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Travelling west towards Stamford


Realitas Community Arts Centre

Situated in Peakirk just a few miles to the west is this delightful arts centre.  A registered charity, it is an exhibition space for local artists and craft artisans, myself included. Allow plenty of time to browse the upper art gallery then call in at Totties Teas, a very relaxing place for a cuppa and cake.

http://www.realitascommunity.org/

A 5 minute drive west, on the river road towards Market Deeping will take you to the Exotic Pet Refuge, a small charity which provides home and care to both exotic and native animals who are in need. They take in all kinds of animals from zoos, organisations such as the RSPCA, or owners who cannot care for their pet any more, and British wildlife which have been injured and require care. They currently house over 400 different animals.  The refuge has 6 open days per year which are always well supported.  You can find out more on their website, http://www.exoticpetrefuge.org.uk/home.htm

Market Deeping has a good range of shops and cafes and a very intersting Antique and Craft Centre with an extensive range of stands which is open daily. Be prepared to spend a long time here, it's quite absorbing. 

Helpston is famous for being the birthplace and home of the poet John Clare.  It has a number of good eating places, the Bluebell  is very popular

Barnack:  Locally referred to as Hills and Hollows. The limestone, known as Barnack rag, was used to build local abbeys such as Peterborough and Crowland. It is now one of Britain’s most important wildlife sites.

Burgley House built originally as the home of William Cecil.  Burgley sits on the edge of Stamford and is worthy of a full days outing on its own.  Many events are held here throughout the year. visit http://www.burghley.co.uk/ for details.

And so to Stamford, one of the prettiest stone towns in the country.     

A short hop from Stamford gets you to Rutland Water.  Here you can try sports such as windsurfing, rock-climbing or canoeing, hire a dinghy, bicycle or fishing boat, visit the Egleton and Lyndon nature reserves, or just relax by the water and watch the action around the 25 mile shoreline. 

Travelling north towards Boston   

Moulton Mill was one of 30 historic buildings to be included in the first 'Restoration' series on BBC TWO. It is a grade1 listed building  It is now the tallest mill in the country as conservation work has been completed, including restoration of the brick tower and provision of suitable access for the disabled and a tea-room, kitchen and exhibition room in the former granary.

Spalding is renowned for it's tulips and the annual flower festival held in late April or early May.   If you are thinking of coming make sure you book your accommodation early.

Becoming almost as popular is the new annual Pumpkin Festival  held in October.  The festival has grown each year, and includes a farmers' market during the day, and entertainment in the evening before a parade of carved pumpkins. The day is rounded off with a spectacular fireworks display in the town centre.

Hop aboard the Spalding Water Taxi  and enjoy a 30 minute cruise to Springfield Festival Gardens and shopping outlet.

Springfields is a full day out with 25 acres of themed, educational and inspirational gardens.   It's here that the new Fenscape experience is to be found and if thats not enough there's always the shopping as this is a factory outlet shopping centre with over 43 outlet stores.

This part of the world is home to a large number of garden centres, one of which is the multi award winning Baytrees.  A visit to Baytrees provides so much to see that the majority of people stay for their lunch, in fact some people just go for the lunch!.  There's over 30 acres of ever changing displays, exploring every aspect of gardening and garden life.                  It's also home to the Owl centre where you will find one of the largest and most varied selections of owls and birds of prey you will ever see, combined with a large  indoor flying arena, Over 100 birds of prey are on  display, some in  breeding pairs, some just resting between flights in the  arena. Some birds can be handled (under the supervision of the resident falconer). 

Bird watchers will not want to miss paying a visit to Frieston Shore a developing nature reserve with an expanding range of wetland habitats. The reserve is situated on the Wash - the most important site in the UK for wintering birds, with over a third of a million wildfowl and wading birds present during the winter.

Boston is famous for it's parish church, St Botolph's, known locally as 'the Stump'. It has the highest tower in England, visible across the flat lands of Lincolnshire for miles.  Look inside at the memorials to some of Boston's famous sons, and its American connections.  Many of its houses date from the days when the Pilgrim Fathers made their first attempt to leave England. The very first effort failed, through the treachery of the captain of the vessel in which they were to take passage. They suffered a month’s imprisonment,  They were locked up. here and it was 1620 before they managed to get away and start their epic voyage on The Mayflower,


Travelling east towards Kings Lynn and the Wash

Close to Crowland at Whaplode Drove  is Woodbine Cottage, a gallery dedicated to young graduating artists.  Regular exhibitions are held throughout the year .  Full details can be found on their website. at http://www.woodbinecontemporaryarts.co.uk/index.html


Visit the Butterfly and Wildlife Park at Long Sutton where you can walk through the Tropical House and  see hundreds of colourful butterflies flying around you, or Reptile Land with crocodiles to snakes, the Creepy Crawlie House or the famous Ant Room, there is plenty to do whatever the weather.


