Huntingdon, Bedford & Peterborough Gazette 21 May 1881

FENLAND IN THE PAST

Less than fifty years ago Whittlesey and Ramsey, could boast of their famous meres. Where now, in autumn, wave broad leagues of corn. The shallow water stretched for many a mile, the reed beds teaming with wild fowl, while carp and tench, pike and bream, were abundant in the clear water below. The one fowler could, in a single day, take scores of ruff and reeve, grebe or mallard; whereas now the first two birds are practically extinct, and the two others are fast following after.

Whittlesey was the largest lake in the southern shires, with an area of one thousand, six hundred acres. Ramsey, although of smaller extent, seems to have been a very paradise. Its shores were rich and fertile, abounding with corn and fruit, pastures and gardens; and “where the waters lapped gently on a sandy shore, and above towered stately woods of ash and willow, it was a delight to all who looked thereon”. Fair was the prospect along the sandy beach, and that not many years ago; but all is drained now.

In winter black peat-flats stretch away on every side where lay “the fair wide mere”; in summer a rolling campaign of rich green corn. In autumn it is fairest of all, when the heavy wheat ears bend, and the soft rustle stirs along the broad expanse, gently heaving as a sea, amid which scarlet poppies rise and fall, now blazing in the sunlight, now hidden as the shadowy waves pass softly on. – Chamber’s Journal.

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