Willow Tree Fen

Willow Tree Fen

Sarah Craythorne

Dogs on a short lead
Livestock on site
Car park

PLEASE NOTE: Willow Tree Fen is open temporarily until early 2021 (date tbc) when the reserve will close again to allow the cranes to return.

Willow Tree Fen

Situated between Baston and Spalding, Willow Tree Fen is a relatively new nature reserve, transformed from arable land to a more traditional fenland landscape land to a more traditional fenland landscape. In 2020, with the extra solitude created by lockdown, cranes returned to the Lincolnshire Fens and successfully raised a chick.

What’s on

Visitor Information

Ben Hall/2020VISION

Know before you go


  • Open temporarily until early 2021 (date tbc) when the reserve will close again to allow the cranes to return.
  • Small car park.
  • There are no toilet facilities available.

  • Please note the new routes as shown on the map below.


Dogs are permitted but must remain on a short lead at all times. Please ensure that you pick up after your dog.

Opening times

Open temporarily until early 2021 (date tbc)

Group visits

Willow Tree Fen is not currently suitable for group visits.

Car park

Small car park

Location and contact details

Willow Tree Fen
Counter Drain Drove,
West of Spalding,
PE11 3JH

Please note, this postcode is for the nearest registered address as we are unable to get postcodes for nature reserves.

There is no access to Willow Tree Fen from the Macmillan Way or from Slipe Drove/West Pinchbeck.

OS Map Reference: TF 181 213

Contact number: 01507 526667
Contact email: info@lincstrust.co.uk

Habitats and species

When the Trust bought Willow Tree Fen in 2009 it was intensively farmed arable land growing beans and cereals. Nature has recovered. Now a more traditional fenland landscape of shallow meres, seasonally flooded pastures, hay meadows and reedbeds, it is rich in wildlife.

Many of our iconic wetland species are now thriving including lapwing, redshank, skylark, water rail, marsh harrier, shelduck, snipe, greater water parsnip, hairy dragonfly, spined loach and otter.

A pair of cranes arrived at Willow Tree Fen in late April 2020. The reserve was quiet due to the Coronavirus lockdown. Cranes are very vulnerable to disturbance, preferring secluded sites away from human activity. They need a disturbance-free area of at least 200 metres around their territory. As lockdown eased, Willow Tree Fen was kept closed. This decision paid off.

The cranes were able to roam the reserve without disturbance from people or dogs. Lincolnshire’s first crane chick in 400 years fledged in August 2020. Cranes are site faithful and the pair are likely to return. We want to given them the opportunity to nest again. This means closing the site early in 2021. If they do return and breed, the reserve will remain closed whilst they are present. When it is closed, a viewing area will be provided.  

Cattle graze Willow Tree Fen from April to November. They are an essential part of the management of the nature reserve. The cattle help to maintain the open conditions and prevent willow from invading the site.


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Scott Petrek