The dark inky waters of the River Great Ouse flow by, such a cliché, but in this case, it happens to be true. Small clumps of broken reeds move past, making their way on the soft flow, bobbing on the gentle undulations of the water. Mosquitoes dart around while under the surface of the water fish, make small rings that expand outwards as they try to catch the flitting insects.
Here, next to the sluice, it is quiet. Not so much quiet but all the daily noises are cancelled out by the white noise of the water falling over the sluice gates. From one level of the river to the next. It causes a white foam to drift alongside the reeds until, eventually, one by one the bubbles disappear back into the water.
At this point the river has a speed of its own. In Mid-summer its slow, a chill out and take it easy pace.
The landing stage where I am sitting allows my feet to kiss the top of the water. Good job really. Walking the mile or so home with wet socks is not on my agenda today. What is on the agenda? Taking pictures. Not today just want to be quiet. Thinking? Not really, some say that I don’t think much anyway.
Just being quiet and enjoying the river.
The river flows from just outside Northampton through Bedfordshire and into Cambridgeshire over the flat area called the Fens then into Norfolk before, finally combining with the sea where it forms a vast muddy sludge called the wash just outside Kings Lynn. It is possible to walk along the entire river just by following the river bank.
A slow meander through the country side enjoying the rich diversity of habitat and unending flatness of the fens.
The Fens have a distinct, natural beauty of their own, which is often missed. It comes last thing at night or at dawn. Low level mists roll around the reeds covering everything. A dampness that pervades the body. Everything gets wet. Including feet just by walking. A watery sun comes and lights up the mist creating a stunning, muted vista. In the more remote areas bird calls echo out across the silence of the landscape providing a haunting back drop to the stillness. Increasing the sense of being alone. Space to think. Space to forget the daily rush of emails, phone calls and instant messaging. Time to slow down, have a gentler, slower pace of life.
The mist gradually clears, the sun rises slowly giving way to huge skies. East Anglia is famous for its huge skies and in Norfolk they are particularly blue.
If they have cut the undergrowth on the paths, then the walking is easy. It’s flat after all no climbs, no mountains to scale, but this does leave a problem with light. It also gets hot under the sun or miserable if it rains. However, the saving grace is. It’s always got a breeze, there is virtually nothing between here and the North Sea. Nothing to stop it except the solitary tree.
Not many people photograph in East Anglia. I understand why. Those that know, though, Do.
For details of the Ouse Valley way which runs from Brackley to Kings Lynn Click Here