Fen Rivers Way
|Fen Rivers Way|
King's Lynn lies at a trailhead
|Length||80 km (50 mi)|
|Location||Eastern England, United Kingdom|
King's Lynn, Norfolk
The Fen Rivers Way is a long distance footpath that spans a distance of 50 miles (80 kilometres). The path runs between the City of Cambridge and the town of King's Lynn in West Norfolk. It follows the course of many rivers that drain slowly across the fenland landscape into the Wash. It provides a small part of European Long Distance Path E2 which goes from Nice to Galway.
The Fenland landscape is a man made environment constructed over many centuries. This fertile land is dominated by agriculture and is dissected by dykes, draining ditches, rivers and embankments. Walkers cannot fail to be impressed by the Fenlands vast open landscape and vast skies that give the Fens their unique character. The walk along this footpath is rich in both history and wildlife. The Fen Rivers Way is ideal for a two-day trip, with camp sites or bed and breakfast stays en route. Also, there is excellent public transport for the return journey.
Starting from Cambridge the route follows the River Cam with its banks and pastures fringed with weeping willow trees and out into the fens. The Cam Washes have been designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest because of their rare and special habitats and wildlife. Within this SSSI, Otters Lutra lutra can sometimes be seen. Approximately 17 miles North East of Cambridge is Wicken Fen National Nature Reserve, where walkers will pass through the remains of a fascinating fragment of a Fenland wilderness of former times. Wicken Fen was the first Nature Reserve to be owned by the National Trust and has been in their care since 1899. Wicken Fen is a haven for birds, plants, insects and mammals. It can be explored by the traditional wide droves and lush green paths, including a boardwalk nature trail, giving access to several hides. Next walkers approach the city of Ely. Ely's magnificent cathedral and ancient city dominate the skyline for miles around. At Ely the River Cam joins the River Great Ouse. The walk now enters the county of Norfolk.
The many tributaries to the Great Ouse are now contained by massive flood banks and from these banks wonderful panoramic views of the surrounding countryside can be seen. Denver Sluice, being at the confluence of five watercourses, was first built across the river in 1651 as a focus of the flood defence system that protects the low lying Fens although it had to be rebuilt after bursting in 1713. Since Roman times, man had battled to keep the water at bay, but it was not until the 17th century that systematic drainage commenced. Dutch engineers, notably Cornelius Vermuyden, were commissioned to undertake grand schemes which still form the basis of the modern drainage system. Nearby Denver Windmill is a fully restored 19th century windmill, and lies on the path of the Roman Fen Causeway. The Ouse Washes are an internationally significant environment. Flooded in winter, they attract thousands of migrating wildfowl. From Denver the river is tidal, bringing with it subtle changes in scenery and habitat. Close by is the Relief Channel, the final link in the drainage system, completed in 1964. The two waterways meet at King's Lynn, the historic port on the edge of the Wash where the footpath ends.
The Way markings
The route is marked with a small circular badge with a blue eel logo.
There are four smaller circular walks along the Fen Rivers way.
- Wicken Fen Walk
- Baits Bite Walk
- Fenland Village Walk
- The Cutters Walk