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Cambridgeshire Walk
Fen Drayton Nature Reserve walk

County/Area - Cambridgeshire

Author - Peter Smyly

Length - 4.6 miles / 7.5 km

Ascent - 100 feet / 30 metres

Time - 2 hours 20 minutes

Grade - easy

Start - OS grid reference TL342695
Lat 52.307224 // Long -0.033052
Postcode CB24 4TE (approx. location only)
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Walk Route Description

Photo from the walk - Fen Drayton Nature Reserve walk
Photo from the walk - Fen Drayton Nature Reserve walk
Photo from the walk - Fen Drayton Nature Reserve walk
Photo from the walk - Fen Drayton Nature Reserve walk
Photo from the walk - Fen Drayton Nature Reserve walk
Click thumbnails for larger images.

Cambridgeshire is mostly a very flat county but parts of it are very scenic such as the Fen Drayton Nature Reserve. "From gravel to grebes" declares a poster at the car park at the reserve and this briefly describes the transition from the old to the new, the former gravel pits having been reclaimed by nature. Although this walk starts at the car park, an alternative way of getting there is by using the Cambridgeshire Guided Busway which officially opened on 7 August 2011 and which follows the route of the old railway line between Cambridge and St Ives. If coming this way, alight at the Fen Drayton Reserve stop.

On a warm summer's day, this is an area of idyllic beauty where you may see damselflies, cabbage white butterflies, grazing cows and masses of blackberries. The route also passes alongside a section of the picturesque River Great Ouse where occasional boats may be seen cruising down the river. On a cloudier day, the mood is more sombre and serene with tree clad islands seen in silhouette while ducks leave trailing lines in their wake and water gently laps lake shores. There are numerous paths and tracks in the area offering multiple walking route options and therefore this is only one suggested route.

Adjacent to the Fen Drayton Reserve stop on the guided busway is an information board with - unless they have run out - a supply of leaflets about walking trails in the area. There are three colour-coded routes, the Holywell Short Trail (1 mile), the Ferry Lagoon Trail (2.5 miles) and the Elney Loop Trail (3 miles). Note that the guided busway bisects the area of lakes and care should be taken when crossing as the buses travel very fast. This route is essentially a circular route in an anti-clockwise direction using the car park as the start and finish point. In my personal opinion, Ferry Lagoon is the prettiest of the lakes, therefore if time is limited to one lake only, this would be the best option to choose.

A bridleway leads from the car park to the bus stop. From the guided busway take the track due south heading towards the village of Fen Drayton which gives the nature reserve its name but branch right to border Elney Lake. Not much is seen of this lake due to tree cover but a bird watcher's hide appears on the western shore offering a view of the next lake. After contouring round Elney Lake, the route crosses the guided busway again. Follow the path ahead to contour round Drayton Lagoon and this time there are some viewpoints to the right. The path leads to a T junction with the River Great Ouse ahead. Turn right here and follow the track ahead with the river on your left. When a marina comes into view on the left, the path branches sharp right, away from the river. Take the next turning on the left. This path contours around Ferry Lagoon in a clockwise direction offering many views between trees though this is also one of the prettier stretches alongside the River Great Ouse to the left. Once back at the Fen Drayton Reserve bus stop, it is a simple matter to follow the road to the right to return to the start point.

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