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

Time of day

Lovely images from Bill Blake of the Earith Civil War Bulwark – captured – through kite aerial photography – as part of the work he does for the Ouse Washes Landscape Partnership scheme including for the Cambridge Archaeological Unit’s project to take place around this location in a month or so.

Billboyheritagesurvey's Blog

I’m shooting an earthwork monument for photogrammetry, and its taken months of patient work by the team at OWLP to get all the required consents, so as soon as I got the email from Natural England confirming permission and the cloud cleared, off I went, got there at 10am and flew for an hour.

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The results were disappointing, sure I got the cover, but this is a pale ghost of what I know to be there: most of the features I wanted to record were almost invisible. I returned on the same day at 6pm and tried to repeat the path. What a difference! Low light is much better than overhead. I knew this of course but had hoped the 10am shoot would have been just enough before noon to be effective. In August at this latitude it’s just not the case.

Time of day

Left:10am right 6pm

On the return that evening…

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Have a meander along your river

Do you live in or near Welney, Denver, March or Ely? They have something in common… Can you guess what they all have? Rivers! They all have their own character and issues. Would you like to enjoy and learn about your local Fenland rivers?

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This is a chance to enjoy a lovely, informative and sociable walk along some of our local rivers whilst discussing and gaining an understanding of issues and impacts upon these and other Fenland rivers and on the Ouse Washes. It will be a laid-back endeavour with stops to view the scenery and features, or to chat and take photographs.

The Ouse Washes

The Ouse Washes. Image by Bill Blake Heritage Documentation, all rights reserved.

A partnership (The Water Care Partnership) is working to investigate and work towards solutions for the problems these rivers face and which have been pointed out by the Environment Agency. This is where you and your ideas and involvement comes in! It is important to consider local communities’ perspectives and skills in the care and management of these valuable natural resources.

Everyone and anyone are welcome on these ‘Riverside Walks and Talks’ however the walks may not be suitable for some people like wheelchair users. Light refreshments will be provided and you can find out how to get involved with protecting your local environment.

There are four walks around the area, all of which will be approximately 2 miles and may take up to 2.5 hours.

Welney – Sunday 14th September 10am

“A catchment based approach to the Old Bedford and Middle Level catchment”

River at Welney

River Delph at Welney

Riverside Walk and Talk Invitation – Welney

Ely – Sunday 14th September 2pm

“Our part in the bigger picture”

River at Ely

River Great Ouse at Ely

Riverside Walk and Talk Invitation – Ely

Denver – Saturday 20th September 10am

“A catchment based approach to the Old Bedford and Middle Level catchment”

River at Denver

The Tidal River and New Bedford River at Denver

Riverside Walk and Talk Invitation – Denver

March – Saturday 20th September 2pm

“A catchment based approach to the Old Bedford and Middle Level catchment”

River at March

River Nene at March

Riverside Walk and Talk Invitation – March

Bookings are now being taken for the Riverside Walk and Talk events hosted by Cambridgeshire ACRE for the Water Care Partnership. Places are limited and so to book your place(s), please visit: www.smartsurvey.co.uk/s/walkandtalk. For more information on the work of the Water Care Partnership please visit www.watercarepartnership.wordpress.com. If you have any questions regarding any of the walks, please contact Jennie Thomas (Jennifer.thomas@cambsacre.org.uk or 01353 865044).

What is Community KAP?

Logos– This is a guest post by Bill Blake, one of the key partners in the OWLP partnership ; the original version was published at http://billboyheritagesurvey.wordpress.com/2014/04/15/what-is-community-kap/

What is Community KAP?

This is an activity, open to all ages and abilities (subject to appropriate supervision) that is relaxing, fun and places one in the landscape in a unique way.

What is it? KAP stands for Kite Aerial Photography and was invented in the 19th cent by Artur Batut in France, it has caught on in the modern age as we have cheap digital cameras, we are no longer at the mercy of the  plate negative!

