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A Tour of Wheatfen

The following twelve points relate to the map at the bottom of the page

• Please note : Dogs are not allowed on the reserve. Access for wheelchair users (also pushchairs/buggies) is limited to the boardwalk leading to The Thatch (see map below), as most paths are tracks through marsh and woodland.

1 Wheatfen Cottage was built as a pair of marshmen's cottages and has been the home of the Ellis family since 1946.

2 Home Dyke was an original linear peat digging that is now used as access to the Fen Channel. A direction board is at the head of Home Dyke and a duplicate is on The Thatch. A shallow pond has been dug in Osier Carr to encourage dragonflies.

3 Old Mill Marsh was a traditionally cut litter fen and fodder was sent to London for cab horses until 1918. The fen, once rich in orchids, is now mown each winter to bring it back to its former diversity of species, which include Meadow Rue, Meadowsweet, Yellow Iris and Valerian. In 1988 a large pond was excavated, and The Thatch was erected in 1991.

4 A new pond was dug on Alder Carr Marsh in 1997. The marsh now supports a variety of plants including Marsh Orchids and Yellow Loosestrife.

5 Along the Summer Path, watch for Swallowtail butterflies in late May and early June. Listen for Reed Warblers, Sedge Warblers and Reed Buntings singing. Watch for the Marsh Harrier hunting over the reed beds. If the Summer Path is closed, you can take the new path southwards between Thack Marsh and Blake's Marsh, which is open all year. This is a good place to look out for Bearded Tits.

6 Smee Loke has an abundance of flowers and is the haunt of Brimstone, Peacock, Small Tortoiseshell and Red Admiral butterflies, taking nectar from the Ragged Robin and Hemp Agrimony. The dyke beside the path is rich in plant and insect life.

7 Alongside Eleven Bridges path is a tidal dyke that brings water on and off Old Mill Marsh by a series of grups (foot drains).

8 Penguin Dyke was the last home of the wherry 'Penguin' bombed in 1943. At the end of the dyke is Fen Channel, which leads south to Wheatfen Broad. Return towards The Thatch but cross the bridge on the left and take the raised path through Two Acres to the boardwalk.

9 At the direction board, walk on to Home Marsh and then alongside the wood. This will take you to ...

10 ... a corduroy path leading to views over Wheatfen Broad and Deep Waters. Continuing to the main path, you may hear Cetti's Warblers singing. They breed and overwinter here.

11 Turn left at the main path then cross the bridge into Wood Carr. In the wetter parts of the wood, Opposite-leaved Golden-saxifrage carpets the ground. Cross the bridge at the end of Sluice Dyke.

12 In the dry part of Surlingham Wood, you will find a few of the oak trees planted circa 1815 that have survived the gales. This path leads you back to the car park.

Map : Bob Ellis

• There is no charge for entry but contributions towards the upkeep of the reserve are always very welcome.

• Sorry, but dogs are not allowed on the reserve.

• Please keep to the designated footpaths, as parts of the fen are dangerous due to swamps, overgrown dykes and old peat diggings. Please read our Public Risk notes for visitors to Wheatfen.

• Wheatfen is a spillway to stop Norwich from flooding therefore the Summer Path is closed between October and May.

• The walk from The Thatch to the river and back takes roughly an hour.