An event-filled week in Willingham

Willingham Feast 2014

If you are looking for something to occupy your time over the next couple of weeks in the Ouse Washes area, you probably need look no further than the Willingham Feast logos2014.

Full programme of Events

With everything from a Feast Market to a Ceilidh and from a live music night to an exhibition in commemoration of World War I, there will be something for all interests.

The full programme of events is on the Willingham Life website, with a copy of the schedule below.

PROGRAMMEFEASTcover2014

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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:

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).

Dismantled railway line turned into great bridleway near March

 

In Logosmy introductory blog posted on the 18th July 2014, I mentioned a favourite ride on the old railway line that was taken out and transformed into a fabulous and popular public right of way.

Enjoying the old railway track

Enjoying the old railway track

The path is just outside March, which lies just outside the Ouse Washes Landscape Partnership area but is near Manea and within the wider Fenland area, and is therefore typical of the local tourism, recreational and countryside scene.

This dismantled railway line used to run from Chatteris, through Wimblington – which had its station that is now demolished – to March on the line from London to Kings Lynn, it ran from 1879 to the 1990s: http://www.disused-stations.org.uk/w/wimblington/

The railway track was always important and regularly used by passengers and freight until the numbers of trains dwindled and the track then persisted as a diversion route. The A141 bypass now follows the line to the south to Chatteris and bypasses Wimblington and Doddington. There are quite a lot of railway lines in East Anglia that have fallen out of use and become public rights of ways or have been preserved as historic artefacts – there’s a disused railway line at Somersham Nature Reserve, where there is also a lake following gravel extraction for the railway. You can read more about it here.

The railway line ride is part of Woodman’s Way and legally a footpath but it is signed as a permissive bridleway, which means the land owner has given permission for it to be used as a bridleway but this permission can be withdrawn at any time. It is a 2 mile ride to Wimblington from March.

The signpost and surrounding landsacpe

The signpost and surrounding landscape

A map of the circular route is in the Cambridgeshire County Council’s leaflet, which has other information about the area, including historical facts. Visit this link.

I usually go down the railway line as part of a circular route that includes carefully crossing the A141 Isle of Ely bypass to and from Wimblington and most of the route shown in the leaflet – I can only go down Knight End Road on my pony! – but occasionally I go one way then back, sometimes both at fast paces! I usually pass several other users so I am always careful. At the March end, it is accessible by a rough byway track that also continues onto the farmland. The choice is nice but I often do take the railway line because it offers a nice canter and interesting ride that is rich with butterflies and birds and has a verge of wildflowers, shrubs and grasses with the trees either side.

Mysterious and green way!

Many species of trees line the path and partly obscure the views of open arable land and a horse pasture. The trees are typical of the higher and drier areas of fenland (e.g hawthorn, willow and oak) on the clay hills of March, Wimblington and Doddington and represent the wildwood that surrounded the area inbetween deforestation and raised water levels over the last few thousands years. The varying types of trees of similar heights make the ride spectacular and fun – you would have to duck under some branches and ride along many features and shapes of trees. The ground is in good condition most of the way with little grass and became rough with trampling, wear and wet in a few places so good footwear is recommended. Some of the ground has been covered with bark surface by the community service to improve the surface enjoyed by riders, cyclists and walkers.

Other related posts on nearby circular walks:

Mepal

Manea

Other circular walks in the area (near Wimblington):

Doddington

Sutton Gault Day – Sunday 29th June 2014

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Abby and Mark from OWLP are attending Sutton Gault Day on Sunday 29th June 2014, looks like lots of fun – poster here

Capture

The Ely Standard piece about last year and photos are well worth a look, please accept my apologies for the brevity of this post but I must get on and organise the fishing game, wiggly worm contest and ‘wordle’ that we are taking with us!

