Since Roman times earth banks have been constructed around the shores of the Wash to protect settlement from flooding and to claim salt marshes for agriculture.
Over the centuries the shape of the coastline has changed beyond recognition and in more recent years the coast around the Wash has become a haven for birdwatchers, nature lowers, walkers and stylists. During the summer months the marshes become a shimmering purple haze of sea lavender and sea aster and it is along this coastline that samphire (the asparagus of the sea) is traditionally harvested for food.
Saltmarshes are some of the rarest habitats in the UK and each year around 100 hectares in this country are being lost. Formed by find silts and sands deposited in sheltered locations and colonised by specialist salt tolerant plants, they sustain incredible numbers of invertebrates, which creates protein rich land and thus provides invaluable feeding grounds for birds.
A new project, The Boston Washbanks, is now underway to improve flood defences and allow the set to reclaim 78 hectares of farmland as saltmarsh. Some of the material used to build the Wash Banks were taken from a site at Freiston Shore and this has now been turned into a 12 hectare lagoon with islands managed by the RSPB. A healthy saltmarsh fronting a seabank acts as a natural flood defence by decreasing the power of the waves as they move up the marsh.
This is the biggest example of such a project in the UK and over 150 bird specieis are recorded here each year. In the summer visitors can see breeding birds like redshanks, avocets and ringed plovers and in the winter there are geese, short-eared owls and hen harriers. At high tide, flocks of birds roost here until they can return to their feeding grounds of the Wash. The site also sustains many diverse saltmarsh plants including several nationally scarce specieis.
Come to explore one of Englnad’s rarest landscapes and experience the haunting mood and character of the dramatic coastal marshes and big skies of the Wash.