Visiting Willow Tree Fen Nature Reserve

Willow Tree Fen is a new nature reserve purchased by the Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust in 2009.

Location and access

Parish: Deeping St Nicholas
OS: 130
Grid Ref: TF 181 213
Size: 114 hectares (282 acres)
Freehold: 2009
Habitat type: Fenland restoration

Willow Tree Fen can be viewed from the Macmillan Way long distance path which runs along the bank of the River Glen, access is via the Pinchbeck Fen Slipe Road.

Please keep to the path to avoid trampling on crops and keep away from any farm operations.

If you do visit, please let us know of any wildlife sightings you make and how long you spend viewing wildlife - this information will help in the development the site and reporting back to funders.

Guided visits to learn more about the site and what is planned can be arranged. Please contact us for details. There will also be opportunities to get involved and to participate in the transformation of the site into a wildlife-rich fenland landscape.

Description and management

Willow Tree Fen is a new nature reserve purchased by the Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust in 2009. Formerly arable land growing beans and cereals with a number of low depressions that become waterlogged in wet periods, the fen will be restored over the next few years to a typical wet fenland landscape. The nature reserve will include a mixture of reedbeds, shallow meres, seasonally flooded pastures and hay meadows, providing habitats for rare and threatened wetland species such as otter, water vole, hairy dragonfly, spined loach, redshank, snipe and marsh harrier.

Critically, Willow Tree Fen is linked to the last remnants of the wild fenlands in Lincolnshire by the River Glen and Counter Drain. Covering just 55 hectares, the Baston Fen and Thurlby Fen reserves shelter the last of Lincolnshire's nature, inland fenland landscapes and some of its special wildlife. These reserves are too small to support some of the larger fenland birds and animals, and to cope with a changing climate, but from here the fenland species will be able to colonise Willow Tree Fen.

Increasing Lincolnshire's remaining fenland by 200%, the reserve will also provide opportunities for local people and schools to get involved in wildlife and landscape conservation. It will provide benefits for tourism, through improved access and help raise awareness of the importance of our ecological heritage and historic landscapes. The purchase and restoration of Willow Tree Fen has been made possible with financial support from Natural England, the Heritage Lottery Fund, Lincolnshire Waterways Partnership, Environment Agency and the members of the Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust. It is part of the wider South Lincolnshire Fenlands Partnership.

Birds at Willow Tree Fen

Bird surveys on Willow Tree Fen are helping to monitor the changing environment and reserve management approach as the fenland restoration progresses. Why not send in your records?

In the winter of 2009 the maximum numbers of Golden Plover recorded were just 47 while on 21st October 2010 there were over 1,050! Judging by the close proximity of birds during feeding they had found something on the restored grasslands to their liking.