Hopton Fen Nature Reserve
Know before you go
Soft & wet. Avoid fen peat which has deep holes
There are ‘Radar’ locks on the gates, but access is only available for the very determined. Ground conditions can be soft and uneven
When to visit
Opening timesOpen at all times
Best time to visitMay to September
About the reserve
Located within walking distance of Market Weston Fen, the footpath into the reserve slopes gently into a world of waterlogged peat and bristling stands of saw sedge, reed and rushes. Although protected from drainage by the Hopton Combined Charities, the lack of demand for fen products such as sedge and reed led to a slow scrubbing over that impacted on traditional plant communities. But following woodland clearance and the introduction of grazing to restore and maintain an open fenland landscape, rare fen-dependent species have begun to reappear.
In spring, look out for black bog rush, southern, marsh fragrant and early marsh orchid, adder’s tongue fern, twayblade and bogbean, while hemp agrimony and the azure blue Devil’s-bitscabious flower later in the season. Shallow pools created by peat cutting were one of the richest fen environments and while there is no longer a demand for peat turfs for heating and cooking, the Trust is recreating the habitat by excavating new pools. These turf ponds have been rapidly colonised by fascinating species such as the insect-munching bladderwort and strange aquatic plants with ‘skeletons’, called stoneworts. The reserve is a hotspot for birds too, with breeding nightingale, sedge and reed warbler and flocks of redwing in the autumn.