Wednesday, 24 September 2014

If you go down to the woods today...

This autumn our team of family adventure guides are putting together a range of things for little ones. We have created a sensory trail for the under 5’s at the start of the woodland path. Spot the handprints, see what your senses can discover, sort your finds on the nature table and have a go at weaving some wonderful creations!

Have a go at weaving

Spot the handprints

We’re still developing our offer for little ones so if you have any ideas then do email

Sophie Atkinson
Anglesey Abbey
Family Volunteering Project Co-ordinator and Community Engagement Assistant

Monday, 15 September 2014

Discover more at the Discovery Cabin

The Discovery Cabin

Thanks to the hard work of our family adventure guides, the discovery cabin has had a well-earned revamp. The nature station has had a tidy and we welcome more great nature finds for our display and drawers. So keep on the lookout for eggshells, seeds and any other exciting nature discoveries you would like to share! And why not pop in to try one of our activities sheets or have a look at Nature Club resource pack for ideas to make your day extra special?!

The Nature Station

If you have any suggestions for ways we can improve the Discovery Cabin further as a space for families to enjoy, then do drop me an email at We always like to hear what you think!

Sophie Atkinson
Family Volunteering Project Co-ordinator and
Community Engagement Assistant.

Friday, 12 September 2014

Have a browse....

Walk on the Wild Side available to browse in the Discovery Cabin

Wild Art on the Inspiration Station

Take a look at our Nature Club resource pack in the flesh! It’s brimming with fabulous ideas of ways your family and friends can get outdoors and enjoy nature. Copies of ‘Wild Art’ and ‘Walk on the Wild Side’ are available on the Inspiration Station and the Discovery Cabin for you to have a browse.

After you’ve had a look, do pop them back and download your own copy for free via our website or blog:

Please send us your feedback and experiences. It would be great to see which activities you get up to!

Sophie Atkinson
Family Volunteering Project Co-ordinator and
Community Engagement Assistant
Anglesey Abbey

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

A Summer of Fun at the Fen


I has been a while since ther has been a Wicken Fen post, apologies. The summer has been a busy time with lots of fun activities to lead and it's all hands on deck with different  things across the property!

It started with lots of Fetes and fairs in local villages to talk to people about the vision project and what we are up to at the moment. 

Then the summer holidays arrived and families have been enjoying themselves at our summer holiday events lead by the learning team which ave been very popular, from fairies to mud. We have had our Family Adventure guide families volunteering to help other families enjoy there visit to the fen which has been great.  We had a bat and moth evening to look for the Fens nocturnal wildlife and some family camp outs at the wild campsite, with marshmallows, story telling and star gazing.

I had a few enjoyable days helping out with driving the Wicken Fen boat for our visitors, I am back up cover for when the usual team are on holiday and I had some sunny days with good views of Marsh harriers and terns diving in front of the boat.

We had a stand at Scotsdales Garden Centre Fun Day to give lots of families a fifty things scrapbook and encourage them to take on the challenge. 

A team of Students from Cambridge university were helping out with summer activities and they lead a great willow weaving session with students  - Sophie has blogged about this separately

I also help out the ranger team which has involved helping with some animal movements of our Konik Ponies and Highland cattle, and lots of strimming and mowing of the Lodes Way cycle path to keep it accessible for cyclists and looking neat and tidy. I always enjoy seeing how many people are using it when I'm out and about. 

Coming up in Autumn we have the National Trust Walking Festival, the Cambridge Student Society will be back at University, the Gutterbridge Community woodland lease has been signed and we have a Community Liaison Forum meeting so look out for updates on all of these. 


Community Ranger
Wicken Fen 

Thursday, 28 August 2014

A very hungry caterpillar

Anglesey Abbey's inspiration station has acquired its very own hungry caterpillar. But unlike the far more famous one, this caterpillar prefers shiny pennies to fruit or cake! So why not post a penny in its mouth and hear it say thank you?! It makes a cute ‘ting’ sound each time you feed it a coin. All the coins consumed will go towards stocking the inspiration station, helping provide magnifiers, bug pots, guides and drawing things to take round on your visit.

