12 JANUARY 1940, Page 22


Fens in Frost No part of England is so little known or appreciated by the general public as the Fens, that most fertile stretch of land, mostly in the shires of Huntingdon and Cambridge, which was reclaimed for us by Dutch engineers and the Dukes of Bedford, and indeed by Charles I, who was keener than that hostile Huntingdon inhabitant, Oliver Cromwell. It is a question whether the district is best worth a visit in frost or harvest-time ; but I think the frosts have it. To give a merely personal impression. Of all the English journeys that ever I made the very best was through the Fens in winter. A little party of us boarded a comparatively small ditch within a few yards of Holme Station to the south of Peterborough, and skated without ceasing all day, finishing up on the old Nene. The ditch gave us the freedom of the Fens. It led into a network of dykes, mostly named from their exact breadth—the 2o-foot or i6-foot or what not. It would be interesting to discover how many miles a good skater (on runners not rollers) could compass within a day. Skating there, as in Holland, is a real mode of motion and the most rhythmic of all modes. It is the dyke, not such meres as Lingay, that are the essence of the Fen country ; and what higher praise could you give to any region than to say that its drains are very lovely things?