|Site of Special Scientific Interest|
|Area of Search||Cambridgeshire|
|Location map||Magic Map|
|Official name||Ouse Washes|
|Designated||5 January 1976|
Ouse Washes is a linear 2,513.6 hectare biological Site of Special Scientific Interest stretching from near St Ives in Cambridgeshire to Downham Market in Norfolk. It is also a Ramsar internationally important wetland site, a Special Protection Area under the European Union Birds Directive, a Special Area of Conservation, and a Nature Conservation Review site, Grade I. An area of 186 hectares between March and Ely is managed by the Wildlife Trust for Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Northamptonshire, and another area near Chatteris is managed by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds. The Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust manages another area near Welney.
The site lies between the Old Bedford River in the north-west and the New Bedford River in the south-east. The Washes are a flood storage area and are often under water in the winter. It is internationally significant for wintering and breeding wildfowl and waders, especially teal, pintail, wigeon, shoveler, pochard and Bewick's swans. The site also has rich aquatic fauna and flora, and areas of unimproved grassland.
In 1630, King Charles I granted a drainage charter to the 4th Earl of Bedford, who constructed the Old Bedford River between Earith and Downham Market to facilitate drainage of the Bedford Level. The Dutch engineer Cornelius Vermuyden was engaged in 1649 to complete the project and constructed the New Bedford River parallel to the old. The area between the rivers is 20 miles (32 km) long and almost a mile wide and acts as washland, i.e. a floodplain during the winter and, increasingly, also in summer. When they are flooded this causes a 30-mile (48 km) detour for local residents.
RSPB Ouse Washes
RSPB Ouse Washes is a nature reserve, managed by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds at Welches Dam. It is signposted from Manea village which is 6 miles (9.7 km) east of Chatteris on the A142/A141 between Ely and March. The visitor centre is open 9am to 5pm daily except Christmas Day and Boxing Day.
WWT Welney Wetland Centre
WWT Welney Wetland Centre is one of nine wildfowl and wetland reserves managed by the Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust. The reserve is at Welney in Norfolk, 12 miles (19 km) north of Ely, 26 miles (42 km) north of Cambridge and 33 miles (53 km) east of Peterborough. The eco-friendly visitor centre features exhibits about the natural history and culture of The Fens and its inhabitants, an art gallery, gift shop and café. Activities include nature programs, pond dipping, trails and hides. The centre received 29,372 visitors in 2018.
Ouse Washes Landscape Partnership
The Ouse Washes Landscape Partnership scheme (OWLP) is a 3-year project supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund which runs from 2014 - 2017. The scheme focuses on the promotion of the area surrounding the Ouse Washes, the heart of the Cambridgeshire and Norfolk Fens, and on encouraging community engagement with the area's diverse heritage.
- "Designated Sites View: Ouse Washes". Sites of Special Scientific Interest. Natural England. Retrieved 13 December 2016.
- "Ouse Washes". Ramsar Sites Information Service. Retrieved 25 April 2018.
- "Map of Ouse Washes". Sites of Special Scientific Interest. Natural England. Retrieved 13 December 2016.
- "Information Sheet on Ramsar Wetlands (RIS): Ouse Washes" (PDF). Joint Nature Conservation Committee. Retrieved 13 December 2016.
- "Special Protection Areas under the EC Birds Directive: Ouse Washes" (PDF). Joint Nature Conservation Committee. Retrieved 13 December 2016.
- "Ouse Washes SAC". Joint Nature Conservation Committee. Retrieved 13 December 2016.
- Ratcliffe, Derek, ed. (1977). A Nature Conservation Review. 2. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. p. 138. ISBN 0521 21403 3.
- "Ouse Washes". Wildlife Trust for Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Northamptonshire. Retrieved 1 December 2016.
- "Ouse Washes". Royal Society for the Protection of Birds. Retrieved 13 December 2016.
- "Welney Wetland Centre". Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust. Retrieved 13 December 2016.
- "Ouse Washes citation" (PDF). Sites of Special Scientific Interest. Natural England. Retrieved 13 December 2016.
- "ALVA - Association of Leading Visitor Attractions". www.alva.org.uk. Retrieved 9 October 2019.
- "Ouse Washes - Landscape PartnershipOuse Washes".
- Saul, A.J., ed. (1992). "Washland Management in the Ouse Washes Conservation Area". Floods and Flood Management. Fluid Mechanics and its Applications. 15. Springer. pp. 69–89. doi:10.1007/978-94-011-1630-5_5. ISBN 978-94-011-1630-5.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Ouse Washes.|
- RSPB Ouse Washes
- WWT Welney
- SPA designation
- Accelerated collaboration and visiualisation to understand the Ouse Washes
- Ouse Washes Landscape Partnership
- The Ouse Washes Website