The benefit of the method is 2 fold, first the capture of images of the landscape from a new viewpoint, second the flying of kites is good way to spend some time outdoors learning the ways of the wind. Most of the time we tend not to raise our eyes to the sky, most of what concerns our lives is firmly earthbound.  Choosing to look at where we live from the sky can be as easy as browsing Google Earth but what we see there gets fuzzy and indistinct when we look closely at the details of the landscape, recording from the much lower viewpoint a kite offers us a much closer to how we experience the world, just different enough to be new and involving.

KAP groupHow is this a community activity? The best outcomes are from the combined efforts of teamwork: a kite flier and a photographer. As a group activity a variety of outcomes are possible: with patience and a good number of photos an aerial panorama is possible by building up a montage of images, large scale photo-maps are  also made by fitting a ‘carpet’ of images together. By flying several kites together (at a safe distance apart!) surprisingly rich records of the locale are achieved.

What’s special about kite aerial pictures? Simply put it’s the resolution. At the height of the kite patterns and textures are uniquely visible.

Aldreth Causeway High BridgeIs it safe? Because every site has different hazards KAP needs careful planning. This is where I come in: I have been doing this professionally for 5 years now and a risk assessment is made for each location prior to agreeing a safe method of working.  The risks are small but real, kites can give you line burn, make you run backwards into things and end up tangled in trees or worse. Depending on  group ability and desired outcome location and timing are chosen carefully to manage risk. Compared to playing in a football match flying a kite is safe!

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Backs of Houses

Why is this part of Ouse Washes Landscape Partnership? The opportunity to provide the project with arresting images of the landscape acquired by community groups is valuable: to see the landscape from above is revealing, to be part of the process is rewarding. As the project develops many images of habitat, land-use, art projects and event records, are needed to illustrate the landscape on sign-age, site interpretation and web pages.

Drying Washes PymoorCommunity KAP is a project funded by OWLP and is now live, so let’s get started, I’m available for demonstration, talks, risk assessment and project planning for your group!

 

Related OWLP posts:

Flooding in the Fens: 1947 floods

LogosFlooding is a hot topic at the moment. East Anglia, unlike other parts of the UK, is thankfully still spared the worst of flooding.

Nevertheless, all waters in the Ouse Washes Landscape Partnership area and the Ouse Washes itself are very high at the moment and the crossings at Welney and Sutton Gault remain flooded.

Article on 1947 floods

Mike Petty kindly sent me an article he wrote about historic flooding of the Fens. Mike Petty is one of the key partners in the OWLP Landscape Partnership scheme and is a well-known Cambridgeshire historian. He has a weekly column in the Cambridge News, reporting on the history of the area.

This week’s piece, 2014 02 03, showcases some dramatic images of the 1947 floods. The floods in February and March 1947 were devastating for the local communities. In all, 34 of England’s counties were affected by the 1947 floods, but the southern Fens were hit particularly hard.

Mike’s article focuses on the military efforts to save homes and lives and to try to restore breached banks. Images of the 1947 floods survive which were taken by the local press. However, a local man, Walter Martin Lane, an Ely shop manager had also joined the army on several of their expeditions in the area. Lane’s dramatic but beautiful pictures are now preserved in the Cambridgeshire Collection.

You can download Mike Petty’s full article here: 2014 02 03

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Image courtesy of Mike Petty/ Cambridgeshire Collection

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Image courtesy of Mike Petty/ Cambridgeshire Collection

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Image courtesy of Mike Petty/ Cambridgeshire Collection

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Image courtesy of Mike Petty/ Cambridgeshire Collection

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Image courtesy of Mike Petty/ Cambridgeshire Collection

As part of the Ouse Washes Landscape Partnership’s Delivery phase, Martin Lane’s photographs, some of which are in private collection, will be digitised and made publicly available, to commemorate this major event in the Ouse Washes 70 years ago in 2017, the end-date of our scheme.

Capture

One of Martin Lane’s images, showing a submerged farm bungalow (Palmer’s Farm) during the 1947 floods. Photo courtesy of Lorna Delanoy.

