New job with RSPB for Ouse Washes LP scheme – now open

logosFollowing from previous staffing posts created for the WWT, Green Light Trust and for the Rosmini Centre, a fourth position with the OWLP key partners is now made available through the Ouse Washes Landscape Partnership scheme – with the RSPB, who is looking for a Community Engagement Officer.

This is an exciting opportunity to work closely with local farmers and conservation organisations, to help promote and enhance wildlife friendly farming in the Cambridgeshire Fens.

This position will be crucial to the delivery of the RSPB project within the OWLP scheme called ‘Wildlife Friendly Farming & Community Engagement’; the main aim, of this project is to bring wildlife-friendly farmers together in the vicinity of the Ouse Washes Landscape Partnership area, to deliver an integrated community engagement programme designed to promote awareness of, learning about and on-going access to the area’s unique farm wildlife and archaeological heritage.

 

The post, which went live on Monday, is described as such:

We are looking for an enthusiastic and engaging person to grow our farm wildlife conservation efforts in the Cambridgeshire Fens, by increasing awareness, understanding and support for nature-friendly farming in the local community.

The RSPB has been successful in securing Heritage Lottery funding as part of the Ouse Washes Landscape Partnership, to help local people reconnect with a rich natural and cultural farmland heritage.

You will work closely with local nature-friendly farmers to design and deliver a programme of events, talks and wildlife ID training for local residents, schools and farmers.

By encouraging people of all ages to engage with their landscape through farm walks and activities, you will build support for nature-friendly farming and local producers, and enable farmers to tell the story of their work and the benefits for wildlife, ensuring continued support in the future,

An excellent communicator, you will have demonstrable experience of organising public events, as well as in-depth knowledge of farm wildlife and the challenges it faces.

With an office base at Welches Dam, Manea, you will be expected to undertake regular travel in the local area and elsewhere within the Fens.

 

The closing date for applications is 20 October 2014.

For the full job details and finding out how to apply, go to http://www.rspb.org.uk/vacancies/details/383486-community-engagement-officer

local kids on a bug hunt on a wildlife-friendly farm

Families on a bug hunt on a wildlife-friendly farm. Image: copyright Niki Williamson / RSPB.

 

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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.

Open Farm Sunday 8th June 2014

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A timely piece from the National Farmers Union (NFU) about school children wanting to visit farms leads us nicely into Open Farm Sundays (8th June 2014) in the Ouse Washes Landscape Partnership area and the wider Fens: 


Open Farm Sunday Park Farm, Thorney

 

Check out Hainey Farm, Barway –http://bit.ly/1pI5XAb; Cornerways Lane, Wissington – http://bit.ly/1rOhM9N; Redmoor Fruit Farm, Wisbech –  http://bit.ly/UeLbLH; Manea School of Gardening, Manea – http://bit.ly/1i618sO; Park Farm, Thorney – http://bit.ly/1jV0bmJ 

Capture

ENJOY!

Torn asunder – The Fenland Parish of Coveney

LogosThe Ouse Washes Landscape Partnership (OWLP) area is fully of fascinating local stories, the ‘hidden heritage’ of local community stories.

The following was kindly provided to me a while ago by Rev. Peter Taylor, who is Honorary Priest-in-charge of Coveney and Rural Dean of Ely; he represents the Diocese of Ely on the OWLP Board.

Coveney’s church

Coveney is typical of many fen edge and fen island parishes. The high ground of the island has provided the location for the main settlement and year-round agriculture, and which was combined with a hinterland of fen marshland.

The church was built on the highest point of the island. Originally a simple rectangular structure erected in first half of the 13th century, a porch and the first two stages of the tower were added during the following century. The tower was completed in the 15th century and no further significant changes took place for 400 years.

Coveney Church

The Church of St Peter ad Vincula, Coveney. Image reproduced with kind permission from Rev. Peter Taylor.

Manea was part of the Coveney parish

The fen hinterland extended some 5 miles northwards to include the low-lying island of Manea. Initially, this land was not reliably dry all year round, but did provide valuable summer grazing. Gradually, with lowering sea levels and some improvement in drainage, a small settlement became established.

Communication was straightforward. A waterway ran from the edge of Coveney island to Downham Hythe. From there, the Ox Lode crossed the fen to Manea before linking up with other waterways around Chatteris.

The ambitious drainage schemes of the 17th century cared nothing for such ancient water highways. The digging of the two Bedford Rivers severed the Ox Lode rendering it useless and cut the ancient parish of Coveney in half.