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Our ‘Ouse Washes’ fishing game at a local event last summer

Other blogs on the area/ events:

The Sutton area and surroundings

Other events that we are attending

The Community Heritage Funds grants that we are promoting

Circular Walks in OWLP area – part 2 : Manea

Series of circular walks and ridesLogos

So here it is, the second instalment of the series of circular walks and rides! Following on from Mark’s excellent first blog of the series all about a circular walk in Mepal, this second entry in the series looks at a walk which starts and finishes in Manea.

Manea

Manea is a village which is found at about the half way point along the Landscape Partnership area, and it is a place with a surprising amount of history; for example Charles I had designs to build a new Capital City here (although, it has to be said, it was never built!). Welches Dam, just outside Manea, was also host to another Fenland oddity: The Floating Church, which used to travel the Fenland waterways offering religious services to local communities. It was moored at Welches Dam for two years from 1904. And then there are the fantastic stories surrounding the 19th century utopian Manea Colony.

The Walk

As always with Fenland walks, this one gives you the opportunity to experience the traditional Fen landscape with its massive skies and flat horizons.

Distance 6.3 miles (10.1km); Minimum time 3hrs; Ascent/gradient Negligible; Level of difficulty Medium; Paths Lanes and hard farm tracks; Landscape Wide, flat fields separated by ditches and drainage channels; Suggested map aqua3 OS Explorer 228 March & Ely. (All information and detailed description of the walk can be found on the AA Website from which the map below is taken).

As an alternative at point 3 on the map, you can turn left to take you along the route of the former light railway used to transport earthwork reinforcements to the flood banks of the Old Bedford River. All the details of this walk can be found by following this link to the AA website.

Alternatives

There are several footpaths in and around Manea (as you can see on the map below) so it is quite possible to find your own circular walk. Be warned though, some footpaths marked on the map may be closed for part of the year (during the bird breeding season),

Manea map showing the position of Interpretation Panels.

Manea map showing the position of Interpretation Panels. Source: Cambridgeshire County Council Rural Group

although you should always be able to find an alternative route if you find you are confronted by a shut gate!

A copy of this map is available to download from here.

This map also has marked on it the position of some interpretation panels which will be installed as part of the Manea Community Conservation Project, which is one of the projects of this Landscape Partnership Scheme. (You can see all the partners and link through to their websites on the OWLP Partnership page.) These interpretation panels have been deliberately placed along the route that is taken by the local children between the school and The Pit.

I hope that this blog will inspire some people to take the opportunity to visit Manea and take a stroll through its local countryside. It’s certainly inspired me – keep an eye out for updates to this post with pictures from my trip.

A New Face Joins the Team.

LogosHello

My name is Jonathan Jarvis and on 1st May I joined the Ouse Washes Landscape Partnership as its newest member of staff.


One of the sluices at Denver

One of the sluices at the Denver complex

 

New to the Area

As someone who is new to the area (both geographically and in terms of the type of project we’re running) I am looking forward with great excitement to learning about the area around my new home.

 

Although I have joined the team to deal with the financial claims processing in relation to the Heritage Lottery Funding, I am very keen to learn about the area, its history and its unique features, and to get involved in the project in as many different ways as possible. I have already enjoyed some excursions in and around schemes which will be supported by the project, and I have enjoyed every one.

I’m also greatly looking forward to getting volunteers involved in the program, and doing my best to pass on some of the enthusiasm I feel for opening up the area to local people and visitors.

The sluice at Denver - controlling the flow

The sluice at Denver – controlling the flow

Those involved in the project may well encounter me dealing with any general project enquiries or offering assistance anywhere to ‘help out’.

 

Meet and Greet

I hope to meet those involved in the project soon and look forward to working with them in relation to their diverse interests and areas of expertise.

 

Circular ~ Walks and Rides

I will also be taking on the responsibility for our circular walk blogs, so if you know of any good circular walks in the area – one of those well kept secrets! – please do let me know and I will do my best to incorporate it into the series.

Plaque dedicated to 350 years of flood alleviation begun by Vermuyden

Plaque dedicated to 350 years of flood alleviation begun by Vermuyden

 

I will be in the office on a part-time basis: every week Monday to Wednesday.

Jono blog picture