Springhead Lane, also known as ‘Lovers Lane’, is an ancient path, which supports a wide variety of wildlife and fauna.
A popular route for walkers and wildlife watchers, it is the last vestige of what was formerly one of the most important routes into Ely. This led from Turbutsey, (where there was a quay on the old course of the river), to the Cathedral.
At the eastern end of the path is an oak tree thought to be at least 200 years old. There is a rich variety of trees and shrubs along the Lane, reflecting the age of the path. You can roughly tell the age of a hedge by the number of different trees and shrubs in a 30m stretch and then multiplying by 100. - Ash, Buckthorn, Blackthorn, Elder, Hawthorn, Oak, Privet, Rose, Willow, Maple, Elm, Crab Apple are some of the species found here. Ely Wildspace work with ECDC and the County Council Council to help maintain and enhance the area.
In early 2016 the County Council carried out a drastic clearance operation that generated a number of complaints from the public that the character of the path, the tunnel of greenery, had been damaged. As a result, East Cambridgeshire District Council (ECDC) convened a meeting between the County Council, ECDC, Natural England, the County Wildlife Trust, adjacent landowners, and Ely Wildspace. A management regime was subsequently developed that would include County Council clearance every 3 -4 years, ongoing minor trimming of vegetation, and planting to restore the ‘green tunnel’ effect. Ely Wildspace undertook to plant two oak trees (1 – 1.5 m in height), ash tree whips, hazel and field maple shrubs and transplant elm suckers in locations agreed with ECDC. This planting was completed over the winter/spring of 2017/18 using donated plants.
Ely Wildspace will continue to work with ECDC and the County Council to help provide a favourable setting for wildlife and the users of Springhead Lane.
The triangular meadow between Springhead Lane and the railway line is in a stewardship agreement which allows public access to an area of wet grassland. In the summer a variety of wildflowers and insects can be seen and in the evening the sound of a rusty bicycle may give away the presence of a grasshopper warbler. In winter the bushes sometimes attract winter visitors including redwing and fieldfares.
You can hear more about Ely’s Wild Spaces at Memories of Ely Pits and Meadows.