Archive for September, 2012

Wednesday, September 5th, 2012

 Dodge about along the waterways of eastern England, particularly those of the serrated coast of Essex, and you can find bits of history in every creek. Those creeks saw the start and finish of more sail-miles – if that were ever a unit of measurement – than probably anywhere else in the UK, simply by force of numbers of boat movements.

 Smacks, colliers and coasters by the hundred traded to large and small ports by the dozen while barges, flat bottomed and capacious, pushed and poked their way into the narrowest of waterways and remotest of quays. There they would sit on the mud for unloading and loading and then hopefully get away on the next tide although that mud, sucking hard on a barge, sometimes needed some stirring to be made to let go.

 The improbability of some of those endeavours is probably best evident at Beaumont Quay at the west end of the Walton Backwaters. Have a look at the picture on the Landscape Gallery page here or, better still, in the September/October issue of Anglia Afloat.

 Meanwhile, out west in the region, quietly sings the Lark, which is the River Lark, a sort of secret place on the Fenland navigation, one of three easterly feeders to the River Great Ouse (four if you count the Cam but that comes in from the south where the bigger river turns north). The Lark, along with the Wissey and the Little Ouse, were once trade routes with traffic on the Lark getting all the way to Bury St Edmunds, if not entirely successfully in terms of shareholder profit.

 The railways stopped all that of course but what was left turned almost seamlessly to leisure and that’s what they do now. If you don’t know the Fenland backwaters, you’ll find a taster – of the River Lark – also in the latest Anglia Afloat.

 And for that matter, if you don’t know the Norfolk Broads, you could get a taster – of the River Yare – in the September issue of Suffolk/Norfolk Life. It’s a watery place, eastern England.