The day before the Student Conference on Conservation Science began, conference participants were taken on a walk around Sheep’s Green and Coe Fen by the River Cam in Cambridge.
Sheep’s Green and Coe Fen formed part of the commercial area of the town where up to three watermills once stood. The land between the artificially raised banks of the watercourses was prone to flooding and was therefore only really suitable for grazing – sheep on Sheep’s Green (west of River Cam) and cows on Coe (cow) Fen (east of River Cam). By the 19th century, the Fen was mire and it was partly drained to avoid disease in the town. The land remains today as a semi-natural space and is an important part of the setting of the core area.
Much of the area is cattle-grazed medieval flood meadow, criss-crossed by streams and drainage ditches, with scattered trees, especially willows. Ms. Monica Frisch, a member of Cambridge Natural History Society (CNHS) which carried out an extensive survey of the area, led the walk and pointed out things of natural history interest.
It was quite an interesting way to “discover” Cambridge, though I was pretty sure the majority of the conference participants were either getting to know each other, or fighting jet lag, LOL. Nevertheless, Ms. Monica Frisch must be commended for her time and for sharing her knowledge of the area with us :D
After the walk, a few of us joined a punting tour offered by Scudamore Punting Company (it kinda reminded me of this backwater cruise that I joined in Fort Cochin, India). Our punter, I forgot to ask for his name, was a Kiwi, and he gave quite an elaborate description of the history of the city and some buildings that we saw along the river. He even sang us a song under a bridge! :D
Now, you won’t be able to take really good pictures of the buildings (mostly churches and colleges) because you’d be sitting in a boat in the river, so if you’d rather see the buildings up close and take pictures, the punting tour might not be your best option.
I paid £10, and I thought that it was quite pricey for a river tour. But if you must go punting in Cambridge, I’d recommend Scudamore’s :D And because you’d be sitting in a boat for about an hour, and listening to your punter, I suggest you pick one whose accent you could understand easily.