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Fen Causway

We went on a photowalk and ended up on the low-lying meadows that are cut through by the road that is named Fen Causeway.

Fen Causeway is a link road in Cambridge that was constructed in the mid-1920s to ease the pressure on other roads in the city. There was a lot of pubic objection to the road at the time because it intruded into what was a wild fen area.

There is an older Fen Causeway. It the name for a Roman road that runs from a junction with Ermine Street and King Street near Peterborough across the Cambridgeshire and Norfolk fens.

The route that the road took can be seen from the air. I googled for aerial photos of it and there are pages of them. Roman roads are easy to spot because they are straight as a die. Many times I have been driving along and realised I must be driving along the route of an old Roman road. They are very obvious.

Ermine Street ran from London to York in the north of England via Lincoln. It is about 200 miles long and is probably the most famous Roman road. I wonder whether teachers still teach of its existence?

You can see the low-lying ground here. At one time the fens stretched for many miles. That is until they were drained in the 1600s, mostly by an enforced workforce of Scottish prisoners who had fought on the side of Charles II in the last of the English Civil Wars.

13 replies on “Fen Causway”

So interesting to see this. Is there peat here? We actually have a very special piece of “peat bog” here in West Seattle. People are trying to restore it. Currently there is no water. It’s actually been called a fen, not a bog. But its name is Roxhill Bog. There is peat there. It’s of course in an area that’s been abused over the years and it’s on the brink of extinction unless they can act quickly. I hope they will be successful in restoring it.

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Yes, there is peat in the fens and it was cut for fuel in the past. But because the fens have been drained the peat has dried out and is vulnerable, so it is not cut any more. The upside of the drying out is that archeologists find ancient settlements.

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PS. Those narrow tall trees, I am guessing they are poplars, or cottonwoods. Do you know? They look exactly like the poplars we have here. They grow very tall.

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Actually that’s what I was just going to mention – that I’ve often noticed Willows growing like that after being split. There’s a family farm nearby where the trunk’s sections are so large it’s used in Summer as staging for their Art & Drama classes… It’s really rather surreal, watching the children scramble like Wendy’s Lost Boys along the massive elevated pathways, or perch with feet swinging…

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Years ago, when I lived about 300 yards from a river, I tore small willow branches about as thick as my little finger from a fallen tree. I planted them straight in the ground, no rooting powder, nothing, and they grew. I planted over a hundred of them along a boundary. They would be competing with each other for space and I wondered what the scene would be like ten years down the line. But I moved on and the willows may still be there.

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It was a while ago but my intention was to form a hedge. I would have done that by plashing the hedge, although I probably envisaged bending the trunks rather than cutting into the trunks, although that is an option.

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I googled it and I think you are right. The tree in question was on the Common opposite where I lived. It was a big tree and it had fallen over and was sprouting everywhere. I took the ‘cuttings’ / ‘torn-off bits’ from that. The Common was a lovely place. I remember walking there is the frozen winter and stamping my feet and could feel the ground was hollow from the many rabbit warrens. And I recall watching and listening to a woodcock roding in the dying light. I can see it all now.

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