Paul - who brings friendly nonsense (blur_kiwi) wrote,
Paul - who brings friendly nonsense

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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

Oak tree an the banks of a rhyne (local name for a large drainage ditch)

More trees with wet feet

The route of the Sweet Track, at six thousand years old, the oldest known roadway in Britain. It was a series of wooden planks and stakes making its way across the marshes. It's covered up again now to preserve it, but there is a section in the Somerset County Museum in Taunton. Just to put it into perspective, this was more than a thousand years before Stonehenge.

I loved the way that much of the drier land had been repossessed by trees, particularly silver birch.

A boggy wilderness

In a few weeks, these will be large, yellow Flag Irises.

It's not all marsh and bog. Even though this is below sea level it still turns into heathland.

Finally, my favourite photo from the day. The sun kept coming and going and I was so frustrated at one point, waiting for the clouds to go away that I actually looked up to see how much longer it would be. This is what I you.
Tags: spring, uk pics

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