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Fenland Skating Venues

scroll down to 2010 for videos of fen racing or google earth flooding a1101 rd Welney PE14 9RB

Welney 6/2/14 Water on aiioi was risen cars and lorries stuck today to deep for skating 1 pm
Whittlesey 21/1/14 Water level to high water only just of the b1040
Bury Fen 23/12 13 Some water
Sutton Gault 23 12/13 Water level good rising
Upware 23/12/13 water level good

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1 3 214 it can now be assumed no fen skating until nexst winter december onwards
We try to update the website everyday in Welney between 9:00AM and 10:00AM. For pictures, messages and results of races go to the Club Messages page.

For information about membership to the Fenland Skating Centre you can contact:Alan White on 01354 680498 the centre’s treasurer.

We endeavour to update this page everyday during the skating season, however if on the odd occasion it has not been updated please email Roger at – roger.giles@gileslandscapes.co.uk for up to date skating information.

Updates this season; go through to main fenskating site for detailes rd show visiting fen vilages starting at welney 7/30 pm vilage hall 3 / 1/ 2014

2013/2014: scrowl righ down to 2010 for vidios of fen racing ectra

6th rd flooded no skating

1 13 am slight frost no
21 1 14 slight frost no skating
10 1 14 seriously flooded a1101

6th pm very high on a1101 cars not getting across no skating

3rd 1 / 2014 9 am a little water on rd cars going through UPDATE 3/30 AM WATER MUCH DEEPER ON RD A BIT IFY TO DRIVE THROUGH

1 /1 /2014 10 am water on rd lower cars going through half bariers in place no skating

31 12 4/30 pm water on a1101 droped sensible drivers geting through okay but rd closher half bariers in place no skating

31 no frost rd flooded welney no skating

28 / 12 /13 a1101 welney wash rd rd closure bariers up not mucvh water on rd trafick still goimg through at mid day no frost

27 pm 12 13 water right over a1101 rd welney wash rd rising rd closure in place today half rd bariers up . not deep yet but rising time 21 50 info from bedford arear mases of water still to come down could result in very high water on wash rd to high for skating if it did freezeto

27th water trickling acros welney wash rd a1101
26th 12 13 most waterlevels rising rapidly no frost whatch this space talk and film show welney hall fen and olimpick skating 3 / 1st 2014 pm cick through and contact daved smith for more/details on main fencentre site time 7 /30 cost 2/50 entry time 7/30
13/11/13: Its getting colder – watch this space! Meanwhile check out this article in Landscape Magazine

30/3/13welney a1101 trafick going through shalow flood 2 o3 inches deep light snow frozren patches on edges of water
24/3/13 unberliverble i am sure the last stament still stands but were are again exsperiencing frosty condition plus a blanket of snow welney a1101 wash rd is again bigining to flood if these condition go on in to aprill it will 12 monthes of almost continuos rain and flooding
1/ 3/13 a1101 welney rd clear of water moderate frost fen skating must be over for this season

23/2/13 a1101 clear of water and paserble at welney the few digrees frost at nigh not inough to seet the ice
10/2/13 PM- Wet/snow setting/ no ice/ road open.

7/2/13 A few degrees /frost/ no skating/very little water on A1101. Welney Wash Road has cars going through.

27/1/13 No skating temp + 9 at 06:30 – snow has melted.

26/1/13 Seriously un-skateable at Welney. Rising water into the overnight snow has created an inch of partly frozen slush (11 am).

Lowest temp last night -0.3. At 08:00 +0.8. A fall of snow has covered thin ice disguising weak patches and ditches. Would not recomend skating today, the thaw has set in and the trees are dripping.

25/1/13 People are skating at Bury Fen and Welney – 10.30am. BE AWARE – can go through on patches of snow. The ice is in better condition than yesterday. KEEP AWAY from ditches and deep water!

02:35 The sky has just cleard, no clouds at all, temp at – 2 and falling. See pictures of Gary skating yesterday. Gary is a silver medalist in-line skater but he has taken to natural ice like a duck to water. Look at pictures of Gary on Fen Skating Facebook, pay attention to the perfect ice behind him, Gary tried it and went through. The ice was perfect for speed but it just shows we need to be careful!

