Autumn and Winter events at Welney WWT

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Welney Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust is holding a series of fascinating wildlife and rural crafts events and workshops – wildlife photography, garden and willow structures and Christmas decorations, and watching, feeding and learning about swans from October to April. All of this is happening at the Welney Wetland Centre, Welney, Hundred Foot Bank, Norfolk, PE14 9TN. Take a look at these posters, take your picks and enjoy!

WWT Welney wildlife photography workshops 2014:

Welney WWT wildlife photography

Welney WWT wildlife photography

Willow workshops at WWT Welney poster:

Welney WWT willow and garden and decoration workshops

Welney WWT willow and garden and decoration workshops

WWT Welney Swans awake events 2014-15:

Welney WWT swan watching at dawn

Welney WWT swan watching at dawn

WWT Welney Swan feeds 2014-15:

Welney WWT opportunities to feed and learn about swans

Welney WWT opportunities to feed and learn about swans

 

Heritage Open Days of 2014 this Weekend!

Like last year, many heritage attractions are free to explore, usually for longer opening times with possible special exhibitions and access to places usually closed to the public all weekend for the Heritage Open Days! It is a special annual weekend supported by English Heritage since 1994 and you can visit the Heritage Open Days official website. This year it runs from Thursday 11th – Sunday 14th September. logos

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Ely Cathedral above the market. Source: Pete Johnstone

With open nights on Friday evening, open tours on Saturday and open houses on the Sunday, an interesting Ely Heritage Weekend is coming up! On Friday evening, you can experience Oliver Cromwell’s House, Ely Cathedral, The Stained Glass Museum and Ely Museum at the unusual hours of after closing time. The Saturday has lots more things going on! Bookings for places are advisable as they are different and enjoyable guided tours around Ely, in the Courthouse, the 15th century Old Palace and the West Tower in Ely Cathedral. The Ely Museum also has a guided tour alongside many activities. On the Sunday, Ely opens its 14th and 16th century houses at 7 & 9 Silver Street, Ely’s Old Porta entrance and the 14th century chapel that are rarely opened to the public. Additionally, a tour around St Peter’s Church and riverside walk with the Environment Agency and Cambridgeshire ACRE is on. Pre-booking is essential with all of Sunday activities.

The Chatteris Library is showing photographs of how the buildings in Chatteris changed over time.

March offers around 20 events and activities this year including a trip with a local historian to learn about the town’s influential Gray family, a gentle walk on architectural details of the buildings along Station Road, a walk seeing the railway and water voles, children’s activities and a toys exhibition at March and District Museum – see The March Society website.

Heritage Open Days in Fenland poster. Source: The March Society

Fenland Heritage Open Days booklet front cover. Source: The March Society.

The Capital of the Fens – Wisbech – have many things open and to see for the weekend. A wide range of buildings are open such as Wisbech Castle, Masonic Lodges and Council Chambers, which has displays of furniture, historical styles and various artefacts to view and learn from. The other venues open from the public ranged from a theatre – the Angles Theatre – to all the National Trust properties, including the one usually closed to the public. A guided tour and apple tasting at The Orchard and the various churches and museums in Wisbech with their individual features, characters and various kinds of history exhibited through talks to demonstrations will be specially available for the public this Heritage Open Days weekend too. Of particular interest, “Vivian” the fire engine that served Wisbech in the 1930s to the 1960s is on display.

The Fenland Heritage Open Days booklet that cover the rest of Fenland for can be consulted for further information.

The Ramsey Rural Museum is open on the Sunday and there will be a great range of ways to discover Ramsay‘s heritage including a Great Fen exhibition trailer and learning about the two world wars.

St Ives opens a number of their religious and town buildings for most of the weekend, including a mosque that opens on the Sunday and exhibitions in the Corn Exchange, while Holt Island Nature Reserve is open all weekend with a basket weaving display. The flyer can be downloaded here.

In Houghton, National Trust’s Houghton Mill is free and themed Victorian with costumed actors and available toys for children to play with, and the Mill will work to produce flour.

Have a great one!

