March Boating Holidays
Bustling historic market town March alongside the River Nene is one of the most popular gateways in to the Fenland waterways network and moorings here at March marinas are popular with visitors taking narrowboat holidays in the area. March sits along the scenic old course of the River Nene which weaves directly through March town centre to great effect. A beautiful medieval church and a superb choice of independent shops and traditional inns can be found in March centre.
March was originally a small island community in the Fens which later developed as a Tudor Port, booming further with the arrival of the railway in the 19th century. March Museum explores the local history of the town and features a fascinating Fenland Cottage and Forge, both authentic historic buildings with interactive exhibits rescued from the town’s outskirts at Chain Bridge.
Narrowboat companies for boat hire are based at March marina in the heart of the Middle Level Navigation and these include Fox Boats. March is a superb location from which to take boating holidays on the Fenland Waterways as the town sits at the very heart of the river and canal network branching out from the River Nene.
The Cambridgeshire Fens
The Fens are situated between the uplands of Norfolk, Lincolnshire, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire. In Cambridgeshire the Fens push up from Cambridge towards Lincoln and down from the Wash and King’s Lynn to Peterborough. Wisbech in the heart of the Fens is known as the ‘Capital of the Fens’ and nearby March is a popular boating holiday gateway on to the Fens Waterway network.
The Fens are a unique landscape in Britain formed around 5000 years ago when the sea level rose and submerged the area which was then covered by a wildwood. In the Paleolithic and Neolithic period much of the Fens were underwater. Many weapons and tools from the earliest settlers in the Fens have been found and these early settlers despite the damp conditions found ample fish and wildfowl serving as sources of food from the Fens waterways.
Local museums at Wisbech, Chatteris and March and fenland visitor centres like the Welney Wetlands, Flag Fen and Wicken Fen reveal more on the lives of the earliest settlers in Fens as well as detailing how the Fens were formed and the efforts to drain it. Most of the early human activity in the Fens was centred around the ‘isles’ of clay like Wicken village and Ely and the chalky dry uplands around the eastern edges at Burwell, Swaffham Prior and Reach. The Romans were the first to attempt drainage of the Fens from which they also derived valuable salt and peat. Serious attempts at draining the Fens came later under the supervision of the Duke of Bedford from 1630.
The unique flat landscape of the Fens is one of the most enchanting landscapes in Britain shaped by both nature and man. The Fenland waterways, which are rich in wildlife and waterfowl, are popular for boating holidays, including narrowboat holidays. Visitor centres like the Welney Wetland Centre near Wisbech are essential visiting in the Fens area.
Welney Wetland Centre
Welney, part of the northernmost area of the Ouse Washes subject to seasonal flooding, is home to hundreds of wild birds and wildfowl. In winter up to 9000 swans and ducks famously arrive here at Welney from the Arctic. A cutting edge eco centre, Ouse Washes gallery and numerous bird hides and trails are onsite at Welney Wetland Centre situated south of Wisbech.