Size: 420 acres (170ha)
Restoration began: 2011
Kester’s Docking lies east of Rymes Reedbed and was previously 12 fields farmed as part of Holme Lode farm. It is bounded on the north by Black Ham drain and on the south by the minor road running from Holme Fen to Engine Farm. This road is part of the Last of the Meres trail linking Kester's Docking with other areas in the northern part of the project area.
The name Kester's Docking is shown on an old map of Whittlesea Mere. Kester’s Docking lay on the western edge of the mere and presumably referred to a landing area with traditional rights owned by one, Kester.
After the area was acquired by the Great Fen the fields were sown as species-poor grassland, in order to improve soil condition and structure. Physical and ecological studies indicated that Kester’s Docking would be most suited to a mixture of reedbed, open water, and wet and dry grassland integrating with the adjacent Rymes Reedbed. This mixture of habitats would create an area of land that should encourage a range of wildlife including target species such as Bittern and Water Vole. There will be opportunities to create a public hide near the road, which will give views to the north across both Kester’s Docking and Rymes Reedbed.
The aim of the restoration is to create multiple habitats within the area, including:
Work began to create shallow scrapes, grips and pools during the Winter of 2014 into 2015.
Aerial View of Kesters 2016
Owing to some periods of heavy rainfall during the Winter, water was holding really well but it was too wet to allow the heavy machinery onto the fields, therefore the sluice boards in the water control structures that had been installed to hold water within the section, had to be raised to drain the standing water away. It was then unfortunate that once the work was complete we had very little rain to refill them again.
As there was a little money left in the budget to carry out some extra work, a ditch adjacent to a small wooded area was reprofiled which entailed reducing the gradient of the banks i.e. making them less ‘V’ shaped and creating areas where water can spill out onto the land when it is high enough.
The whole of Kester’s Docking was then left to allow vegetation to establish. It is likely that grazing across the whole site will once again be able to commence during summer 2016.
Grazing livestock is a useful method of controlling vegetation such as invasive plant species and the movement of the stock when they feed, and drink from the pools and channels, will create variation in the marginal areas for plant and invertebrate species, by creating micro-habitats.
Kester's Docking - 2011
Kester's Docking - January 2016
You can read details about the design and ecological planning process for the new wetland and reedbed areas. The design and supervision of the construction was put out to tender and the Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust (Consulting) Ltd were contracted, having produced the concept plan shown below. A planning application was submitted to the Local Authority (Huntingdonshire District Council) in May and this was approved in July 2014, with construction work starting in the autumn of 2014. Re-wetting will be phased over 3-5 years to allow peat and soils to maintain/develop structure. This work is being made possible by the Heritage Lottery Fund, WREN, Environment Agency, and WREN Biodiversity Action Fund. See also Funded Projects.
The area can be located on this map of the Great Fen.