Walk to Better Health

The Great Fen Local Ramble at March I went on recently had people who regularly attend 1 hour long health walks in their Fenland towns. logos

The NHS recommends that walking can become part of a healthy routine through integrating it into your daily schedule, for example walking the children to school or walking to work. To keep walking interesting and sociable, you can cover different routes and distances, set goals and join local walking groups.

Examples of walking organisations and their walks near Ouse Washes Landscape Partnership area

Walking for Health is a relatively recent health-related initiative that is aimed at people who do little or no exercise but who would like to become more active. Based at Cambridgeshire ACRE in Littleport, I found many different health walks within 15 miles, many of which are also in or around the Ouse Washes Landscape Partnership area:

  • East Cambridgeshire: Heart Beat at Littleport (10:30 am, Harley-Davidson Sculpture, Church Lane, CB6 1PT) and Ely (2 pm, Ely Cathedral, Minster Place, CB7 4D) every Tuesday; Littleport (Evening Walk, 6:30 pm, St George’s Medical Centre, Parsons Lane, CB6 1JU) on Thursdays.
  • Mytime Active Cambridgeshire Walks at Littleport (6.30pm, St George’s Medical Centre every Wednesday) and Wisbech (2.15pm, Chapel Road) every 2nd Tuesday and March (10am, Merceford House) every Tuesday; (10.30am, Cornerstone Surgery) every Thursday; (12.30pm, George Campbell Leisure Centre) every Thursday.

Organisations and resources for health walks

Ramblers organises group walks for people of all ages, backgrounds and abilities, including previously inactive people, people with a specific health condition and people with wheelchairs. They hold walks in towns, cities and the countryside to promote walking for health, leisure and as a means for getting around.

The Fenland Ramblers gathering up in Swaffham for a walk in the surrounding Norfolk countryside. Source: Lizzie Bannister
The Fenland Ramblers gathering up in Swaffham for a walk in the surrounding Norfolk countryside. Source: Lizzie Bannister

There are several Ramblers groups local to the OWLP are: Cambridge and Peterborough,  Fenland and East Cambridgeshire, and Cambridge and Huntingdon. Keep posted on these Ramblers’ websites to see if you can enjoy the Ouse Washes via walks at places in and around the scheme area. Remember that organisations like the Great Fen Project also hold walks in the area, information about which may be available from local walking group, nature conservation groups, and leisure or health centres. Other national initiatives such as Walk4LIfe supports the activity of walking and changes to better lifestyles for health benefits, this interactive map from Walk4LIfe shows some of the local walking opportunities around the Ouse Washes, including at the Welney WWT reserve.

Squeezing alongside houses can be part of a walk, as it was for Woodman's Way route  near March - sourced by Lizzie Bannister

Squeezing alongside houses can be part of a route near March – sourced by Lizzie Bannister

Health benefits

Walking has become a popular health-related activity advocated by health professionals. Regular walking has been shown to reduce the risk of various illnesses and have many positive benefits. Cambridgeshire Mind recommends being active and taking more notice of the world to enhance wellbeing, which can be met by walking outdoors. To get the health benefits from walking, it needs to be faster than a stroll, which raises your heart rate and makes you break a sweat. Walking is an ideal exercise for most people – one that can be built up slowly in pace and distance as suitable.

two friends from the Great Fen Local Ramble group enjoying their walk while in conversation

Two friends from the Great Fen Local Ramble group enjoying their walk while in deep conversation

Walk anywhere!

Also, remember the countryside isn’t the only place to walk – towns and cities offer interesting walks including parks, heritage trails, riverside paths, commons, woodlands, heaths and nature reserves. Ely’s Country Park, for example, produced leaflets on walk routes, which involve trails that pass by the River Ouse, Roswell Pits, the Hereward Way and through an ecological and geological Site of Scientific Interest, and include magnificent views of Ely Cathedral. Your local towns and villages often have walks and routes – see your parish or local newsletters or magazines and parish council resources like websites for them.

