The path begins at the Great Fen Information Point and follows the Dragonfly Trail round to the proposed site of a future visitor centre. It then leaves this trail and skirts around Old Decoy. Next it follows the River Nene round to the historic Engine Farm then joins the road, passing by the turn to Froghall and then down to Holme Fen. Lastly the route follows the old railway line back to rejoin the Dragonfly Trail at the Great Fen Information Point.
The length of the trail is approximately 6.5 miles
Dogs are welcome but must be on leads and under close control at all times due to livestock grazing throughout the year.
There is parking available at the Great Fen Information Point
Contact us for more information
*Please note that this trail is closed at the moment due to the New Decoy Works*
The Last of the Meres trail is a circular walk connecting the northern parts of the Great Fen. It extends from newly restored areas at New Decoy Farm to the historic site of Engine Farm, through to the woodland of Holme Fen and back via the old Holme-to-Ramsey railway line. The route also crosses the former site of Whittlesea Mere, the largest lowland lake south of the Lake District before it was drained in 1851. There is a lot of detailed information here about the last of the Fenland meres to be drained.
The route follows new paths in the northern section of the Great Fen project area. It is 6.5 miles in length and is a circular walk, taking approximately 4 hours to complete. Please note that at Engine Farm, where there is an automated locking gate on the bridge. This allows passage across the dyke from 8am to 4pm in winter and 8am - 8pm in summer, so please leave yourself plenty of time and take into account the daylight variation with the year's seasonal changes.
There are waymarkers for the Last of the Meres trail (see image right) and these lead you in an anticlockwise direction around the trail. Please report any footpath problems to Louise Rackham, Great Fen Education and Community Manager.
The map below gives a rough outline of the route (marked in red, with start / finish identified by red circle). For a more detailed route we suggest you refer to Ordnance Survey Explorer Map 227.
Reproduced by permission of Ordnance Survey on behalf of HMSO. © Crown Copyright. All rights reserved.
This trail allows walkers to experience the mosaic of different habitats that are being maintained and restored by the Great Fen.
1. The trail starts at the Great Fen Information Point. In 2010, restoration began on the fields in front of the Information Point and these are already becoming wet meadows. Species highlights here include flocks of linnets and goldfinches during the winter, as well as an array of dragonflies, butterflies and moths around the Dragonfly Trail in the summer.
2. As you move towards the boundary between Old Decoy and Engine Farms you begin to approach what would have been the edge of Whittlesea Mere and you will notice the change beneath your feet as sandy and calcareous soil becomes more apparent. The bottom of the Mere was covered with a thick layer of white shell marl (decomposed remains of freshwater shells) laid down during the centuries over the lower alternate layers of clay and peat. In places, shells are still visable on the soil surface today.
3. The trail leads up to the bank of the Old River Nene. As you follow it round towards Engine Farm, pause at a new chainsaw-carved bench located on a viewing mound and overlooking newly constructed newt ponds installed by Froglife in 2015.
4. When Whittlesea Mere was drained 17 stone blocks were recovered. They had presumably been on their way from the quarries at Barnack to Ramsey Abbey, being carried on a barge that overturned. Four of the blocks can still be seen at Engine Farm today. Also look out for information on Whittlesea Mere and how this distinctive landscape feature influenced the culture and heritage in this part of the fens.
5. The northern section of the trail uses the minor road from Engine Farm to Tower Farm and this provides great views to the right acrossthe area known as Kester's Docking. Major habitat creation is under way here. Already the area has become very rich for birds of prey in the winter. Look out particularly for Short-eared Owls.
6. After a section of road running south between land that is still being farmed the trail passes through the eastern part of Holme Fen NNR. If you have energy it is easy to follow various rides off into this rich birdh woodland.
7. Finally the trail cuts across the disused railway line, through Railway Covert and New Decoy Farm, rejoining the Dragonfly Trail and back to the Great Fen Information Point
All around this trail keep an eye out for an array of wildlife including Water Voles, birds of prey, dragonflies and rare plants. There is something for everyone!
Why not download the new Great Fen App and enjoy an array of audio, film and fascinating information as you walk the Last of the Meres trail.