Sophie Atkinson
Community Engagement Assistant
Anglesey Abbey

Photography © Sophie Atkinson

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Along came a spider...

While wandering around the butterfly trail at Wicken Fen, you may notice a few additions. Gazing from one of the trees is a large spider, while down in the grass lurks a giant pike! These beautiful willow creations were made by a group of children taking part in a three day project at Wicken Fen. The group were at Wicken to get to know each other before they make the transition to secondary school.

On their first day, we did a tour of Wicken Fen, getting inspiration for the willow sculptures. We saw lots of butterflies and dragonflies. We also went on a bug hunt, finding caterpillars, beetles, crickets, and lots of spiders!

After lunch, everyone got their creative hats on and the result was a host of ambitious designs! Inspired by the watery habitat, one group decided to make a pike as long as Lois!

The second day saw their designs come to life. Our lovely team of volunteers helped the group make two butterflies, a spider and the notorious pike. Using woven circles, teardrops and ovals, the designs became a reality. Everyone showed a real dedication to detail - one of the groups had even brought along some beautiful pebbles to use for the spider’s eyes!

We arranged the creations near the spot where we had been working, using a handy tree for the butterflies and spider.

The third day involved all things water! First, the group got to explore Wicken Fen the best way possible – by boat! Jack gave a tour of the Fens and the group learnt all about its history and habitat.
Then, having travelled on top of the water, the group delved into what lurks within it. Sadly no pikes were found while pond-dipping, but all manner of other creatures were discovered!
We caught lots of dragonfly nymphs, which live in the water while they grow and develop into dragonflies. We were amazed to discover that they can exist in this stage for up to four years! We also watched a water scorpion battle and had fun catching the elusive pond skaters, which seemed determined to escape us!
But it was the newts that were the prize catch! The most exciting watery resident to be caught was the Great Crested Newt, the largest newt found in Britain. It has a beautiful orange underside. We learnt that newts are common at Wicken Fen, but are a rare species, which is why their protection is so important. We all had a quick look before releasing her gently back into the water.
So at the end of the three days, we had not only got to know each other, but learnt lots about Wicken Fen too!

Sophie Atkinson
Community Engagement Assistant
Anglesey Abbey

Photography © Sophie Atkinson; Hannah Lissaman

Thursday, 21 August 2014

Wildflower meadow fun!

Each month, the community team meet for a sharing day, to catch up on news and learn from each other. This month’s sharing day taught us all about the wildflower meadow. Under the outstanding tuition of David, Anglesey Abbey’s Assistant Head Gardener, we perused the wildflower meadow, finding and identifying all sorts of flowers.

David and some of the community team

Contrary to what you may think, the wildflower meadow is not actually planted. Instead, the flowers have appeared after a change in the management of the area. Previously, the lawns were kept short, frequently mown and the cuttings left on the grass. This returned the nutrients to the soil, encouraging the growth of grass. By stopping this practice, all the seeds that were lying dormant in the soil were able to grow, replacing the grassy lawns with a beautiful array of wildflowers. 

With David’s help, we identified agrimony, bird’s foot trefoil, plantain, lady’s bedstraw and many more!

Bird's foot trefoil

But not content with just the flora, we also spotted a variety of creatures along the way. The butterflies were out in force and Kate managed to capture some stunning pictures (after a lot of patience!).

Small skipper

We also saw a host of interesting creepy crawlies, including a very friendly caterpillar and lots of crickets and grasshoppers.

Lotte and the very friendly caterpillar!

After lunch, the community team caught up with the community news. We discussed the family activity guiding taking place during the summer holidays. This year, there will be led activities on some days (including wild art, den building, storytelling and mini-beasting) run by our lovely volunteers, alongside all of the self-led activities which can be done at any time down at Hoe Fen. Overall it was a lovely day and a brilliant first sharing day for me!

Sophie Atkinson
Community Engagement Assistant
Anglesey Abbey

If you're interested in getting involved with the community team, contact

Photography © Kate Boursnell