The family picnic at Fleam Dyke

Sometimes random thoughts come from nowhere, sometimes there’s a chain of thoughts which link that random thought back to something, so in fact it’s not random at all! When we were little we often went for a picnic, often with our cousins who were a similar age to us. Our mums were sisters and very close, friends as well as siblings, and their brother and their husbands became close friends as well. The men were close in age, all had been through the war in the different services, one uncle in the RAF as an engineer, one in the Navy on the dreaded Arctic convoys and my dad a paratrooper, serving in North Africa, Greece, Italy and France. That’s all an aside to going on picnics as a child. A place we often used to visit was the curiously named Fleam Dyke, and that’s the random thought which popped into my head.

When we used to go to Fleam Dyke, and apart from its funny name I didn’t think much about it, except it was a ditch or dip by a steep bank, which being in flat Cambridgeshire was a thing in itself. It was much longer than I, or maybe any of us realised at the time and ran for 25 miles. What I know now is that it dates back about 1700 years, but was built in different phases mostly as defenses against enemies, and is now a walk and nature reserve. Here’s a link to tell you more about it:

Many years later, driving back to Cambridge, I noticed some sort of earthwork along beside the A1 and I guessed it might be ancient; there was a sign which said Car Dyke, and thinking of Fleam Dyke, I imagined it to be a similar bank and ditch defense. However, it seems that Car Dyke was in fact an 85 mile waterway along the edge of the Fens. Here’s another link, to Car Dyke information this time:

So why have I been think about dykes, going back to Fleam Dyke of my childhood, and Car Dyke of more recent times? I was glancing through Twitter and came across a reference to Wat’s Dyke which I had never ever heard about until today, running along the Welsh Marches roughly parallel to the more famous Offa’s Dyke. And that’s it – that’s how Fleam Dyke came into my head – the unknown Wat’s Dyke made me think of Car’s Dyke which took me to Fleam Dyke and memories of picnics with my family!

Now thinking of Wat’s Dyke has made me think of Wansdyke… but that’s for another time!

My featured image is of one of the family picnics at Fleam Dyke – my dad and mum are on the left with my sister by mum, I’m on the right with my aunty, the uncle right at the back is my mum’s brother.

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