Skaters glide across ‘artificially frozen ice stadium’ in flooded field

People play ice hockey on frozen flooded fields near Ely in Cambridgeshire, as the cold snap continu

People play ice hockey on frozen flooded fields near Ely in Cambridgeshire, as the cold snap continues to grip much of the nation. - Credit: PA

It wouldn’t be the Fens as we know it, without skating – and that only happen when meadows and fields are frozen over.   

Last weekend they were and it brought out the skaters to a remote part of Fens near Ely for what many now think is almost a once in a decade experience.   

People ice skate on frozen flooded fields near Ely in Cambridgeshire, as the cold snap continues to

The Cambridgeshire Fens were the birthplace of British speed skating and require four nights of frost, with a temperature of -4 or colder and little or no thawing during the days in between, to make ice strong enough to skate on. - Credit: PA

Thanks to recent sub-zero temperatures, albeit only temporarily, a sport first enjoyed in the Fens in the 19th century once again became a reality.   

And as proponents of ice skating in the Fens remind us, it is better known as bandy.   

A woman takes a selfie as she ice skates on frozen flooded fields near Ely in Cambridgeshire, as the

A woman takes a selfie as she ice skates on frozen flooded fields near Ely in Cambridgeshire, as the cold snap continues to grip much of the nation. - Credit: PA

“We need an uncovered artificially frozen ice stadium here on the fens,” says Lyn Gibb-de-Swarte, an ardent enthusiast and principal campaigner.   


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In the meantime, it was back to the glorious, flooded, frozen Upware fields where, with the farmer’s permission, some 30 skaters braved both the ice and the weather.   

People ice skate on frozen flooded fields near Ely in Cambridgeshire, as the cold snap continues to

People ice skate on frozen flooded fields near Ely in Cambridgeshire. - Credit: PA

Roger Giles, a member of the Fen Centre, part of the National Ice-Skating Association, told Cambridge student newspaper Varsity: “We only get a short window due to the weather, and this year has been touch and go due to the weather”.   

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“We haven’t been able to be as informative though as recent years due to the pandemic and have not managed to organise any racing like previous years”.

People play ice hockey on frozen flooded fields near Ely in Cambridgeshire, as the cold snap continu

People play ice hockey on frozen flooded fields near Ely in Cambridgeshire. - Credit: PA

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