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Yar Estuary walk and AONB boundary review

A walk along the Yar estuary

I can join the Freshwater to Yarmouth walk just down my road. It is currently my favourite walk as it seems to capture the best landscapes of lowland England. I head out one glorious September morning.

The prominent landscape feature of the walk Is the Western Yar estuary and I cross the river at the Freshwater causeway with a warning sign alerting driver to be aware of the possibility that swans might be in the road. Are Swans that small that they could be overlooked?

Then the walk is along the old railway line that once served Yarmouth town. The railway line which closed in 1953, is long since dismantled but you can still spot the old metal fence posts that once ran along side the line. The woodland growing up here is quite diverse and on previous walks I have once spotted a dormouse and on numerous occasions red squirrels. Today, I spot a Buzzard lurking in the wood and it flies from one tree to another before flying off across the river.

Past Backets copse the view of the estuary opens up and takes centre stage. Today, I see curlew, lapwing and an egret but later in the year, the estuary is full of wading birds and I have seen Avocet, Spoonbill and my favourite goose, the Dark Bellied Brent Geese where at times, they can be seen in their hundreds. And a  perfect sight it is too.

Wildlife designations

The Yar Estuary is internationally recognised for its special wildlife and the designations include a Site of Special Scientific Interest, a  RAMSAR and a Special Protection Area.   Each one of these designations is from a different body and should give the area, particularly the wildlife and waterscape protection against any potential damaging development. The fourth designation afforded to the river and surrounding hinterland including Yarmouth town is the Isle of Wight Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. There is a national government AONB boundary review currently taking place and I sincerely hope that more of the Island will be given AONB status as the current boundary makes little sense to me.

As I head towards Yarmouth I take a diversion to Mill Copse. This lovely woodland manged by the Wight Nature Fund has a rich variety of trees to be found in it. My favourites must be the coppiced Field Maple to be found on the far side along the footpath. Goodness knows when they were last coppiced, but they do look magnificently ancient.

Yarmouth Town

Back on the old railway line, past the old water mill into Yarmouth. Plenty to see and do in Yarmouth, best pub is arguably the Kings Head but I go and look at the newly restored pier – built in 1876 it is said to the oldest  wooden pier in the country and has just been beautifully restored, thanks to the help of the Heritage Lottery Fund grant of £778,000. I want to see the lobster boats, but all I see is their gear squeezed between some posh yachts.

I cross the Yar over the bridge, bypassing Norton Spit with its sand dunes habitat – the only sand dune habitat that I know of on the Island. Up through Saltern Wood with its No Trespassing signs, I see evidence of badgers and onto the highest point of the walk and views of the chalk downland hills and of Tennyson Monument. But I will leave that walk for another day.

 

Photos and text Pete Johnstone

Photographing the Greensand Country

Greensand Country Landscape Partnership

It was particularly pleasing to secure a photography commission from the Greensand Country Landscape Partnership as previously, some years back, I had played a part in helping to devise the Audience Development Plan for the project.

My current role is to help build up a library of photographs that feature the distinctive qualities of the Greensand Country. The two days recently spent in the area were to focus on taking photographs of the first Greensand Country Festival (26th May – 3rd June 2018) with the photos helping to monitor progress and for use in future Festival guides and publicity.

In all I attended 6 Festival events ranging from a ramblers walk, a very well attended Walk4health walk through the lovely and recently restored Ampthill Great Park (again HLF Funded) a Forest School activity through to a singing event on Woburn Sands Station!

I thoroughly enjoyed the two days which was really helped by people happily allowing me to take their photographs.  While taking the photos I must have spoken to several dozen people and it is surprising how few have heard of the HLF funded Landscape Partnership schemes.

These Landscape Partnerships have helped restore many local landscapes up and around the country and one that has engaged many thousands of people in the process. Just one of life’s hidden gems, I guess.

Background: Greensand Country is an island of distinctive, beautiful and loved countryside in the heart of Bedfordshire. The area contains all of Bedfordshire’s remaining heathland, more than half of its woodland and more historic parkland per hectare than anywhere else in the country. It is a landscape rich in wildlife and cultural heritage, with its own special qualities and sense of place.

More info: http://greensandcountry.com/

Photographs. Taken by Pete Johnstone, published courtesy of Greensand Country ©. All images have parental permissions where required.

 

 

Elements of the Landscape

Now at the start of April, Elements in the Landscape is just beginning to take shape with lots of phone calls resulting in some more people allowing me to take their photograph. My project is very much about the people in the landscape and their connection to it as it is about the landscape itself.