Revd Richard Taylor’s 1830 diary

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Revd. Richard Taylor. Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard_Taylor_(missionary)

 Something of the inconvenience this caused can be gleaned from the journal of the Revd Richard Taylor who was Curate of Coveney in the 1830s. He records frequent journeys to minister to his parishioners in Manea which involved crossing the New Bedford river by boat, walking half a mile across the washes, crossing the Old Bedford river and then walking a further two miles to Manea.

 

 

 

 

Returning on one occasion late in the evening, he discovered the ferryman had gone to bed and spent almost an hour trying to raise him from the far bank. Then as now, the washes were frequently flooded and in February 1833 Taylor records taking a funeral in Manea and finding the water in the washes more than 3 feet deep at the shallowest point. That, together with the wind ‘rendered the passage very stormy’.

Going down under

Richard Taylor left Coveney in 1836 to go as a missionary to New Zealand where he was subsequently involved in drawing up the Treaty of Waitangi. To find out more about Richard Taylor’s involvement down under, see http://www.teara.govt.nz/en/biographies/1t22/taylor-richard

He had been a strong advocate for separate pastoral provision for the two halves of Coveney parish. Eventually, with the break up of the ancient manorial estates in 1883, Manea became a parish in its own right thus formalising the division which the Ouse Washes had created some two centuries earlier.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Related posts:

 

The new OWLP Landscape Boundary

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As part of the development phase works we have reconsidered the boundary for the OWLP scheme area. This was included in the work done as part of the Landscape Character Assessment , commissioned by the Ouse Washes Landscape Partnership to Sheils Flynn.

Redrawing the boundary

For our stage 1 submission, back in early 2012, the boundary drawn was still relatively simple. Not anymore. Following the recent finalisation of the Landscape Character Assessment for the OWLP area and the Landscape Conservation Action Plan as part of our stage 2 submission, I can now show you the final results of this work.

First of all, spot the differences:

A4_Boundary

Boundary as drawn for the OWLP’s stage 1 application, February 2012

337-LA-10 - Parish Boundaries

OWLP boundary as defined for the stage 2 submission, November 2013. Map created by Sheils Flynn for OWLP. Contains Ordnance Survey data © Crown copyright and database right 2013 – not to be reproduced.

In their comments on our stage 1 bid, the HLF considered the OWLP area boundary somewhat vague and arbitrary; despite numerous hours of discussion between partners had already gone into this.

A coherent landscape

A requirement for the stage 2 submission was, thus, to come up with a better described, understood and more coherent boundary. The new landscape boundary is based on careful consideration of a number of related factors:

  • The boundary surrounds a strongly coherent landscape. The vast majority of the OWLP landscape is below the 5 m contour line.This is a distinct landscape, with a unique history, linear waterways, significant wetlands and which plays an important role in food production, drainage and flood prevention.
  • The boundary is driven by the landscape using natural boundaries.
  • The boundary is understood by local people – as part of the community consultations held during the Audience & Access work, people were shown draft versions of the new map, to which people responded positively, as the boundary line follows local landscape features such as roads, drains and other, locally recognised landscape features.
  • The boundary reflects historic patterns of land use: the ‘territory’ associated with the Fen Isle villages, including for instance historic field patterns, droveways and outlying farmsteads, together describe historic patterns of land use and the present-day sense of community in this part of the Fens. Settlements developed on ‘islands’ of higher land in an otherwise expansive and historically marshy landscape. The most productive arable fields were concentrated on the more elevated, relatively well-drained land surrounding the villages, with pasture on seasonally water-logged meadows. The marshy fenlands, which covered vast areas of the Fen Basin, were an important economic resource, used for cutting peat, reeds and sedge and to provide a constant supply of wildfowl, fish and eels.
  • The boundary contains a relatively empty landscape, with a scatter of settlements on the areas of higher land on and around the edge; relatively well-drained soils fringe the low-lying fen that was the focus of the Ouse Washes drainage scheme. The settlements function as individual gateways to the central, lower landscape.
  • The boundary coincides with the historic road pattern: the alignment of roads and causewayed tracks connects the villages and forms a loose ring around the Ouse Washes.
  • The boundary contains an internationally significant wetland landscape: recent wetland and fen restoration projects and opportunities for new wetlands as part of the Great Ouse Wetland and Fens Wetland Vision projects contribute to the international value of the Ouse Washes and have the potential to provide superb opportunities for public access, recreation and environmental education.