Each winter up to 9000 Whooper and Bewick's swans make their way from Iceland and Arctic Russia to spend the winter on the Ouse Washes at Welney. You can see these amazing travellers and find out more by visiting a swan feed at the Welney Wetland Centre.  One of the most spectacular times of day is watching the swans return to the reserve to roost. Thousands of swans can be seen streaming across the sky against the backdrop of a Fenland sunset.  Visit their website for details of times for the swan feeds at http://www.wwt.org.uk/

And so we arrive at Wisbech, Capital of the Fens, with a population of about 20,200, and situated about 25 miles to the northeast of Peterborough, is a market town of great character and historical importance. There is so much history, connecting back to the Romans, and such well known people as Hereward the Wake,King John and Octavia Hill, the co-founder of the National Trust and pioneer of social housing, who was born here in 1838.  Wisbech is a port so there is always something to watch.  Horticulture auctions are held here several times a week.

Don't go straight to Kings Lynn, stop awhile at the African Violet Centre at Terrington St Clement. Here they aim to provide people with an insight in to the world of African violets, their care and cultivation. Visitors are able to wander around the nursery and see the vast display of African Violets at all stages of growth, from tiny plants to full grown plants, which are offered for sale.  Wind up your visit with a cuppa at the cafe/restaurant . http://www.africanvioletcentre.biz/index.php

King's Lynn is an historic medieval port dating back to the 12th century.  It has maintained its thriving commercial heart and relative prosperity. While the winding streets and alleys of the old town remain intact, Lynn also boasts an extensive, pedestrianised shopping area, with a lively combination of national retailers, specialist shops and bustling markets on Tuesday and Saturday.

Just a few miles on from Kings Lynn is the Queens residence at Sandringham.  This is a very popular day out for all ages.  Bring a picnic or eat in the visitor centre restaurant then take a tractor ride through the estate.  Take home a plant from the nursery or a gift from the gift shop as a memento. 


Travelling south via Peterborough towards St Ives

Birdwatchers and nature lovers should start their southward journey by stopping off just a few miles out of Crowland at Eye Green Nature Reserve.  The reserve has open access to the public and specially designed lakeside path with fishing platforms for people with mobility difficulties The 24 acre site includes a 15 acre lake, a geological site of special scientific interest, areas of woodland and reed beds. It supports a wide variety of wildlife habitats and provides a haven for over 140 species of plants.                              This journey south also takes in the Great Fen Project. Visit their website to see the full extent of this Project which is one of the most exciting habitat restoration projects ever undertaken in Britain - will create a 3,700 hectare wetland between Huntingdon and Peterborough. http://www.greatfen.org.ukwww.peterborough-cathedral.org.uk/

No visit to Peterborough is complete without a trip to see the beautiful Cathedral.  Situated right in the middle of the bustling town it is a tranquil setting set back from the main Cathedral Square.  The Cathedral is renowned for its stunning West Front and the nave ceiling.  Two queens were buried in the Cathedral during the Tudor period. Katherine of Aragon's grave is in the North Aisle near the High Altar, whilst Mary Queen of Scots was buried on the opposite side of the altar, though her grave is now empty (she was re-buried in Westminster in 1612).

If you are interested in archaeology then Flag Fen is a must see for you.  At Flag Fen archaeologists have discovered the preserved remains of a huge timber monument to our ancestors. Today part of the remains can be viewed in an undercover display hall that contains a 60 metre wall painting showing how the people of the past lived in this part of the Fens some 3,000 years ago.

The 20 acre park around Flag Fen contains recreations and reconstructions of houses and dwellings from past times, including native flora and fauna around a site packed with wildlife. Visit http://www.flagfen.com/ for full information.

Peterborough Museum houses a collection of some 227,000 objects covering the history of the Peterborough area, including archaeology, social history, art, geology, natural history, costume and militaria. Displays are being updated throughout the Museum to offer a 'hands-on' element.

The Museum has internationally important collections of marine dinosaurs (most found locally) and crafted items made by Napoleonic Prisoners of war (most kept near Peterborough at Norman Cross, history's first POW camp).  A very popular attraction is their Ghost Walk. Details can be found at http://www.peterborough.gov.uk/page-488

Looking for a day out with a difference? Stilton Cheese Rolling certainly fits that category. It’s an annual event in Stilton held on Mayday.  Teams, many in fancy dress, battle for the simple honour of becoming the  'Stilton Cheese Rolling Champions'. Rolls of Stilton are rolled between two points marked on the road. Teams of four complete and each member has to roll the cheese at least once with a knockout competition until the grand final. And what do you know?  The starting and finishing points are situated outside pubs!

Another weird and wonderful event that takes place every year at Ashton near Oundle is the World Conker Championships.  If you're looking for a traditional english happening than this must be it!
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3_j4BtYGufY

Enjoy these magnificent  gardens at Abbots Ripton Hall near Huntingdon.     Visit http://www.abbotsriptonhall.co.uk for the full events programme. 

Still heading towards St Ives another must see is the area around Houghton, Hemingford Grey and Hemingford Abbots.  The centre of the village of Hemingford Grey has an attractive mixture of buildings including thatched timber-framed cottages and the church with its unique truncated spire. Hemingford Abbots is well-known as a very picturesque village. Many visitors come to enjoy the river and the peaceful walks in the meadows. Much of the village is in the ‘Conservation Area’; here there are many thatched 16th and 17th century cottages and barns,

St Ives nestles on the banks of the river Great Ouse.  It's most famous resident is Oliver Cromwell who was born here.  It achieved fame in medieval times for its international fairs. Today it is a quiet market town that is well worth a visit.