The Great Fen Local Ramble group on The Woodman's Way near March on the way to Wimblington

The Great Fen Local Ramble group near March on the way to Wimblington – source: Lizzie Bannister

Walking is great for giving to charities, community involvement and social inclusion

Walking is a popular way for raising money for charity – whether through sponsorship to achieve great distances and individual aims for a charity that is close to the heart, or as a fun, collective activity where monies are generated by contributions and entry charges. The charities can be illness-related – for example, there is a 5km circular Walk for Macmillan in March. The emergency medical organisation of Magpas is one of many charities being supported by the Ouse Washes Experience (organised by the Ely Hereward Rotary Club), which people can choose to walk 8.5km or 17km, run 8.5km or cycle 11.5km, 17km or 32km on the 21st September.

Related posts:

Our Mini-Crusades into Projects and Events with Our Partners

The entry into mosaic-making at Mepal Outdoor Centre: Sourced by Nathan Jones
The entry into mosaic-making at Mepal Outdoor Centre. Source: Nathan Jones

Myself and Abby involved and enjoyed ourselves with a couple of events lately – the Community Murals Project at Mepal last Thursday and the RSPB “Your local home for Nature” event at Fen Drayton on the Sunday. We went on behalf of the Ouse Washes Landscape Partnership team wearing our OWLP T-shirts to support the project and our partners. logos

I helped out with creating the clouds in the mural, which was becoming a fantastic piece. It began to stunningly show the landscape and its wildlife in a large mosaic of beautiful flakes, jewel-like pieces and many colours. From its half-completion upon our entry at Mepal Outdoor Centre, it was quickly getting pulled together during the afternoon we were there, and I couldn’t wait to see the finished product! Few mothers and their children were hard at work being creative with glue, cutters and boxes of mosaics. We filled in the pictures drawn onto the marine plywood base and talked about the work in progress under the attentive guidance of artist Carolyn Ash. Several people came and went to admire or help out, and Abby took photographs, a video, notes and interviews to evaluate the event. They expressed positive enthusiasm and fun in the activity that brought out more understanding and appreciation of the landscape we are promoting.

In the process of the creation and evaluation of the mural and the workshop at Mepal. Sourced by Lizzie Bannister

In the process of the creation and evaluation of the mural and the workshop at Mepal. Source: Lizzie Bannister

We were back into our T-shirts the following weekend as part of the RSPB open day event at Fen Drayton.  I have often sped past on the Guided Busway, so it was great to be able to be on site for a change. We offered tasters of Ouse Washes Honey produced by Robert Taylor from Manea, and our mug game with Ouse Washes messages and jelly worms. We gave out promotional postcards with our contact details and website address under our banners and with the Heritage Lottery Fund posters. We explained and engaged people into our OWLP scheme, including about the Community Heritage Fund. We served tea, involved children to draw ideas they have about the Ouse Washes landscape and I stuck on alot of our OWLP stickers!

An example of work we got the people involved - to draw on postcards for the next murals event

An example of work we got the people involved – to draw on postcards for the next two murals event (this example was drawn at Mepal, the first mural event). Source: Nathan Jones

I also helped out the RSPB by making dragonflies with children and met some lovely RSPB people at this small event. I would be glad to come back again and explore more of Fen Drayton and build up my experience promoting OWLP at future public events.

Great artwork for us at our RSPB Fen Drayton open day stand! Sourced by Abby Stancliffe-Vaughan

Great artwork for us at our RSPB Fen Drayton open day stand! See the lovely dragonflies on the table too… Source: Abby Stancliffe-Vaughan

See the next event the OWLP team will be at, which is Haddenham Steam Rally on the 6th September!

Related posts:

Get into Mosaic-making this Bank Holiday Monday!

logosThe Ouse Washes Community Murals Project starts at Mepal on Bank Holiday Monday! Mepal is the first of the three places in our special, but little-known, area of East Anglia which stretches from Downham Market to St Ives that will have outdoor murals made by you and others in the communities from across the landscape! For free! You can freely come to these crafty workshops whenever and for however long you want all the week until end of Friday 29th August, and the workshop is held for one more day on the following Monday the 1st September. Anyone can have a go regardless of age and ability at creating these wonderful outdoors art features.

