We’re Low We’re Low
For a while now I’ve been meaning to travel deep into the flatlands to visit Holme Fen, supposedly the lowest land point in Great Britain. Obviously to manage such an achievement would take great planning and much effort, so on Saturday morning after a few minutes of clarification via the world wide web (admittedly not that much planning), I set out to make my mark.
To be honest living just under an hour away from Holme Fen did make the journey a little less arduous than had I been searching for height rather than depth, so in order to inject some jeopardy into the proceedings I did at least leave before sun-rise.
Originally Holme Fen sat within the Whittlesey Mere (at that time the largest lake in Southern England), which was drained by a group of local landowners in the mid 1800s in order to convert the area into (very successful) farmland. William Wells, the leader of the group, understood that draining the land would bring changes, so in order to help measure the evolving landscape he erected a post deep into the ground at the lowest point in the area.
The post (originally wood but replaced with cast iron a few years later) was set in 1848 with the top being cut level with the surface of the ground, and since that point the land around it has dropped by over 13 feet. In the picture above (taken before the sun came up) you can see the top of the post high above the ground, whilst the picture below shows two further marking points made as the years passed.
Holme Fen itself is one of the largest silver birch woodlands in Britain, contains several hectares of rare acid grassland and there’s still plenty of water to be found, despite the drainage that previously took place.
As ever with the fens, it’s a beautiful but somewhat peculiar landscape. And if my (admittedly very limited) experience is anything to go by it’s one that is largely ignored, as for the two or three hours I was there I didn’t see another soul.
Filed under: Place, Pyschogeography, Travel | Leave a Comment
Tags: Holme Fen, Lowes Point In Great Britain, The Fens, The Great Fen Project, We're Low We're Low, Whittlesey Mere, William Wells