Prepared in support of the Ouse Washes: Heart of the Fens Stage 2 HLF bid, this landscape character assessment defines and describes the hinterland of the Ouse Washes, explaining the unique history of this part of the fen basin.
The Ouse Washes are a 17th century winter flood storage area on a massive scale. The system is designed to ease the problem of flooding in areas upstream of the tidal reaches of the River Great Ouse, where the tidal and fluvial waters meet. There are no views to the Ouse Washes as the washlands are 'hidden' behind their enclosing embankments but there is still a sense of territory and a perceived association between individual settlements and their surrounding areas of fenland (now arable fields) and outlying farmsteads. This study explores the subtle variations in landscape character within the hinterland of the Ouse Washes, using historic maps, geographical data, photographs and sketches to demonstrate how historic patterns of settlement and land use remain influential today.