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Bayleigh Cline



Old Maps

Historic Analysis

Understanding the history of the local landscape can help you restore lost ecosystems and plan interventions that work with natural forces, rather than struggling against them.

1886 Map

CC-BY – Reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland. Support the institution by purchasing a print of this map.


Most of the area is covered by Neutral Grassland, reclaimed from Fen Marsh & Swamp. Over time, this habitat is likely to have been enriched with grazing and fertiliser, so that today it is mostly Modified Grassland.


No Broadleaved Mixed & Yew Woodland appears to be present except for patches of Traditional Orchard, marked with a regular tree pattern. In the modern landscape, these are likely to have transitioned into Intensive Orchard. As the land has been reclaimed from Fen Marsh & Swamp, it will be unlikely that much woodland would previously have existed here, but over time the soils will have been drained. Today Wet Woodland and Lowland Mixed Deciduous Woodland would likely be the climax habitat.


Dense scrub is not recorded on the map and few hedgerows are shown outside of the settlements. Most boundaries are ditches or tree lines. As a reclaimed Fen Marsh & Swamp habitat converted to pasture, little space had been left for succession of scrub. Today, fields adjacent to the river are showing some signs of ‘scrubbing-up’.


While much of this former Fen Marsh & Swamp has been drained, some areas still remain in fields along the northern edge of Old Bedford River. This is likely the lowest-lying point and, post draining, the area has slowly dried out over time, leaving only a few artificial lakes and some slightly marshy ground to the South of the river.


It is likely that this land has transitioned from pasture (Modified Grassland) to Arable as the soils have dried out. The majority of fields are now under Arable management, though a lot of pasture still remains.


The land under urban development has not changed much over time, with Welney remaining a small village.


No rock habitats are noted on the map.


The drained landscape is largely unchanged in terms of its drainage channel layout. The main rivers are channelised, offering little benefit to biodiversity. However, WWT Welney has expanded the amount of Eutrophic Standing Waters, as have a number of artificial lakes and ponds scattered across the landscape. The availability of this habitat appears to have increased over time, likely in response to local demand for access to freshwater.


Some Intertidal Mudflats may be present on the channelised rivers, which appear to be brackish water. These may attract coastal waders into this inland location.