Temp @ 7am -5.2!

24/1/13 Midday – Welney, Gary Evison went out skating on south side Welney Wash and had a reasanable skate. He checked the darker ice 50 or 60 yards futher our and went through only one foot deep so he is okay. However we do not recommend skating road ward. I have just visited Upware – no water, Bury Fen – no skating. If we get minus 5 tonight it might just be ok Friday before the thaw.

24/1/13 A few skaters have been out on south side of Welney Wash, the ice is fair to- poor. Only skate close to road on shallow fields. A few skaters have been seen on other venues, HIGH DANGER – DO NOT venture far from road.

23/ 1 /13 6:30 am – Ice and snow appear to be melting, not promising. Today’s forecast – rain next 12 hrs.

22/1/13 There may be a few patches of poor quality skatable snow/ice. Do not recommend skating. Malcolm Robinson, Dr Rob Michell plus other club members are away racing in Holland, so not much info yet. If there is a slight thaw to get rid of snow, plus patches that have re-frozen where water has appeared on top of ice, the heavy frost predicted tonight could be better.

21/1/13 6:30 am Current temp – 2.6, lowest today -2.6 highest 1.7. Ice covered by 4 inches of snow – do not recommend skating on very thin ice under snow at any of Fenland venues. Littleport weather centre forecasts rain within 12hrs. No water on A1101 at Welney – do not recommend travel on Fen roads, today several vans and lorries off road in ditch on A1101.

20/1/13 3 .30 pm checked ICE – WELNEY wash.

Amasingly people are skating. John Scott Bourn a bred Fen farmer was on the ice. Admittedley John had crashed through the ice and was nursing wet feet, but Freddy and Matilda (his children) were having a great time skating. This shows how close we are to Fen skating. John advise was DO NOT encourage people to go skating yet. John is a local and knows exactly where to go to remain safe.

20/1/13 There was frost in the night holding. At 9:30 am from Space North Weather Centre (6 miles south of Welney at Littleport) will add link to site.

19/1/13 Malcolm Robinson reports at 9 am Bury Fen now all frozen over, covered by inch of snow due to weak frost last night – no skating. Other venues much the same. Still some open water at Welney and Sutton Gault.

18/1/13 As you you can see by picture below, there is plenty of ice near road, but not such a heavy frost last nigh although it held me up in several arears. Dangerously high water further out in the open.

2 pm update – Do not be taken in by the snow now covering thin ice – HIDDEN DANGER!

17/1/13 Welney wash 9 am – almost there! Walked on some ice okay, but moved a few yards and went through danger high at midday. I spoke to Malcolm Robinson at Sutton Gault, not quite there. Bury Fen the same. Malcolm as you know calls the shots with Fen & National championships as secretary of the Fen Centre.

16/1/13 Frost at 8 am, very minimal ice on Welney Wash, the water rose a few inches covering the thin ice. If the frosty weather contiues for a few days there may be a chance to skate. DANGER ON WELNEY WASH AND OTHER FENLAND VENUES WILL BE HIGH due to deeper water than usual making it visualy difidult to establish where shallow fields, rivers and ditches start. Watch to see where the locals skate!

15/1/13 Same as yesterday, but the weather pattern indicates we may be skating very soon.

14/1/13 At 8 am neary aninch of snow melting, no skating, roads are clear, A1101 passable at Welney.

11/1/13 Several degrees frost, a few more days may be okay to skate?

10/1/13 White frost but no ice yet. Road clear of water.

9/1/13 Virtualy no water on A1101. Welney causeway road signs still up – officialy closed. In fact the water levels on Welney Wash are now perfect for skating. No frost is forecast until the end of this week.

There are many flashes of ideal shallow patches of water all over the Fens at this time.

8/1/13 Sand bags on the Delph Bridge on the A1101 have been removed. The odd four track is managing to get through the flood road, although it is still officially closed.

