Ike took a trip to stay with Geography Cat’s friends Marian and Martin in Greatford, south Lincolnshire. Whilst he was there they took a walk over and along the West Glen River. The bridge was constructed in the late 18th century and Ike looked through the overhanging branches of the weeping willows to see the river flowing at a normal level. Marian recalled how much higher and faster the river was flowing last Christmas Eve when the area flooded.
Flooding used to be a bigger problem in the village, but in 1954 the Greatford Cut was created which took water from the West Glen River to the River Welland. This is an example of river straightening, a flood management strategy using hard engineering. The straightened course allows the water to flow through the area more quickly, making it less likely to flood, although sometimes this makes flooding more likely further downstream. Ike saw some of the gravel that the recent flooding dug out of the cut.
Ike had a good look at the farming that takes place around Greatford. The old watercress beds are no longer visible, but he enjoyed seeing the fields of ridge and furrow left by medieval farmers. The ploughs that were used then were one-sided, and the strips were ploughed in a clockwise direction, rather than up and down. This meant that the soil was moved towards the centre each time it is ploughed, so creating the rectangular strips, raised along the middle, that Ike saw. The ridges actually helped with the drainage of the land. The dips between the furrows also often marked the boundary between land farmed by different farmers. These fields in Greatford are now protected, and the farmers are not allowed to plough them. Sheep were grazing in some of these fields.
Ever-observant Ike noticed sugar beet being harvested next to the place he was staying, and he went to have a look. The sugar beet is taken to a factory at Bury St Edmunds to be processed. He enjoyed watching the tractor as the fields were ploughed and noticed lots of gulls following the tractor.
Ike has another look around the village tomorrow.