The Fens, The land That Time Forgot


Wall cloud storm front over Cambridgeshire landscape-moody weather photography

Where on earth do I start, or is this place really on earth?, where's Mulder and Scully from the X-files when you need them, but even this place would confuse them!

Let's try and make a start; and I was born in Wisbech and grew up in the Fenland, so before some people start jumping down my throat with what I'm about to say, I know this place better than most.

Fenland Location GOOGLE MAPS

fenland crop froozen in winter ice

Fenland life is unlike any other place I have ever seen or lived. I once lived in Norwich, Kings Lynn and Bedfordshire. I'm a person who sees what's going on in and around the areas I have lived here.

Life in Norwich and Bedfordshire felt like another world. There were places to go, walking, forests, lakes, and great shopping. People would talk and look happy (now you thinking? Kate, this is everyday life). But in the Fens, it is the opposite. You only see dog walkers walking along the roadsides. You don't see people out walking enjoying the countryside. If you do, it's one person a year. There's hardly anywhere to go hiking or go out for the day. There are some beautiful churches and a few old streets in some towns, but that doesn't want to make a person move here and spend the rest of their lives walking the same road!


The people I have met will mostly say the same things. Aren't this place flat and bleak, and where is all the wildlife.

Growing up here has been hard work and far from the normal when it comes to working lives. My family originates from Tydd St. Marys Lincolnshire; it was a large family of 9 kids. Families often had many kids, not for family life but to work, a production line, so to speak. All were working the land from just 6 years old and from dawn till dusk, seven days a week. When I was a child, I worked on the land in the 1970s and 80s; our lives were brutal and made us as hard as nails.


Old boats at Upwell lock gate old nene river course black and white photography.

As a child, I have been interested in art, drawing black and white drawings. At school, the teacher took it upon himself to call me a cheat because of my skills at such a young age, which is one reason I left school at such a young age. Being called a cheater by someone who doesn't know you are demeaning and makes you want out. After that, I stopped drawing but found photography and found out I can document my world as I pleased.


sunset over the cambridgeshire fens landscape photography

Well, art can be had here even if you are a hater like me, but what does this crazy place offer.

When The weather turns bad, it is time to get off that sofa, grab the camera and get out there. Mist and fog turn this place into an older world instantly. Forget Photoshop; this is real life suddenly jumping back in time because the skies have gone whiteout. The best conditions are when there's wet weather with a light mist and the greyed out or whiteout skies, and this tends to be the most photographic time.


Storm chasing UK, lightning and weather photography Cambridgeshire.

On rare occasions, the weather sounds off with thunderstorms, these are rare here, and we are lucky to get one or two per year. When they come, the storm chasing begins, watching the storms across the country or coming up from France. I know these will often pack some power. It is, for me, the coolest, most fun and the frilling thing I will do all year long. Knowing you going into dangerous weather is a buzz. I have seen some crazy stuff in the 20 odd years I have been chasing. Just the clouds on their own are, and I always hope to see a tornado. as you can see by the photos, it is mother nature at her most stunning, the clouds helps so much for this countryside and makes the shots.

In a nutshell, to photograph the Fens, you need to work alongside mother nature. You need to get out when the weather turns nasty. It offers colour photos, but these are harder to find and will often lead to frustration. I often tell people that they can photograph anything if you can photograph the Fens. It takes a natural artistic eye and one that's willing to put the work in and jump out that photography box and don't think like a photographer as that will get in your way.


North level main drain, river, The bleak landscapes of the Fens Cambridgeshire rain and mist in black and white.

If you come here and expect to see nature and loads of wildlife, then you are in for a shock. Now you are screaming at me, but what about Wicken Fen and Welney wash nature reserves, Kate! Well, let me tell you, they are not the real world but one that once was hundreds of years ago, they are not everyday places, not places you see from your car window! And you can see that but the amount of wildlife that lives in those places. Birds that you will never see out in the standard countryside are insects only in those nature reserves.


Last Thoughts


Two old OAP people under stormy skies in the Cambridgeshire Fens British storm chasing

The real world is shocking compared to these fake worlds that once was. Yes, it is brilliant for wildlife and somewhere for them to cling to life, but humans have caused these issues. Why do you never see me at those paid places, they are just not reality, and I have to show the natural world, both the beautiful and ugly side of it; someone has to.

People often tell me they didn't know you could photograph the Fens. It does open their eyes to some of the issues, which I'm here for, and having sales around the world is lovely. Sadly, many people have never heard of this place, even within the UK. It is that forgotten.



Wrote on in 2018 by katey Jane Andrews.
katey jane photography