4/1/13 This year started with very little rain, but was much warmer. Almost double figures! The water on Welney Wash is going down. The Environment Agency must have done a great job. A1101 still completerly impassable, the sand bags are still in place on the River Delph bridge.


29/12/12 On checking the water at 5 pm today, the Environment Agency have sandbagged the main Delph Bridge into the village (at the point where they raised all the wash barrier banks to cope with global warming by a metre several years ago). This left the bridges slightly lower than the banks. Hopefully this will stop the water running over into the village. Looking out of my widow I can see an almost full moon, but the chances are it is on the wane, so tides will lower. Thankfully there is no East wind to drive the tides up even higher to impede the water running out to the sea.

29/12/12 Welney: no skating today but you never know what is round the corner. Fen Skating has underpinned the economy of this village since Victorian times when the ground was frozen and farm workers could not work. It helped to feed the families if they could win skating roses on the Fens, for joints of meat.

Points of Interest

Hopefully, better late than never!!! THE TALE OF TURKEY SMART

The last of the Fen Tigers: Erny James who died fairly recently, in his 100th year, Erny was the subject of several TV documentaries as he was an eel catcher, wild fowler and Fen skater competing with the great Horn brothers in the 20’s. One of his documentaries can bee seen daily at Welney WWT, my son Adam was probably the last one to record a live interview with Erny.


I know I’m slightly disylexic, but I was not able to understand the Fenland STAKING bit!!! Perhaps there is something I’m missing. click link to edp photos 2010 Welney Wash


My granddaughter (the 2-year old girl on the Sledge) Babs Horn, the many times British Champion Fenland skater
inthe 20’s and 30’s, is her Grand Uncle. So let us hope that the original Fen skater gene passes down to the new generation.

If you click back to the Fenland Ice Skating page, you can see her Grand Uncle winning the National Championships at Lingy Fen Cambridge on a clip from 1929 Pathe News.

Eve and Lucy McLinerney were featured in The Times this Saturday, skating on Welney Wash. They are the Fen skaters of the future, already doing well racing in their own right. Their father Michael is a local Fenland athlete ex European in-line champion.


Michael Mclinerney was European in-line champion in the past. Judging by his results in 2010, Fen racing at Bury Fen, beating Malcolm Robinson in the final by 2 seconds, must be a great contender for any National or Fenland champioships that should arise this winter. (It is good that he has got 2 excellent pacemakers, pushing the poor old chap to get best results)

photos above by kind permission of Geof Robinson Photography Cambridge 0797880732. Geof has a verry good selection of Fen Skating pictures going back to 2009 @ Welney, Sutton Gault, Bury Fen, Earith etc.

It was great to see a picture of his 2 girls, skating on Welney Wash in The Times last Saturday. 2 / 2/ 13 .

If you scroll down on this page to the Guardian video in 2010 you will see the 2 girls as they were then, skating at Bury Fen the day of the championships, when their father Michael won the Murial Parsons Cup, beating our Fen centre secretary Malcolm Robinson by 2 seconds. This shows that topline in-line skaters can skate well on natural Fenland ice
(do not tell anyone, but Malcolm Robinson has just got back from intensive racing and training in Hollan, so he is ready to peak this week at the Fenland speed skating in order to get his own back and make up those 2 seconds, but the thaw has set in with a vengance. So again no Fenland championships). The A1101 Welney Road is again becoming flooded – warning signs are up.

Rose Dixson pointed out “there are more farmers fields than ever before this year, that would be very safe and only few inches deep, whose wheat fields can give us great skating for a few days when other venues were no good.”

In the mid nineties I virtually walked straight out of the Lamb and Flag’s new years celebrations to spend half a day clearing snow from the 400 meter track. Dave Smith joined me and we got the job done just in time to run the Turkey Smart Cup before Darkmalclm Robinson won the cup. Dave came second and he still moans to this day, that he would have won the cup if he had not spent five hours cleaning the track!

Let’s hope this new year we do not have to spend New Years Day shoring up sand bags on the bridge to stop the wash flooding the village.

