Followers of this blog will have an idea about the number of photographs I have taken of the Cambridgeshire Fenlands. I had many images on this theme and collated them in a book using the Bookwright software. What you will find here is an edited collection and some of these shots you may have already seen. Most of the captures included were taken during the Winter of 2020/21 at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic; maybe that is why they are so dark. For me, these are archetypal images of the land I walk across and cycle through every day. It is where I live. Others will see this place very differently but this is a personal interpretation of the landscape, the roads, tracks, rivers, dykes, droves and the wetlands of East Anglia.
At first sight, this looks like a mirror image, but it is a photograph of one of the arrow-straight tree lines seen across the Fenlands. Why there are two rows of trees planted side by side, I really don’t know; it is unlikely to be an aesthetic decision because it is so difficult to walk between them.
Anthony Trollope (1815 -1882) writes about the Fen landscape and he says, ‘a country walk less picturesque could hardly be found in England’. Trollope was familiar with the fens through his work as a surveyor for the Post Office but was unimpressed by the landscape. I think he was wrong, the Fenland landscape can be absolutely wonderful, as you can see here. There is a poetry in this place, you just have to open your mind and heart, you will see it.
Leaving Mile End Road, just after the village of Prickwillow and following the River Lark for a mile or so, you find a part of the Fenland that is very much off the beaten track. In the fog, the landscape takes on a different mantle and there is a genuine sense of remoteness and isolation. There must be more telegraph poles here than any other area of the UK, and in the soft peat soils of the Cambridgeshire Fenlands they take on a range of jaunty angles. As a mere beginner, just deviating from the perpendicular, it will be a long and epic journey for this pole to reach the customary 30 or 40 degrees.
On the road to Pymoor, three container lorries arranged side by side in a field look for all the world like three birds in a nest, mouths wide open, waiting expectantly. A surreal vision in the Cambridgeshire Fenland.
Just south of Primrose Hill Farm, where Poplar Drove becomes Hale Fen Road, I caught sight of a farm building on the far horizon. I left the car at the side of the track and walked for half a mile across open fields, crunching the wheat stubble and water logged ground beneath my boots. The watery sun was catching the gable end of the barn, and a halo of soft light animated the space around the buildings. I took a series of photographs whilst walking towards the farm and kept my fingers crossed the fast changing skies would leave a window of opportunity. The photograph published here here was one of a series I took at Hale Fen this morning.