Carolyn Ash and a great outdoor murals - sourced from Ely Standard 24 - http://www.elystandard.co.uk/what-s-on/arts/learn_how_to_put_together_a_mosaic_at_unique_workshop_1_3734029?usurv=skip

Carolyn Ash and a great outdoor murals – sourced from Ely Standard 24

Denver and Welney are the other two places and workshops will be held at these places for their murals later in September then October. It was all made possible by a Heritage Lottery Grant successfully applied to by ADeC under the Ouse Washes: The Heart of the Fens Landscape Partnership Scheme. The murals were commissioned to become a permanent and pretty landscape feature the local people can be proud of because of their involvement in the workshops of the project. The scheme was set up to raise awareness and encourage greater local engagement with the landscape of the Ouse Washes to celebrate and highlight it and its value. Your ideas are also needed – we will give you postcards at the three locations where you can write down what makes the landscape special to you for the designs.

Carolyn Ash with a fabulous example - sourced by Jono Jarvis

Carolyn Ash with a fabulous example – sourced by Jono Jarvis

It will be led by talented artist Carolyn Ash, who will guide you through all aspects of this popular activity – it is the fun, creative and original thing to do for the whole family and to do with friends! As promoted in the Ely Standard24, on the Thursday and Friday between 10am-3.30pm, Carolyn will transform the resulting mosaic into a large outdoor mural.

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Trot on back to the Past this Weekend!

Heritage and Horses blog... Family shop to five minute of fame

Heritage and Horses blog… Family shop to five minute of fame – Sourced from Deborah Curtis of the Field Theatre Group

Littleport’s famous ironmongery shop – J H Adams – that had been unchanged since and restored to its 19th century state as a Heritage Lottery funded project is opening its doors again on Saturday 23 August from 10 am till 4pm.

The real Adams family is a welcoming bunch!

The real Adams family is a welcoming bunch! Sourced from J H Adams Heritage Centre

This Family Adams Project is a time capsule that documents the fascinating paraphernalia of the local shop and lives in Littleport and the Fens by displaying the items that were for sale to the shop ledgers used as well as the photographs and objects of the related past – including that of the horse, which played an important role back then. The J H Adams Heritage Centre of Main Street will be holding a second-hand book fair to raise its funds. Come and support it by having a browse through the fine selection of good quality books while enjoying teas and coffees with them! While there, you can see the paraphernalia, photographs and information of these beasts that tolled on the land and streets for man throughout the Fenland during the centuries. The shop was transformed into an old saddler’s shop that bustled with actors and a film crew back in April to create a community film about them.

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Film crew happily involved with the Horseman's Word

Film crew happily involved with the Horseman’s Word – sourced from Deborah Curtis of The Field Theatre Group

The Horseman’s Word is another recently finished but still continuing Heritage Lottery-Funded project ran by the Field Theatre Group, a community learning, inclusive and engagement organisation based in Littleport that combine performing arts with Fenland heritage and culture.

Under ADeC and in partnership with the Wisbech, Fenland and Ely museums, the Field Theatre Group got together film makers, researchers and experts to work on a good outcome of increased interest in the true stories about heavy horses from a previous Common Ground project that gathered and taught expression of local stories in sessions and workshops. People were invited to talk to horse experts and give in historical materials like memories and photographs in workshops. A travelling museum exhibition, an on-line archive, a history field day with a local primary school, a documentary DVD and drama workshops has been coming out of it all.

BBC Radio Cambridgeshire had aired an interview about this fascinating project on June 3rd last year, and the BBC took further interest in the heritage of the heavy horses lately. BBC Look East aired their filming of the Field Theatre Group’s filming on location for a production that includes/on heavy horses on the 6pm show on Tuesday 5th August this year, and the director, Deborah Curtis was interviewed by Kevin Burke about their activity and great work. The project has grew successfully from a previous one into its glamorous conclusions of being on BBC television air time, other location shoots like near Colchester earlier this month and promoting the learning, talents and skills of the local stars from Littleport.