Crossing multiple boundaries

The OWLP area covers two Counties (Cambridgeshire and Norfolk), five different Districts (Kings Lynn & West Norfolk BC, Fenland DC, East Cambridgeshire DC, Huntingdonshire DC and South Cambridgeshire DC) and no less than 29 Parishes.

In the process of redefining the boundary for the OWLP landscape, the total area increased from 199 km2 at the stage 1 bid to 243 km2 now, stretching for 48.5 km between Denver and Downham Market at the northern end and Fen Drayton and St Ives to its south.

The OWLP residents

The OWLP area contains 25 villages/settlements which are either fully or partially within, or directly abutting the area’s boundary:

  • In Norfolk these are Denver, Salters Lode, Fordham, Nordelph, Ten Mile Bank, Welney, Tipps End and Lakes End.
  • The Cambridgeshire settlements are Manea, Pymoor, Wardy Hill, Coveney, Witcham, Mepal, Sutton, Earith, Aldreth, Over, Swavesey, Fen Drayton, Holywell, Needingworth, Bluntisham, Colne and Somersham.
  • Close by are also the settlements of Hemingford Grey, Willingham, Haddenham and Little Downham (Cambridgeshire) and Hilgay (Norfolk).

The resident population of the LP area is 33,010. Outside the Ouse Washes LP area the neighbouring towns within a c10km zone are Downham Market, Littleport, Ely, Chatteris, March, St Ives, Huntingdon and Cambridge; they have a collective resident population of 236,688. The OWLP scheme’s delivery phase focuses on both the local residents and market town residents.

337-LA-001 - Location Map

Ouse Washes Landscape Partnership area – Location Map. Map created by Sheils Flynn for OWLP. Contains Ordnance Survey data © Crown copyright and database right 2013 – not to be reproduced.

Click on the above map (X 2) to zoom in; the maps displayed here can also be viewed in our Resources section.

What do you think?

What do you think? Does this boundary indeed reflect local people’s perceptions of what makes a coherent landscape? Let me know your thoughts – click on the balloon at the top to leave a comment, or contact me directly. Thank you.

 

Related Posts:

 

Meet the Team

Heritage Lottery FundMy colleagues at Cambridgeshire ACRE are carrying out a series of community consultations across the length of the Ouse Washes landscape area (see also Peter’s recent post here). In addition, we will also have a presence at stands at several local festivals over the summer period.

Sutton in the Isle Village Sign Side 1

Sutton in the Isle Village sign. Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/eaglekepr/5139578331/

To begin with, you can meet the Ouse Washes Landscape Partnership team this Saturday (29 June) at Sutton Gault. As part of the Sutton Festival, this Saturday a great programme is planned for Gault Day.

Although focused on local residents and families, the festival would certainly have a wider appeal, with a focus on fun activities and Fenland life. I have reliably been informed that the programme will also include: the annual Duck Race; Pooh Sticks race; a bouncy castle; face painting; kite flying. There will also be Peter Carter, the last Eel Catcher, bringing his punt gun and firing it (apparently);  beehives; displays about old Sutton and village life; plus a remote-controlled helicopter, and a number of classic british motorcycles; and performances by local musicians. For more information about the events and the rest of the activities of the Sutton Feast, see here

So, come and meet me this Saturday to have a chat about what you like about the area or what you think could be improved, fill in one of our consultation surveys, or try to catch some Ouse Washes fish!

Our next display will be at Manea at the very popular Manea Gala. This event will be held two weeks later, Saturday 13 July.

See here for a first impression of what will be on offer that day at the Manea Gala

I hope to see you soon!

Fenland History on Friday lectures continued

Heritage Lottery FundI am pleased to announce the continuation of the highly successful Fenland History on Friday lectures series throughout April and May. As before – and highlighted in this previous blog post -, these lectures are held in Ely Library from 10.30 to noon. All are welcome (£2.50 on the door).

The following interesting topics remain to be told:

April 19th         Mainly Manea: reflections on a fenland settlement – Ursula Berry

April 26th        Cromwell’s settlers, 17th-century Thorney: the hidden story of the Huguenots who settled on the drained Fenland  – Margaret Fletcher

May 3rd            Leonard Jenyns, the Gilbert White of Cambridgeshire – Richard Preece

May 10th          Reflections on the stories and characters of the Bedford Rivers – Mike Petty

Download here the flyer for this series: Fenland History on Friday Poster April and May 2013

For more information, check out www.cambridgeshirehistory.com/MIkePetty, or contact Mike Petty on 01353 648106

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Fen landscape; taken at Wicken Fen. Photo by Patricia Kreyer, all rights reserved.