Britiain’s oldest nature reserve, Wicken Fen, set to be joined to second reserve at Woodwalton

Wicken Fen

Wicken Fen - Credit: Archant

Britain’s two oldest nature reserves – Wicken Fen and Woodwalton Fen – are to be linked by a new long-distance footpath commemorating a pioneering naturalist.

The joint history of the two reserves is marked in the new name of the 36-mile stretch of footpath – The Rothschild Way.

On June 28 a band of intrepid explorers from the Wildlife Trust’s Great Fen Local Group will walk the newly recognised route for the first time – starting at Wicken Fen and finishing at the iconic Rothschild Bungalow, in Woodwalton National Nature Reserve.

They hope to raise £2,000 for the Great Fen with this inaugural walk.

In 1899, aged just 22, the banker, philanthropist and insect expert Charles Rothschild purchased Wicken Fen – and presented it to the National Trust - to safeguard one of the last remnants of unspoilt fenland habitat.

In 1910 he secured the future of a second patch of unspoilt fenland at Woodwalton Fen, near Ramsey, Hunts. He bought it as his own personal reserve and built the Rothschild Bungalow – a base for his insect collecting expeditions.

His work to protect these special places of wildlife value started the conservation movement in the UK as he drew up a list of 284 threatened wildlife havens and set up the Society for the Promotion of Nature Reserves to go about protecting them.

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Dr Adrian Kempster, Chairman of the Wildlife Trust’s Great Fen Local Group and walk leader, said, “We are hoping that people will walk the way for various reasons but also to generate funds for the conservation organisations who are working to continue Rothschild’s legacy at these two very special fenland nature reserves.”

“We will be publicising this footpath both locally and nationally and eventually aim to have it marked as a route on Ordinance Survey maps.”

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