Skaters made the most of the freezing weather to try out the enormous rink - after a SIX-INCH SHALLOW covering of water froze over the fields. The stunning rink, which stretches for miles, is a skater’s paradise and locals were keen to go for a spin whilst the big freeze continues.
It takes three nights of temperatures of minus six or below to form ice strong enough to skate on. Just where in the Fens it is possible to skate varies from year to year and depends on where the farmers and river authorities have allowed the land to flood.
The Cambridgeshire Fens were the birthplace of British speed skating and when farm hands were unable to work on the frozen land they welcomed the chance to skate for prizes. The first properly organised skating race was held in the Fens in 1814 and during the harsh Victorian winters people travelled from America and the continent to compete for a leg of mutton or a bag of flour. Competitions became rarer during the last century as winters gradually got milder. People wore “fen runners,” made by setting blades with curved fronts into blocks of wood, which were screwed into the soles of everyday boots.
In the 1940s many skated every year and every family in the Fens had a pair of skates and in 1947 the ice lasted eight weeks.