Last night there was a knock on the door and Andy of the country group Rattleshack at Silt Drove, called in and thrust a demo CD into my hand telling me they had made it based on the famous Welney Skater (folk hero) Turkey Smart. Now Andy told me they are showcasing this new release at a New Years Eve bash at The Lamb and Flag, Welney. The narrated introduction to the CD was done by Rick Smart who, if my memory is correct, who was the son of Naby Smart, cousin of Alva Smart. This must make Rick the grandson or great grandson of Turkey!

Now the turn-over of The Lamb and Flag must have been hit by at least 50% with the A1101 being only barely passable due to the floods. Let’s hope they have great night New Years Eve and that the winning Welney division, Fen Magic, will rub off on us all seeing them have a great new year.

Rick Smart, if you not seen him, is dead ringer for Turkey Smart. In the video he talks about the Sea family. If you go to the fenskating pageyou will see pictures of Turkey racing Sea when they are both in their 70’s.

Wishing best of luck to Rattleshack playing at The Lamb and Flag New Years Eve.

In the 60’s I booked a group called The GAY LORDS for £70 to play at the Welney Gala. The land lady then, Marrion Stubs, was not keen on them so I smuggled a demo disk on the Lamb and Flag’s juke box. It gave the group great credibility. The Beatles noticed them and wrote Obler Dee Obler Dar for them with which, they had a number 1 hit and changed there name to marmelade. We made a killing at the Gala as village was over-run with their fans. The proceeds gave our village’s playing field fund a masive boost, and at the end of the 60’s Geoff Capes was down opening the new playing field (complete with full sized soccer and cricket pitches) plus in those days, a state of the art Pavillion.


It was great time in the Fens for us to have world class sportsmen such as Dave Boy Green and Geoff Capes always giving us their time when we needed to raise money.

Generally skating on the Fens is free, although some farmers may charge a nominal amount for parking. We cannot give permission to skate at any particular place. Also please be aware that the flooded fields we skate on are either privately owned or part of a conservation area. Therefore please be respectful and do not venture deep into the reserve where you may disturb wildlife. This is not an automatic right to roam so please keep to areas that the locals use.

Take a look at this video created by Adam Giles and Richard Millen!

Skating on the Fens – filmed on the 4th and 5th Feb 2012.

Points of Interest 24.02.12

Although the real Fen ice seems to be over for this year, some of the lads are over in Holland keeping in shape.

Malcolm Robinson, Dave Smith, Dave Butteriss and others from the club are in Holland competing this weekend. In previous years the two Davids with others including the ex landlord of The Ship Brandon Creek near Littleport, octogenarian Mr Blanchflower have taken part in the grueling 200k (140miles) alternative Elfstedentocht in Austria!


Picture by kind permission of Geoff Robinson.

And here’s Janneke again one week later on the 12th Feb skating in Holland getting ready for the 20km village tours which hasn’t been possible since 1997.

If you did not make it, look instead at the taster video below to see what you have missed. Suggestion for those of you in the City, follow the trail of the special skating train from Kings Cross to Ely or Littleport, bring your mountain or fold up cycle and ride 6 miles to Welney and visit Sir Peter Scott’s Wildlife Trust (Welney Wildlife Trust) and stay and have lunch there or at the Lamb and Flag Pub. You can see all the videos on Fen Skating and Fen culture at the Trust and you can observe the bird and swan feeds plus as you look across you will see the Welney World Champion skater’s isolated Norway House the other side of the Welney wash.

Make a note in your diary not to miss the spectacular Fen Skating experience next year!

Other news today 13.2.12:

Dr Debbie Palmer Green was skating at Whittlesey on Sunday – pity we couldn’t show her top quality ice! Debbie is an ex Olympic skater and is to compete in the Finland ice marathon next month to raise money for a heart charity.

Knocker Forman – what a guy! Driving down from York to skate in the Fen at Sutton Gault – at 70 he must be the oldest league ice hockey player in the world!! Thank you for your kind letter and enthusiasm Knocker!

Please continue to watch the blog for “safe” skating updates each day.

We know who to blame for white out in the Fens as we see on Facebook that Christian Bennett is heading here again to play ice hockey, he brought the snow last time he came.