The BBC film crew working with the heavy horses

The BBC film crew working with the heavy horses – sourced by Deborah Curtis of The Field Theatre Group

Related Posts:

Walking for work: Mixing business with pleasure

LogosI took the day off from my summer placement with the Ouse Washes: The Heart of the Fens – A Landscape Partnership Scheme (OWLP) to mix pleasure and business. I went on the Woodman’s Way walk at March and Wimblington, which is just outside the OWLP area. I found this walk on the Great Fen Project’s website and wanted to attend as it was around where I live and ride my pony on and would like to become more involved and to meet and enjoy the countryside with other people.

I also wanted to promoted OWLP and unleash my journalistic powers so came with a camera for this blog. I had already written my blog on part of the walk.

Our starting point at iconic St Wendreda of March

Our starting point at the iconic St Wendreda church of March

We started off with a scenic and historic meeting and brief lecture at St. Wendreda Church in March with the walk leader, Adrian Kempster, who informed us of the importance of the church because of its saint, an Anglo-Saxon princess who had healing powers, and the angel roof carvings. Being of the local tribe with these ramblers who never or rarely have been in the area, I was asked about directions by Adrian and we all went off at a jolly energetic pace. I quickly met a local March Ramblers’ leader assistant whose responsibility was to supervise for those lagging behind and we talked a lot on our way round. I was taking the photographs and I never considered myself as an amateur photographer before, so skills were also expanded from this walking experience.

Jolly start off under Fenland skyline onto farmland to the dismantled railway line

Jolly start off up track past the Neale-Wade Academy of March under Fenland skyline onto farmland to the dismantled railway line

To set the scene, the Woodman’s Way brought us through ancient wooded islands of March and Wimblington, which is reflected by the names we came across – Eastwood, Linwood, Hatchwood and Coneywood. From the unsteady track that took us away from the town, we entered the dismantled old railway line that is now a densely and diversely wooded and vegetated all along except when separated by tracks that remind us of the surrounding expansive arable landscape. We spotted interesting features along the way, including a horse paddock and variation in the track.

Down into an important and economic area of mixed land use

Down into an important and economic area of mixed land use near Hook Lane, Wimblington

We then took a detour into the industrialised farming area next to the Fengrain plant, down interesting enclosed footpaths, next to a plant nursery, into a village rife with farming activities followed by a lovely long and tree-lined loop back towards the path alongside the arable field next to the plant. Such tours offer a view of the important farming and horticultural economy in the Fenland. We then moved onto another diverse but not so densely wooded and vegetated track that has more challenging terrain.

In the real working and living Fenland countryside

In the real working and living Fenland countryside

We soon crossed the busy A141 bypass and were given sanctuary in the lovely St Peter church of Wimblington by the friendly people at the church and rested in the graveyard.

Exploring the Wimblington church of St Peter during our rest

Exploring the Wimblington church of St Peter during our rest

Refreshed and relieved, we set off at that same pace which puts strolling to shame into the village of Wimblington, which has a comprehensive range of services, across a large green then down a footpath into the outside village area (of Wimblington) towards March. We were soon travelling behind the houses (one of which is mine!) down another dense and diversely wooded and vegetated but narrower and grassier track, which is a byway. We came across a modern farmstead and lovely golf course, passed horse places and a deer farm before we crossed another byway with busy traffic. The track then lead us from farming and horses into a housing area of March. We interestingly went on a footpath alongside a house which led us onto a well hedged farmland with a ditch full of reed and other plants.

On the way back over farmland and next to different field boundaries

On the way back over farmland and next to different field boundaries next to March

From this, we worked our way behind urban settings to cross the graveyard church of St Wendreda and back to our cars.

My new friend kindly gave me and my worked legs a lift to our much needed refreshments at Weatherspoons in March.Afterwards, the tour was led to explore the March town. It had been a hot day but with a reasonable breeze and cloud cover so was favourable weather that encouraged a good turnout on this monthly (Wednesday) walk – the next Great Fen Local Group Ramble is on 12th November at Holme Fen!

I enjoyed the experience as I learnt more about my local environment, had some endorphins-boosting and rather energetic exercise and met some lovely people. This is all of the photogenic group modelling for me at our resting point in Wimblington!

The gang

The gang at St Peter church of Wimblington

Other related posts on nearby circular walks:

Mepal

Manea

Other circular walks in the area (near Wimblington):

Doddington