Our history

Bridge opening

Celebrating the end of the TEN project with European partners at the opening of the LOHP's new bridge across the river at Blo'Norton Fen

The Little Ouse Headwaters Project has its origins in local voluntary groups that managed Blo'Norton and Hinderclay Fens on behalf of these parishes in the late 1990s. By 2001 these groups had joined forces with other local conservationists to achieve more not only for their village fens but also for the many other remnants of fen, heath, meadow and woodland that still remained in the valley. Once part of an extensive and continuous tract of wild land along the river, these sites were rapidly losing their remaining important wildlife. The group aimed to reverse this decline by gradually re-creating a corridor for wildlife and, at the same time, for public enjoyment of the valley.


Here are some of the milestones in our history:

2002 Inaugural meeting of the Little Ouse Headwaters Project on 10 April.



Secured ten-year tenancy agreements on two important parcels of land adjacent to the river: The Frith in South Lopham and The Lows in Blo' Norton. We raised funds from the Heritage Lottery Fund's Your Heritage programme, DEFRA (Countryside Stewardship), the Shell Better Britain Community Fund and the East Anglian Daily Times Wild Flower Award scheme to start to restore these two sites.
2003 Purchased the western end of Blo' Norton Fen SSSI/SAC (Betty's Fen). Funding for the purchase of Betty's Fen came from a major grant from the European Union. This formed part of an ambitious partnership scheme led by Norfolk and Suffolk County Councils, covering the whole of the Little Ouse and Waveney valleys. This was turn is part of an international project, the Trans-national Ecological Network (TEN), that has restored river corridors in Denmark, Germany and the Netherlands. Our TEN grant, together with additional funds raised through our River Link Appeal (amounting to over £132,000) also enabled us to undertake a significant restoration project at Hinderclay Fen, as well as creating further facilities for access, interpretation, and education.  
2005 Entered into a new lease agreeement for Blo' Norton Fen and Blo' Norton Little Fen, enabling us to continue the successful restoration and management work started by the Blo' Norton Fen Conservation Group in 1997.
2006 Our first major award - the national CIWEM/RSPB Living Wetlands Award.
2007 Another major step forward - the purchase and restoration of two, adjacent sites in the parish of Thelnetham (Parkers Piece and Bleyswycks Bank). These added another critical piece to the jigsaw of former fens in our management, linking one of the remaining fragments of Thelnetham Fen to the river, directly opposite Betty's Fen. This project was funded by many generous contributions to our River Link Appeal and by major grants from Biffaward, Natural England, the Tubney Trust and Plantlife.
2011 A landmark year! Expanded westwards with the purchase of Scarfe Meadows and lease of Broomscot Common in the parish of Garboldisham. At the same time we were able to purchase Webbs Fen in Thelnetham.  Adjoining Bleyswycks Bank, and re-uniting the two, isolated, remaining fragments of Thelnetham Fen SSSI/SAC, this was a particularly important acquisition. Together with the restoration of the Garboldisham sites, it was funded by a major grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund. Read more about this grant, which has also enabled us to realise many of our wider aspirations for developing the educational potential and profile of the LOHP within the local communities.
2011 Entered the new agri-environment Higher and Entry Level Stewardship schemes that will fund much of our core land management work for the next decade. To faciliate this, we negotiated new, longer agreements on all of our leased sites, giving us security of tenure throughout the period of the scheme. We remain indebted to the many people and organisations that have supported our work - from volunteers, to the local charities from which we lease land, and national grant giving bodies - and enabled us to achieve so much for wildlife, landscape and public enjoyment in this unique and important valley over the last ten years.
2011 Won our second national award - the Biffaward 'Re-Building Biodiversity Award' for the restoration of Parkers Piece and Bleyswycks Bank.
2012 Applied successfully for Environmental Stewardship Schemes covering all of our sites. 
2014 Purchased New Fen, part of the former Thelnetham Fen complex. Awarded our third HLF grant to help with purchase and restoration costs.
2015 Two more land purchases - Oak Tree Fen and Carr Meadow just south of Hinderclay Fen. Oak Tree Fen was the last of seven fragments of the former Thelnetham Fen to be brought into conservation management. Its purchase and restoration was supported by our fourth HLF grant.
2016 Winners of a 'Norfolk Biodiversity Partnership Award' for the second time.
2017 Appointment of our first member of staff. Rob Martyr started work as our Conservation Manager in June thanks to a grant for the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation. 
Former LOHP trustee Pete Fox takes over from Rob Martyr as Conservation Manager. 
2019 A generous, three-year grant from the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation allowed us to appoint a new Conservation Manager, Ellie Beach, who started work in February. 
2019 In August 2019 we successfully purchased Reeves Meadows which is a really important part of the jigsaw as it joins together our land at Hinderclay Fen with Suffolk Wildlife Trust's creating a continuous corridor of land managed for conservation and connects the outlying Carr Meadow with the other sites.