Railway through the flatlands


Heckington, Sleaford,  Peterborough, Ely, Cambridge: these were the stations I visited on my journey to see my mum earlier this week.

The ‘little train’ I talk about (the Poacher Line) has two carriages, runs from Skegness to Nottingham and stops in Heckington once an hour. But the train from Sleaford station (in photo above) to Peterborough was littler still, with only one carriage!

This journey took me through the flattest of the flatlands; with many references to those other Low Countries across the North Sea. One district is called South Holland and the train stops in Spalding where they used to grow acres of tulips and other bulbs.

On the approach to Ely station I catch a glimpse of river, boats and cathedral; and the sense of space and water stays with me. I always like changing trains here, like the openness and green fields nearby.

Between Ely and Waterbeach I see fields of the soot-black, crow-black soil that I think of as typical of the fens. A friend of my mum’s tells me it is not so black as it used to be, because our farming practices are taking all the goodness out of it.

River at Ely

View at Ely

2 thoughts on “Railway through the flatlands

  1. That black fenland soil is what you get on properly local celery with it’s really strong and wonderful flavour. Eaten with a cheese sauce – yum! (Er, you do wash the soil off first, of course)

  2. We tried growing celery and celeriac on our Manchester allotment, but without much success – sandy soil and not wet enough. Maybe we’ll do better in the richer loam we have here on the fen edge. I look at the stuff that has come from Spain, think how much water it needs and how little water parts of Spain have, and it seems all wrong!

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