might disturb wildlife. The irony was clearly lost on her, but I happily walked my bike as advised along the alternative riverside path. And glad I did as it is a fabulous walk.

    The riverside path really is wonderful, though looks like its rarely used at that western end, as pretty overgrown/ impassable (certainly for one walking with a bicycle).

    Great to see marsh harriers and kingfishers, and I heard the cranes, beyond the bank on the Norfolk side, but couldn't see them.

    Finally I reached the visitor's centre where I was met by a lovely and very interesting volunteer who kindly told me what was about birdwise, but nontheless made me feel rather low down on the pecking order for having arrived by bicycle, by telling me 'no bikes allowed'.

    I pointed out how odd it was that a couple of acres out the front are devoted to ******* car parking and yet he was upset by an old duffer arriving on a bicycle.

    But, this is the UK - where we have our transport priorities completletly A bout T, so I expected not better from the guy.

    Must admit, as I left, dodging the idiotically driven Volvos in the car park outside, I came away with a feeling that sustainable access to RSPB reserves is something of an afterthought - what a shame and lost opportunity.

  • In reply to Glow worm:

    Hello there,

    We are sorry to hear that you did not have the best visit to the reserve. I will pass your comments and suggestions on to the reserve staff.

    Regards,

    David White

    Communications Officer

  • In reply to David White:

    I'm sorry that your visit to the reserve in general was poor, but I'm glad you seemed to enjoy your walk along the riverbank.  It is rather a good walk, with good views both onto the reserve and to the land in Norfolk, as well as having many butterflies and dragonflies to see.

    You do raise some very valid points.  The path through Botany Bay is very overgrown, and is something that we shall be rectifying in the next couple of weeks.  Part of the reason it is a bit overgrown at the moment is that there is a particular plant along there, called common meadow rue, which is the foodplant of a rare moth called the marsh carpet moth.  Currently there are lots of marsh carpet moth larvae on the meadow rue, which we didn't want to mash, so have left it for the time being.  We will, however, try to clear some of the thistles and nettles soon so that it is a little more people friendly.  The rest of the Public Footpath east towards the visitor centre was actually mown the day after your visit.

    I was that 'very friendly staff member' who came and talked to you!  The reason we have an 'enormous 4x4' is so we can get around the reserve with the kit needed for carrying out management work (such as brushcutters to strim paths), and most of our tracks are impossible to access with normal cars.  We keep the whole of the western half of the reserve as disturbance free as we can, to allow wildlife to get on with things in relative peace.  We find that overall, wildlife is less disturbed by a vehicle than by people on foot or by bike.

    We have always had a no bikes policy on the reserve, mostly because the reserve trails are a mixture of grass paths and tracks that are less than smooth, and unsuitable for biking on.

    I agree with your comments re green travel, it is something that we need to improve.  There are various options including arriving by train (on a weekend) or by the bookable Brecks bus service, which we do promote, both on our website and on reserve leaflets, but I agree we could do better.  

    One final note is that we are always happy to talk to people prior to visiting the reserve. If you phone us beforehand, we can help you plan your visit and advise on the state of the paths!  

    Thanks again for your feedback and we hope to see you on the reserve again soon!  

    Katherine Puttick

    Warden

  • In reply to Katherine:

    Hi-  am I right in thinking some of the reserve paths are public footpaths so pushing a bike along them would not be a problem?

    S

    For advice about Birding, Identification,field guides,  binoculars, scopes, tripods,  etc - put 'Birding Tips'   into the search box

  • In reply to seymouraves:

    Hi, yes the path that runs along the reserves northern boundary alongside the river is a Public Footpath, so if you wanted to push your bike along it you can.  There are several kissing gates to negotiate, and cattle graze part of the riverbank, so there are some rutted areas.  There are bicycle racks (which we are considering moving closer to the visitor centre) in the car park should you wish to leave your bike there.

    Cheers,

    Katherine

    Warden

  • In reply to Glow worm:

    G M,

    If you approach via road skirting the south and Lakenheath village access is fine. Upon arrival there is plenty of space to leave your bike either in the car park or by the visitors centre, to then explore the reserve on foot.

    I have done this several times.

    I have also walked to the reserve along the path that follows the Little Ouse from both Brandon and also to the west past botany bay. This is really overgrown from around April onwards away from the stretch adjacent to the reserve e.g. to the west beyond Joist Fen.

    It is worth pointing out that this has nothing to do with the RSPB (unless I am told otherwise) and is managed by the Environment Agency, who also undertake the management and clearance of the embankment.

    I find the exact opposite to yourself Lakenheath Fen is a great destination to cycle too! Assuming once you arrive you then explore on foot as I consider is best to soak up all the wildlife.

    I think your issues are with the wider world as opposed to this Lakenheath reserve per se.

    Anyway, happy cycling and happy birding.

    Jonny

  • In reply to Katherine:

    Hi Jonny,

    Many thanks for your reply - much appreciated. The RSPB staff I met were brilliant and I couldnt ask for more.

    I loved the reserve and will definately go back. I will go from Brandon station though next time and leave my bike at the VC. The last thing we want is people buzzing around the reserve on bikes and my plan was to walk my bike through it not knowing the stricly no bike policy.

    Katherine of the reserve very lindly took the time to email me which was very kind of her.

    I've done a lot of cycling in Holland where its a real joy to get to places by bike - here its often one enormous challenge and I agree that's not the RSPB's fault - I was a little harsh there and to their credit there are bike racks at the eastern end.

    All the best

    G.