Jenny Furong, Chatteris Museum

Jenny Furlong, Chatteris Museum

Jenny Furlong is the volunteer Curator of Chatteris Museum, a post she has held for 15 years and now shares with Ian Mason. The Museum moved to the present location in Chatteris in 1995.

One of the exhibits in the Museum is on Cornelius Vermuyden who in the 1650s commissioned by the Crown, directed major projects to drain the Fens and who constructed a system of ‘washes’, to allow periodic flooding of the area by water.

 

Paul Fox and Peter Gardiner, Welney

Paul Fox and Peter Gardiner, Welney

Welney Residents Users Group is a community action group that was formed in 2014 and established as a charity in March 2015. In April 2015 RUG took over the lease of Sandgate Corner – a large overgrown field in the north of the village. Welney RUG are in the process of turning the area into a community greenspace and wildlife area, with orchard, sensory garden and play area.

Peter Gardiner pruning in the orchard

Peter Gardiner pruning in the orchard.

Peter Gardiner a resident of Welney for almost 17 years and a member of RUG has recently retired and has spent some of his spare time helping with the selection, planning and planting of the orchard and native trees.

The young fruit trees will require yearly pruning and with this in mind Peter and another resident recently attended a pruning course with the East of England Apples and Orchards Project to learn the necessary skills required to maintain the new fruit trees.

 

Fred Ingrams painting in the fens

Fred Ingrams painting in the fens.

The fens have changed my life said Fred, an artist who has a passion for painting the fens landscape. I will be painting a scene when a farmer will come up to me and tell me some amazing stories, there is a certain quality about the fen people and landscape which is unique and not to be found anywhere else.

PJ.elements have been awarded a small grant by the Ouse Washes Landscape Partnership Scheme to deliver Elements of the Landscape, a project to photograph people living and working in the Ouse Washes landscape and document their story through images. The people captured in the portraits will have a connection to the land or water, farming, biodiversity crafts or community life.

The Ouse Washes Landscape Partnership Scheme is a 3-year project largely funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund. The scheme focuses on the promotion of the area surrounding the Ouse Washes, the heart of the Cambridgeshire and Norfolk Fens, and on encouraging community engagement with the area’s diverse heritage.

Pop up consultations on the Secrets of the Sands

PJ.elements joined forces with Resources for Change to undertake community consultations in the ‘Secrets of the Sands’ landscape area and nearby Bedford and Milton Keynes to discover how much people know about the Bedfordshire Greensand Ridge.

 

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Consultation in Flitwick, Central Beds. Photo: Pete Johnstone

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An avenue of parkland trees on the Greensand Ridge. Photo: Pete Johnstone

The Research is part of our work with the Interpretation consultancy TellTale and the Secrets of the Sands Landscape Partnership Scheme funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund.

The results of our work will feed into the Interpretation and Audience Development Plan for the Project’s stage two Heritage Lottery Fund application. More information on the Secrets of the Sands Landscape Partnership Scheme can be found here

‘Secrets of the Sands’ is the landscape partnership scheme for the a long narrow wooded sandstone ridge running 35 miles south west to north east from Leighton Buzzard to Gamlingay to the south of Bedford. It is a fascinating area of woodlands, heathland and many old parkland estates with their ancient trees. Certainly a hidden landscape and one worth exploring!

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Rowney Warren, a Forestry Commission Woodland not far from Shefford. Photo: Pete Johnstone

 

Images © Pete Johnstone

New funding for Natural Cambridgeshire – the Local Nature Partnership

The Heritage Lottery Fund has awarded Cambridgeshire County Council a £10,000 grant to support and develop the work of the Local Nature Partnership.

Phil Clark the Natural Cambridgeshire Coordinator said, “We will use the money to support our work across Cambridgeshire & Peterborough, putting nature and people at the heart of the decision-making process.

The funding will help us to develop a business plan, identify sustainable funding options and run

Walk for Wifi (1 of 1)a programme of events to listen to and work with local residents, business, farmers and developers to seek their ideas and views on how we can ensure the natural environment is both protected and indeed benefits from ongoing growth agenda in the County.

Thanks are due to Pete Johnstone who helped with the initial concept and who put together the Heritage Lottery Fund application together which included talking to most of the partnership to gauge their views on what should be funded.”

Natural Cambridgeshire contact information:

Coordinator Phil Clark, on 01223 715686: philip.clark@cambridgeshire.gov.uk Twitter:

@naturalcambs or website: www.gclnp@wordpress.com

If your LNP or similar organisation would like help with fundraising please contact Pete Johnstone, email pete.johnstone@pjelements.co.uk

 

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