Redrave and Lopham Fen, a nature reserve ran by the Suffolk Wildlife Trust, is located near the Norfolk village of South Lopham and the Suffolk village of Redgrave, with the majority of the reserve residing on the Norfolk side of the border.
It’s been on my to-visit list for a while and whilst on a socially-distant visit to friends in nearby Diss we took the opportunity to do so. Actually, we did have one aborted visit a couple of years ago. Unfortunately some heavy rainfall meant the ground was rather boggy and this stopped us getting beyond the car park on that occasion.
Luckily we’ve been spoilt with many dry days this year, meaning the ground was nice and dry; Perfect for a family walk in the sunshine! Of course, going for a walk post-lockdown meant that we needed to do a bit of extra planning ahead, like making sure everyone has gone for a pee before we leave the house, and working out where such facilities could be accessed if necessary on the way home! Little things like that have become the new norm wherever you go nowadays.
Before you set off on your walk, pick up one of the leaflets as this will help you choose a path and navigate around the fen. Of course, it’s easy to go wrong if you’re not paying attention – see later in this article!
There are several walks to choose from, ranging from 1/2 mile to 4 miles. Of course, to go for a longer walk you could combine some of these routes together. We chose the Great Fen Trail which is about 2 miles (3.2km) as this fitted nicely in to our days plans.
Okay, that’s enough words from me for now. Follow the photographic path to guide you along the Great Fen Trail. Oh, and keep an eye out for where we went wrong on our walk (okay, there’s some words from me at that point to explain and hopefully help!)
Keep an eye out for the signs.
By this point we were confident in our internal Sat Navs, and had decided not to look at the map any more. Read the paragraph below this photo to find out why you should think twice about crossing this bridge!
Do you remember what Luke Skywalker said to Princess Leia as they fled the Stormtroopers on the first Death Star? – “I think we took a wrong turn!” Well, in hindsight we could’ve done with his words echoing around our heads at this point…..
We didn’t need to find any controls to extend this bridge, though some courage perhaps needed to cross it. Indeed, cross it we did and continued along a narrow path that ran alongside a ditch all the way to a road. At which point we figured it might be a good idea to see if we could work out where we were on the route. Turns out we were no longer on the trail! So, we made our way back, clip clop over the bridge and spotted the “Great Fen Trail” sign that we had walked right past!
So, lesson learnt, we were back on the trail.
After an enjoyable walk that started off at 2 miles and, because of our detour, ended up being closer to 3 miles, we caught site of the Learning Centre. This seems like as good a point as any to mention there is a viewing gallery where you can see some great views across the fens.
As you can see from these photos. It’s pretty tranquil at Regrave and Lopham Fen, with plenty of breath-taking sights to see. Whilst sitting down for a rest at the end of our walk we watched a large bird of prey hovering over woodland for several minutes. It was too far away to work out what it was. As you walk around you will hear many bird species singing, as well as grasshoppers chirping. You may even catch sight of Konik Ponies, or a rare Fen Rat Spider.
We’re sure you would like to see some more, so we saved up some photos for another article for you, called Redgrave and Lopham Fen Great Fen Trail Part 2 (snappy and original, eh!) We’ve saved all our insect photos for this section, including some lovely butterfly photos.
FACILITIES – There is a toilet block at the Learning Centre (this was closed during our walk due to Covid19). It’s worth noting that to get there there are some narrow lanes to drive down, so take care driving.
DOGS – On a lead at all times. Dogs are forbidden to enter any water bodies.
SAFETY – There is some uneven ground, roots in footpaths, and potential hazards such as shallow water.
WHEELCHAIRS – SWT suggest this route is not suitable for wheelchairs (note, another route at the Fen, called the Summer Path, is considered to be wheelchair accessible)..
CLOBBER – It’s a short flat walk with some uneven ground, so normal comfortable footwear should be okay, however, whether may be a factor. We walked on a dry day and wore trainers.
DISTANCE AND DURATION – The walk around the Great Fen Trail was approximately 2 miles. Depending on how fast you walk you should allow between an hour and two hours.
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