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Burwell is an area on the edge of the fens, on chalk and clay soils, which is relatively low in ponds, but has several interesting water features.

Spring Close - Burwell Castle and Moats

The castle itself is long since demolished and the moats are no longer filled, although they are still boggy (or were in 2002 when I wrote this). By May2017, the moats are essentially dry - but it's a dry year! However the moats were spring fed and the springs are still active. They feed a small stream that drains into Burwell lode.

The spring at the moats (hence the 'Spring Close' name) feeds a typical chalk stream quite different from anything else I'm aware of on the fen borders. But the stream soon becomes a fairly typical fen drain which joins Burwell lode. More on Burwell Brook.


The stream sports mainly

There is also woodland, where Ramsons are now naturalised.

There is also a separate page on which I am listing wild plants found around Burwell Castle


Fishes I have seen there are Neither are particularly evident.

Other aquatic wildlife includes


The two photos show the spring from below and above: it's the same large tree in both. The children are my daughter, Rachel and son Michael. Click on the thumbnails to download a full size picture.

First photo was taken 1st April 2001, second 6th June 2001.

Burwell lode

Burwell lode joins the river Cam at Upware, at the back of Wicken Fen. Upware is itself very interesting to aquarists, for here abound Bitterling (Rhodeus sericeus) by the thousand. The books I have on European fish claim that the bitterling is not native to the United Kingdom, and indeed it's listed on eFishBusiness. However, it's certainly been in Burwell lode (as well as in the adjoining Ouse and Cam rivers) for some years now (I first noticed it in the late 1980s) and is doing very well!

For anyone keeping a coldwater aquarium, the bitterling is an ideal fish and has a very interesting biology, using freshwater mussels as host for its young, which makes it symbiotic - as the young of the freshwater mussel are parasitic on fish!

I believe that Zander also are present in the lode.

Amongst plants that may be found, at the Upware end, are:

Burwell Brick pits 577 690

North of Burwell, on Poor's Fen, there are several pits, market at map reference 577 690. These are where the clay was dug to make the local bricks, Burwell whites. They are pleasant ponds, but are on private ground so not accessible. See more on Burwell Brick pits.

Burwell Chalk pit 608 685

Shown on the map is a lake: this is a flooded chalk pit which once fed a cement factory. It is not easily accessible. It's clear and deep and the remains of a pit railway and other buildings can be seen underwater.

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Last modified: Mon, 09 Apr 2018 13:17:28 BST
Page first published 6th November 2002.
Page written and © 2002-2004 by Richard Torrens