Market Weston Fen Nature Reserve
Know before you go
Grazing animalsCattle and ponies graze the fen
Can be quite wet in places
The gates have ‘Radar’ locks but access is not easy, with uneven, soft ground and a step at either end of a narrow footbridge giving access to the fen.
When to visit
Opening timesOpen at all times
Best time to visitMay to September
About the reserve
A wildlife paradise home to a dizzying array of some 250 flowering plants, scores of butterfly, invertebrates and animals, it is a must visit place for anyone wishing to study or simply enjoy a quiet landscape that drips with life. A circular trail takes in most of the reserve’s 91 acres, past grassland, dykes, scrub and fen and up on to higher sandy ground that offers a view that has remained relatively unchanged for hundreds of years.
Although exploited by man for sedge, reeds and peat, Suffolk’s valley fens like Market Weston remained largely intact until the 18th century when river engineering and drainage started to shape the valleys. Bit by bit the fens became fragmented and the rise of intensive agriculture soon left once connected and rich wetland as isolated fens, strung like a beautiful necklace around the throat of north Suffolk. Lying in a shallow valley carved by the tributary of the Little Ouse, Market Weston Fen avoided the onslaught of 20th century damage with the same chalk springs feeding it now as more than 1,000 years ago.
In fact one of the joys of this reserve is the sounds as well as the sights, the quiet song of soughing reeds, the bubble of water and the papery rustle of dragonfly wings. In the summer look out for the pale flowers of early marsh orchid and grass-of-Parnasses, along with other rarities such as common butterwort and the exotic blooms of marsh fragrant orchid.
Market Weston Fen benefitted from a gift in the will of David Feavearyear.