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The Fens

The Fens is an area of wetlands in the counties of Cambridgeshire and Lincolnshire in England. It covers approximately 1,300 kmē(320,000 acres).

300 years ago, the Fens were similar to the Florida Everglades, a large area of low-lying land. The area was reputed to be a haven for outlaws; including Hereward the Wake who fought against William the Conqueror.

The land started to be drained in the 1640s. Two cuts were made in the Cambridgeshire Fens to join the River Great Ouse to the sea at King's Lynn - the Old Bedford River and the New Bedford River, also known as the Hundred Foot Drain. Both cuts were named after the Fourth Earl of Bedford who, along with some "Gentlemen Adventurers" (venture capitalists[?]), funded the construction.

These days, much of the Fens lies below sea level with the highest point being only a few meters above sea level, and only sizable river banks[?] and flood defences[?] stop the land from being reclaimed.

In 2003, a project was initiated to return parts of the Fens to their original pre-agricultural state. Farmland is to be allowed to flood again and turned into nature reserves. Organizers of the Great Fen Project hope to encourage species such as the snipe, lapwing and bittern. Endangered species such as the fen violet[?] will be seeded.

Wisbech is known as the "Capital of the Fens".

The novel The Nine Tailors by Dorothy Sayers is located here.

See also

  • Somerset Levels - a similar are of wetland in the south west of the country

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