Last year, Christian Bennet from The Guardian came up and we gave him a plus when he put on skates to film Alan Fisher the former Fen Champion skating at Whittlesey, but in the blizzard and white out when he followed me back to Welney he got lost. His SATNAV got him back OK to Back Drove, Welney until he bottomed out! He rang our office in a bit of a state and worried the girls so much they walked out into the Fen and rescued him. This definitely lost his his “street cred” a bit but we gave him top marks back again when he and his colleagues produced The Guardian video “Skating on the Fens” which was broadcast on YouTube. www.youtube.com/watch

A great picture taken by Ian Newman on Saturday morning (4th February) at Welney.

ice skating
sunset over the ice


Alan Fisher & Keith Tyler were in the final, Alan went home with the Turkey Smart Cup and the great C W Horne presented the trophies.

We rarely are represented as Team GB in Winter Olympics Long Track Speed Skating but know fen skater, Babs Horn represented us in the 30’s. I also remember the great fen skaters, the French Brothers, John French put his life on hold to go to Holland to train for the Olympics in the late 1980’s as there were no 400m long tracks in this country.

I think I am correct to say that there are still no 400m tracks in this country, until the Snoasis Winter Sports Complex is built.

It looks as though we have a long track hope but he has to go to Germany to train and I have just checked out Scott Anderson’s video and it looks like he can fly! javascript:void(0);/*1327415116004*/

A really interesting DVD has been produced by the Welney Youth Club & Youth Music Camera Action as part of a Heritage Lottery Funded project. In the DVD Welney Youth Club explores its rich history touching upon Fenland traditions such as Ice Skating, Wildfowling, Folklore and much more. It is a credit to all those involved in the research for the project.

If you would like further details on this DVD you can either contact by email: youthmusiccameraaction@yahoo.co.uk or copies can be obtained from the Lamb & Flag Public House in Welney for a small donation.

16/01/12 Welney today @ 07:45am.


The Secretary of Fen Centre, Malcolm Robinson, rang this morning. He and Dave Smith, the web master of the main Fen Skating website, are in Holland racing so the main site will not get updated for a couple of days. You can almost guarantee if our Club lads go speed skating in Holland it will freeze in the UK!

Just to remind you of last year’s skating at Bury Fen. www.youtube.com/watch

The Moors of Littleport where crowds of many thousands watched epic skating matches in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s, lays just on the left as trains pull into Littleport Station from Ely on the way to Kings Lynn, but of course it is not flooded now but I am sure it would be still possible to do so. When there were top skating matches on, excursion trains ran from Kings Cross to Littleport every half hour loaded with skating enthusiasts. It has been said that there were as many as 20,000 people on many occasions watching these matches.

See a little promo on the lottery funded film being made about the Family Adams Project. Adams Shop in Littleport had the franchise for Hagans Skates 1800 to 1930. familyadamsproject.webs.com/apps/videos/

Last year, David Lowe, the Property Agent for the Snoasis Project visited Welney to skate on several occasions. Snoasis is Destination Winter Sports Resort which is just about to start at Ipswich and includes a 400m long track speed skating rink.

David made an “epic” tour skate of the Welney Washes, with his brother, John and two Fen Skaters, Malcolm Robinson and James Ashby. He has made a bound copy of this event called ‘Escapades on Fen Ice’ which includes excellent photography and a commentary on the areas covered. It also has a paragraph on safety equipment needed for this type of long distance skate. Bound copies can be seen in the Norris Museum at St Ives or the Lamb and Flag Public House, Welney.


Bury fen and little fen Earith have no water due to last year’s summer drought and low amounts of water coming down tidal river however this may change as we get into 2012 as most of you know Bury Fen is great for national and fen Championships.

Will still have to say Whittlesey wash is still the favourite with excellent water and would be great for local fen and national championships.

You never know what sort of superstars you’re going to meet on ice in the fens last year we had a treat with the appearance of the UK speed skating team, Sarah Lindsay.
Last but not least Welney wash where many battles have been fought by skating legends such as the famous Smarts at the turn of the 19th century plus Babs Horn and the like in the 20th century –
at this moment there is enough water for fun skating at Welney wash and the water is rising.

