Tuesday, 4 November 2014
All change in our valley . . .
It might be colder, but at least the sun has been out long enough to plan some walks. Yesterday, in between showers, I did a leg-stretching walk just up the valley. This is the view between the trees looking towards the Iron Age camp on the hilltop opposite, though there's a branch and a big covert of gorse concealing the margins.
The view upstream from the bridge shows that many trees have been hanging on to their leaves. There is beech and oak along this stretch, and some alder too.
Downstream there is more oak and ash, and the ash trees at the side of our yard and fencelines have already shed their leaves. The remains of the Rosebay Willowherb here are now bleached and almost without colour apart from the odd yellowed leaf.
A slightly different angle for the view up the valley, looking through the copse beside the little hill leading Northwards from the bridge. This was once a grazing field, a bit wet, but good rough grazing, but then the owner got a grant for planting it up with native trees and these have grown on well now.
The lane up the valley - a very familiar view.
Burgundy pink leaves decorated bare twigs in the hedgerow.
The lane ahead was tempting, but then I noticed the gates wide open into another stretch of former grazing planted up with trees, and a quarry-waste road had been laid across it. Of course, curiosity got the better of me then. What was our neighbour J up to?
The tree plantings had been thinned out, but there are some lovely young trees growing on - lots of hazel, birch, some oak and a other indigenous species are thriving. Hard to imagine we used to canter the horses across here . . .
Gosh, this had changed. Once a footpath and on the left a picnic area, trees had been cleared and a broader vista of the valley has emerged. The conifers on the left are at Horeb, I believe.
Then - desecration. I remember this as a quite grassy path along the riverbank, with a few small alder and birch and hazel trees growing thinly in front of stands of older ash. A lot of ash woodland still remains (for the moment), and alder too, hence no leaves still on the trees.
Now the sylvan setting where we would see deer was laid waste. Some of the ivy-clad ash has benefitted from felling, I don't doubt, but what a mess . . .
I had to remind myself that the clearance would allow all sorts of woodland plants to flourish, once they had the light, like these Foxgloves, who already seemed to think spring had come twice in the same year!
Meanwhile the river keeps on flowing, as it always has done in some shape or another. This is nothing it hasn't seen before, since this is no way primary woodland, or even secondary. Judging by the sizes of most of the remaining trees, this area could well have been felled for pit-props for the mines, or for trenches during WW1. It certainly hasn't been managed woodland since WWII.
One last bit of sadness - the big old barn beside what used to be a picnic site has now been dragged down and all its wriggly tin rent asunder . . . Nothing stays still. My son would regret its passing, as he and his mates used to camp here on summer nights, or down beside the river, just where everything is being flattened and cut down. Mind you, we will probably (hopefully!!!) be long gone from Wales when he returns from his travels (he goes on to NZ in January) and so it may well be a long time before he comes back along this valley to see what the passing years have done to it . . .
Right, we have sold the big old rocking chair at the Unit, so I had better polish up its replacement.