Related posts:

Picture Perfect

LogosWishing you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Denver Sluice_Image by Paul Bunyard, @wildaboutimages

Denver Sluice_Image by Paul Bunyard, @wildaboutimages

Hundred Foot River_Norfolkwren

Hundred Foot. Images by @Norfolkwren

December Dawn at Ouse washes_RSPB The Fens

December Dawn at RSPB Ouse Washes. Image by @RSPBFens

Damselfly Sutton Gault_Rob Mills

Damselfly at Sutton Gault_Image by Rob Mills, @Skully_Bob

eals on Great Ouse_Paul Separovic

Seals on River Great Ouse_Image by Paul Separovic, @PaulSeparovicEA

Common Crane at RSPB Ouse Washes_Jason Ward

Common Crane at RSPB Ouse Washes_Image by Jason Ward, @Jayward7

Cattle on reserve_Jon Reeves

Cattle on RSPB Ouse Washes reserve_Image by Jon Reeves, @jonriverside

Barn Owl_Paul Bunyard

Barn Owl_Image by Paul Bunyard, @wildaboutimages

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Lock keeper cottage at Welches Dam. Image: Cambridgeshire ACRE

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Earith Bulwark. Kite Aerial Photography image by Bill Blake Heritage Documentation, All Rights Reserved

The Ouse Washes in flood   Bill Blake Heritage Documentation, All Rights Reserved

The Ouse Washes in flood. Kite Aerial Photography image by Bill Blake Heritage Documentation, All Rights Reserved

New Heritage Lottery Fund projects in the Fenland area

Heritage Lottery FundIn East Anglia two other Heritage Lottery funded projects have started recently. As there are clear links with our work in both projects, I wanted to share this with you as well. These are Fenland Lives & Land and Eighth In The East; both projects are looking at the history of the area, with the Fenland Lives & Land looking at different aspects of life in the Fens in the past and the Eighth In The East looking at the history of the World War 2 US Airfields in East Anglia.

Fenland Lives & Land

With the Fenland Lives & Land project there are exhibitions going in a range of museums, communities and schools across the Fens, celebrating the extraordinary landscape of the area and which will be going for 3 years; its launch was last week Thursday.

The five exhibitions are focused on the following five themes:

  • Constructing the Past: Ancient Crafts and Engineering
  • The Wild Fens: A Journey back to Ancient landscapes
  • Living on Land & Water: Discover a World of Waterways
  • Trading Stories: A Century of Fenland Shops, Pubs and Trade
  • Bread or Blood

Each of these themes will be explored in different parts of the Fens, from the history of the ens to what was being sold in traditional shops and pubs throughout the centuries, to changes to Fenland farms over time with the effect of the Downham Riots of 1816 which resulted because of the hard economic hardship faced by farms, workers and soldiers who were returning from the Napoleonic Wars. These exhibitions will be going on for 3 years all across all Fenland museums.

For more information, see the project’s website (http://www.fensmuseums.org.uk/index.aspx) and this useful leaflet (http://www.fensmuseums.org.uk/documents/Fenland_Generic_Leaflet.pdf).

Eighth in the East

This project was recently awarded £575,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund to record the history of East Anglia airfields used by the United States during World War 2. The project aims to work with local museums to get stories of Americans who served and the stories of local people who lived near the bases between 1942 and 1945.

The project will look at the 67 airfields in the East which provided bases for USAF bombing raids over Germany. About 200,000 US personnel served in East Anglia in what became known as the ‘friendly invasion’.

This is a 3-year project and hopefully by the end of the project there will be a large amount of information about that time in East Anglia. With this information there cycling and walking tours may be created to these sites and museums will have more information on want was happening in East Anglia during the ‘friendly invasion’ by the Americans.

USA

World War II US airfields in East Anglia project to record history. Source:http: //www.idaventry.com/pin/world-war-ii-us-airfields-in-east-anglia-project-to-record-history/

Look here (https://ousewasheslps.wordpress.com/2013/08/14/hidden-heritage-mepal-airfield/) for an earlier blog post about the WW2 use of the airfield in Mepal, which is located within the Ouse Washes Landscape Partnership area.