Saturday, 14 July 2012

Downriver And Into The Country

We left the River Cam rolling slowly through Cambridge. And when I say "slowly" I mean real slow and lazy. You see the river in Cambridge is only about a dozen feet (a bit over 3 metres) above sea level and it still has about 50 miles (80Km) of its journey to complete; that's not a lot of gradient! The mood is unhurried and relaxed.

The people who live along this stretch of the river have caught the mood too and this steady approach has led to scenes of great beauty, but also haphazard and laid-back constructions which have a different kind of charm and a kind of inspired crankiness. Come along and I'll try to show you what I mean.

Well, I hope you find some beauty in there somewhere. That's just outside the built-up part of the city. The Fens, the ancient swamps which now form rich agricultural land, come right up to the city alongside the river. The huge skies are a feature of the Fenland and one that I miss if ever I'm away for long.

And here's some of that ramshackle charm; the boat-owner's cat poses on the little jetty, framed by the rough paintwork of the boat. A friend of mine owns a similar craft and spends lots of time restoring it and even more time sitting and watching the water pass by - he'll get it all finished one day but what's the hurry....

And some inspired crankiness.....this magnificent craft passed by. Powered by steam and scenting the air with coal smoke, it even had a whistle which sounded like a train!

This man must have been writing poetry or studying some esoteric religion. It's the kind of place that makes you want to pause and ponder....

When you do get the paint-job completed you can moor up, put a few plants on the roof of your floating abode and take life easy.

Some folks live on shore but they've been caught by the river too. Some of these buildings were put up before planners insisted on everything conforming to their ideas of what's acceptable and I dare say that some of the builders just haven't consulted any architects. They always meant to but......

But the river keeps sliding imperceptibly by while people dawdle or freewheel along the towpath and others sit on their boats and smoke or drink tea. Just occasionally an energetic soul comes into view: on the river but not yet part of it....

This young man was causing some excitement among a couple of ladies sitting on the riverbank. I don't think it was his rowing style which caught their eye. I could of course be wrong...

Even travelling people get trapped by the river's persuasive song and graze their horses on the meadows of Chesterton Fen. They're still travellers but their stranded alongside the Cam's peaceful waters. Look at that fence, that's pure fenland architecture, that is.

If you really want to know how to live on the river then ask the swans. Grace and beauty, serenity and quietness. But just remember - don't mess with me or I'll break yer arm!

Take care. I'll be back with some more photos from this stretch of the river tomorrow if I get around to it......  


  1. Those clouds hovering over the water make for a beautiful photograph. I also love the rustic old boat with the cat; looks right at home. Such quaint water-vessels! It looks to be a very laid back environment; you'd think - not a care in the world. Look forward to more pics from along the river John

  2. I enjoyed that leisurely meander along the short section of the River Cam ..... some interesting captures here of life in the slow lane.

  3. Thanks for the trip, John. That's some beautiful photography.

  4. you have the slow-and-go mood of the river down!!! i completely enjoyed this easy, peaceful little tour...thanks so much for the treat!

  5. Lovely reflections on the water--a peaceful summer day.

  6. That was nice. A wonder filled look into another way of life. Simple and peaceful.

  7. Another fine walk alongside you, John. Your countryside is so peacefully beautiful.

  8. The River Cam in Cambridge is beautiful but in the countryside it’s more attractive with its rural, simple, and unhurried atmosphere. People can see more spacious sky. Thanks for sharing the walk down by the river.

  9. You know how I love boats and these photos have made my day. I almost feel like I've done the walk with you.

  10. I would want to 'pause and ponder'.........a splendid post John!

  11. It is a fantastic setting full of authentic character, all brilliantly rendered in your photos and prose. It is a fun adventure for us, I can tell you!


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