April 2nd, 2007

Wanaka tree

Shapwick Heath

I've mentioned the landscape I grew up in, many times before. My village is in the middle of Sedgemoor, which is an area of low land in the middle of Somerset. The land was drained and managed from the Middle Ages but before that it was basically just marsh and swamp. My childhood was spent under rain clouds, or so it seemed, with it just as wet underfoot. Let's put it this way, I wore wellies far more than I wore sandals. Of course, it was sunny at times too, but water was the predominant element. The flooding of huge areas of Sedgemoor was common and there would always be marks on the gateposts to the fields to show just how high the previous winter's flooding had been. This is one reason why I always welcome the spring. The waters recede and the world comes alive once again. Even in the vilest of weather it can be beautiful here, but in spring the greens are greener and the whole place is teeming with life again. Farming has become more intensive than it was when I was a child and a lot of the wilder places seem to have disappeared. Happily, there are some places that have been retained and allowed to stay wild. 

One such place is Shapwick Heath Nature Reserve and, believe it or not, I had never been there before, until Saturday. Yes, I've been through the area and past it lots of times, probably a dozen times this year already, but I'd never actually stopped and wandered in before. 

This is what I saw.

Trees growing out of murky ponds

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