The Information Point is beside the B660 road, known locally as Long Drove. It is east of the A1 and the busy level crossing at Holme village. Watch for brown tourist signs for 'The Great Fen".
Starting your first visit to the Great Fen and getting an overview of the scale of the project. A good place to get the feel of the area and to take either a short walk or a much longer one, through previous farmland that is being restored.
The meadows are grazed by cattle for much of the year but they are constrained by electric and other fences. It is important that dogs are kept under close control.
There is a car park edged by large pieces of bog oak that were unearthed during construction work.
Blue badge holder parking: There are designated spaces.
Contact us for more information
Located at the heart of the Great Fen area, this is a great place to start your visit and get your bearings. There are maps and information and you can take a short walk past ponds, wet meadows and trees, to an unusual bird hide. Alternatively you can walk a much longer waymarked path - the Last of the Meres Trail, linking many of the areas that are under restoration.
If you arrive by vehicle, as you step out you will immediately appreciate the vast flat landscape under a huge fenland sky. There are woods in the distance: to the northwest is Holme Fen and away to the south is Woodwalton Fen, both National Nature Reserves and two of the last surviving fragments of the wild, uncultivated fens. The whole area between the two woods and much more beyond them is now the designated Great Fen area. Some of this land is under restoration, while other parts are still being farmed.
In 2010, restoration began on the fields in front of the Information Point and these are already becoming wet meadows. This land was previously part of New Decoy Farm and the remaining farm buildings can be seen to the northeast, right of the bird hide. These buildings are where, in a few years' time the new Visitor Centre will be built. (Details of the design of the Visitor Centre are here.)
Livestock will be grazing throughout the year so dogs are welcome but must be on a lead and under close control at all times.
There is a waymarked trail through the reserve: please see the map page for more information and be aware that the path can be muddy and uneven.
The trail leaves the Information Point and skirts the wet meadows to a wooded area known as Railway Covert, where it crosses the track of the branch line that once ran from Holme to Ramsey. As well as a small patch of mature woodland there is a young plantation of native trees screening the entrance to the bird hide, which has been constructed from locally sourced materials, in particular straw bales. The hide is now known as Jon's Hide in memory of Jon Smith, the Great Fen Restoration Officer who was responsible for its creation. (A video showing the construction of the straw-bale hide is here.)
There are picnic benches in the woodland and the circular walk then continues past the New Decoy Farm buildings and back to the carpark.
Near the carpark are the remains of Halfway Farm - presumably marking the halfway point along Long Drove between Holme village and Ramsey St Mary. There is a well and an old walnut tree which remained when Halfway Farm bungalow was demolished some 20 or 30 years ago. Several generations of the Robinson family farmed the land here and the new ponds have been named in their memory.
New Decoy Farm is just south of the site of the 'Holme Decoy', a star-shaped pond surrounded by trees, that was used to lure and kill ducks and wildfowl. The pond can just be seen on a 1824 map, but is very vague on the 1890 map.
The railway line from Holme to Ramsey was built in 1867 and ran for just over 100 years until 1972. Its course can easily be traced on this aerial image. The track was mainly used to transport goods, taking agricultural produce across to the main north-south railway line at Holme. Before the railway was built, several of the farms in the Woodwalton area laid short tramways, as a means of moving produce over the light peat soils to the main drains or dykes. Then barges were used for transport onwards or to the dock alongside the mainline railway at Holme Station.
The branch line was only 5 miles long and the journey took just 9 minutes. There were hand-operated level crossings on the B660 and also the minor road that runs north into Holme Fen. In both cases cottages were built for the crossing keepers and the buildings are still present today.
The picture shows the last train, with a diesel locomotive, leaving Ramsey in 1972.
During the winter, flocks of Siskin, Redpoll and Goldfinch feed in the trees behind Jon's Hide and frequently come to the feeders there. They also feed on the seeds of thistles and mugwort that line the paths around the reserve.
An unusual bird that you could see around the Information Point is the Corn Bunting. This is a rather chunky "little brown job", with a song often likened to a bunch of jangling keys. In spring and summer watch for it singing from any prominent point. The species is declining across the whole of Europe and is a red-listed bird of conservation concern in the UK, although fenland is one of its main strongholds.
As restoration work continues the wet meadows should be attractive to breeding waders and flocks of wintering wildfowl in winter. In summer there will be dragonflies around the ponds and in the ditches along the trail. Butterflies, moths and other insects will be frequent through the whole site.
Fixed Point Photography is being used to monitor vegetation changes: please click below for specific panoramic views.
FPP 22A From the B660 looking north towards New Decoy Farm buildings.
FPP 23 From the Straw Bale hide looking south.
FPP 24 Vegetation around the hide.
FPP 25 Looking south east across the fields towards the information point.
See also Wildlife Sightings for recent birds, other animals and plants.
This is nearest Great Fen reserve. By car, turn right out of the carpark and take the first minor road on the right. Alternatively it is possible to reach Holme Fen using the Last of the Meres Trail (following it in the clockwise direction). There is more information about this National Nature Reserve on the Visit Holme Fen page.
The other National Nature Reserve, Woodwalton Fen is not far away. Turn left out of the carpark, turn right at the T-junction at Ramsey St Mary's and two miles further take another right into Chapel Road. Take a look at the Visit Woodwalton Fen page for more information.
Set in a Wildlife Trust Nature Reserve, the centre is in Chapel Road before you get to Woodwalton Fen. More details are on the Visit the Wildlife Trust Countryside Centre page.
These areas are currently accessible from Woodwalton Fen. Take a look at the Visit Middle and Darlow's Farm page for more details.