Fenstanton to Fen Drayton Lakes RSPB Nature Reserve

Amble through village, fields and along riverbank to watch cabin cruisers drift by. Follow a leafy footpath to picnic in a fantastic RSPB Nature Reserve.

Will you be lucky and spot the reserve stars? It takes great agility to catch a dragonfly on the wing, but you might see the flash of a hobby doing just that. A real treat is to see one of the world's greatest sights late in the day, a murmuration of starlings. Otters live in the area. Add lizards, grass snakes and badgers. There's often a rare feathered visitor as explained on the reserve website.
This 5 mile (11,000 steps) route is easy walking of great variety along riverside, fields, lakes and through a nature reserve. Food available at the end, or take a picnic. Plenty of wildlife and wildflower interest. Parts of the route can be muddy in winter. If the River Great Ouse is in flood the walk may be impassible between points 2 and 3.
Starting point
Park in the small car park in Fenstanton, 160 yards up Chequer Street on the left. Walk out of the car park and turn left to walk up Chequer Street. As you come to the top, veer right and turn into School Lane.

You arrive at the churchyard of St Peter and St Paul. Dating from the 1200s, the church is worth a visit if open. There are memorials to Fenstanton's two most famous past residents. Capability Brown, England's greatest gardener, had a small estate and The Manor House in Fenstanton and is buried in the churchyard. John Howland was one of the Pilgrims who arrived in North America on the Mayflower in 1620.

Walk straight through churchyard and turn left at the end, following the path as it turns right and skirts around and behind the pre-school area. Cross a field and walk along the back of several large gardens and meadows for horses.

Point 1
When you reach The Fen track turn right, then after 15 yards left to cross another field.

When you reach the River Great Ouse, turn right and follow the footpath, keeping the river on your left. This part of the walk is idyllic, as shown below, with cabin cruisers drifting by and plenty of river wildlife. You may be lucky enough to see a seal.
Point 2
Just over a third of a mile will bring you to the Guided Busway as it crosses the river, the longest guided track for buses in the world.

Carry straight on under the busway track and continue to follow along the riverbank. Ignore the first path off to the right which appears after almost half a mile.

Point 3
Turn right down the second path, just under a mile from the busway. Amble along the leafy path, into Fen Drayton Lakes RSPB Nature Reserve. Follow the track, full of dragonflies and butterflies, for just under half a mile. Cross over the Guided Busway track. If you've not seen the busway before, it's worth waiting to see one of the buses gliding along the track. A further third of a mile brings you to the reserve car park.

The area is a haven for birds, with 83 different species spotted in the first two weeks of 2017 alone. There's much more wildlife to see than birds, as the image below of common lizards shows. Walk carefully and you may catch them basking on a sunny day. It's worth taking a detour around the lakes. To guide you, there's a map of walks. Each of the two walks shown adds about 2 miles to your trip. Why not take a picnic to eat while using one of the viewpoints?
Point 4
Just past the car park turn right and follow the track for 425 yards. The route then turns left and right. After 220 yards you come to a gate. Immediately after passing through, turn left and walk past a small reservoir. Continue along this route, which becomes Oaktree Road.

Point 5
Just past Stubbins' Nursery turn right up the footpath skirting along the edge of the nursery land. As you pass huge greenhouses there's a view of vegetables growing on an industrial scale.

After the greenhouses you cross a field heading back towards Fenstanton. Walk along the path in front of a modern housing estate.

Point 6
After 290 yards walk into Hampton Close on the left. A further 110 yards, and as Hampton Close bends to the left, take the footpath heading off to the right.

This returns you to the footpath leading up to the preschool area mentioned at the start of the walk. Turn left, then right into the churchyard of St Peter and St Paul. You can now retrace your steps back to the car park.

Food and drink is available at the King William IV pub, which gets good reviews on Trip Advisor. There's also a chip shop and excellent bakery in the village High Street.

Click the 'Print Friendly' button below to print out this walk to take with you. Or for more walks click the 'Return Home' button at the foot of the page. Did you enjoy the walk? Notice anything unusual? Why not add a comment below to tell fellow amblers what you liked?

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