Sceanic qualityOverall this is an expansive, mainly low-lying landscape of broad river valley. The extent of the meadows is spectacular - particularly in spring when they become a golden carpet of buttercups. The flood plain meadows are traditionally managed – in the same way as they have been for millennia. The grass is cut for hay in early summer, and then livestock graze the meadows from August to December. The valley sides with ridges of higher land (30m) at Houghton and Hinchingbrooke give containment to the meadows and river.

Amongst the openness of the valley there is always subtlety and variation; intimate areas are created by the network of streams, backwaters and lakes. It is a gentle landscape of quiet pastoral beauty.

The floods make this an ephemeral land. Their waters transform the meadows into an inland sea, sweeping through without regard for parish or property – an extraordinary sight.

Idyllic footpaths travel along the woodland, pasture and riverside; The Thicket Path is truly glorious – here is ‘old England’.

Thicket Path, St Ives
Church spires proclaim their villages as they emerge from tree-scapes along the river.

Through all the seasons the vast skies and open vistas provide an ever changing background. Who needs mountains?