Lincolnshire’s last wild landscape

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Straight drains, straight roads and isolated farmsteads: classic Fen landscape.

It’s what we see when we venture in our cars beyond the towns and happen to glance at the views beyond the roads.

It’s flat, featureless and, in winter particularly, could be said to be uninspiring.

However, author Jon Fox sees beyond the obvious to something far more interesting: how the land evolved from what was once the largest wetland in England.

Jon’s knowledge of the area is contained in his new book, The Lincolnshire Landscape – An Exploration, which is being launched locally at Bookmark in Spalding on Saturday (11am to 2pm).

The Fens and The Wash is one chapter within a book that explores the landscape of the entire county in some detail, but it’s the one of particular interest to local residents.

Jon writes: “Of all Lincolnshire’s landscapes, the Fenland is probably closest to the widespread image of the county as a flat and featureless expanse of arable farmland.

“To their detractors the Fens are variously monotonous, boring, bleak, depressing, even oppressive or menacing. Others, though, find the area compelling with its unique atmosphere and history.”

Jon traces the area’s history and development under the influence of both natural and human change.

The Ice Age, changes in sea level and climate all played their part in creating the surface geology we know, and man has built protective banks for flood protection and reclaimed land for farming over the years, something that Jon says continued until the 1970s.

Interestingly, Jon says Crowland Abbey was involved in several drainage schemes in the Lincolnshire Fens up to the Dissolution, but remained as a seasonal ‘island’ until steam pumping was introduced in the surrounding fens in the 1800s.

Jon also studies the marshland close to the Wash, of which he says: “Salt marshes and muddy creeks provide the foreground to expansive views that encompass shifting tides, sandbanks, mudflats and distant shorelines. It is a complete contrast to the intensively managed Fens and is perhaps Lincolnshire’s finest wild landscape.”