Although it has been the warmest Christmas for many years the long term forecast suggests very wintry weather could appear late Jan/Feb – you never know what may be round the corner!

01-12-10 Monday we had some journalists come down to Welney to do some coverage of the skating. So Rod Ward and our very own Contract’s Manager, Gary Evison came along for a skate. Thanks to Geoff Robinson for the photos. All images – Geoff Robinson 2010

ice skating
ice skating


General Update – 20-01-10

For those of you that missed the BBC’s coverage of the skating I have provided a link on the emails page after receiving a lovely email from Rose.
click below racing 2010

BBC video at Bury Fen http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/8465105.stm

se bilow under nisa rules 210

gary silver medal inliner drew adam for his first rase on real iceunder nisa rulesic

General Update – 15-01-10

Roger Giles the owner of Giles Landscapes is passionate about fen skating, often seen on a winter’s morning investigating the condition of the Welney Wash to let skaters know when the ice is ready. Roger was pleased to met Charlie Helliwell this year, an enthusiastic skater the makes the track up from London to skate, and the young people from London who returned to skate again in the Fens.

Christian Bennett came up the other week to visit us and has produced a great video capturing the essence of fen skating

General Update – 13-01-10

Although it is snowing at the moment there is no reports of skating, and needless to say the championships will not be held this weekend. News of the fenland skating race has made it across the waters with the Washington Post enquiring about the event yesterday and an article published on the Reuters website link below.


12-01-10 A great weekend of racing was had at Earith and a special thanks to Malcolm for his sterling efforts in organising and setting out the track. The results of the racing have been published on the Club messages page but we have a few pictures for you below thanks to Geoff Robinson (www.geoffrobinsonphotography.co.uk). I also had a lovely email from Margaret with pictures from 1907 when her grandfather raced. I have posted these on the email comments page for the moment as we are currently upgrading our archive page to make it easier to browse through.

The Guardian have done a nice cover of events too. http://www.guardian.co.uk/sport/gallery/2010/jan/10/weather?picture=357865464

ice skating
ice skating race
ice skating crowd
ice skating
ice skaters
ice skating
clearing the ice

08-01-10 Report from John of Mare Fen, Over, has several acres of field flooded to a depth of around 6 inches. Safe and good. Road Swavesey to Over, field on the left 20 yards before Over village boundary sign. This fen was used for the National Races in the 1960’s.
07-01-10 The Cambridge Ice Hockey team have been out enjoying the ice at Whittlesey today and a race has been advertised at Whittlesey for Saturday I think it was 9am start but if anyone wants to confirm that I would be grateful. There are also rumours of another club race for this weekend but I am waiting confirmation.

The Lamb and Flag, local pub in Welney just over the bridge from the Wash, provides lovely hot lunches and dinners to warm you up after having fun on the ice. Telephone: 01354 610242 to check serving hours.

The curator at the Norris Museum in St Ives is very knowledgeable on the history of the Smart family, the famous fen skaters. The museum often gives talks on the subject and runs skating exhibitions at the museum. www.norrismuseum.org.uk/

Wildfowl and Wetland Trust WWT www.wwt.org.uk/welney, is a centre providing information on the local wildlife across the fens. Films running, including Fen skating 24-7.

This picture was drawn in Roger Giles autograph book by Sir Peter Scott whilst visiting Sir Richard A. Bulter’s estate in Halstead.

Founded in 1946 by the naturalist and artist, the late Sir Peter Scott, WWT is the only UK charity with a national network of nine specialist wetland visitor centres.

With over 60 years experience of wetland conservation, WWT is committed to the protection of wetlands and all that depend on them for survival.

Email us at info@gileslandscapes.co.uk to give your support to a team, update us with any news and we’ll post it on our website in the EMAIL YOUR COMMENTS section.

Disclaimer: Any Skating on the Fens is done at the skaters’ own risk. No company or persons can be held responsible for any injury or loss of life. Never skate on rivers, lakes or dykes where the water depth exceeds 4 inches.

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