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In praise of common land

Category:Spark life
Posted by: Vicki on 09/06/2011

Where Bill celebrates the welcome return of the grazing cattle to the common land near his home in Stroud
In the past couple of weeks, cattle have returned to Rodborough and Minchinhampton Commons right by my house, yet another sign that summer is fast approaching.

Minchinhampton Common sign

I featured the commons on the current issue’s OUT! page as they are Stroud’s most striking geographical asset, a major draw for anyone who loves the great outdoors.

Cows on Rodborough Common

In these days of rampant capitalism, it is reassuring to know that there are large areas of land that are for public use. In addition to public access rights, common land has ancient rights of pasture that must be exercised every year or the rights are lost.

Cows on Rodborough Common

There are a couple of herds that get to take advantage of the lush Stroud heathland grass from late spring to autumn. Signs warn motorists (and cyclists like myself) as they approach the commons that livestock roam freely. On the day I took these pictures, the black cow below had just stopped all traffic as she crossed over to munch on tastier grass by the roadside.

Cows on Rodborough Common

Cattle grids stop the cows from wandering too far from the commons and rangers erect seasonal fences to keep the cows out of neighbouring gardens - like mine!

Rodborough Common flower

The National Trust says that the commons are “home to the rare pasque flower and 13 species of orchid”. I took some pictures of flowers on a recent walk. I’m not a botanist, so if anyone is able to identify these beauties, I’d be grateful.

Rodborough Common flowers

The other aspect of the commons  - and this includes Selsley Common across the valley from Rodborough – is that they have views across the Severn Estuary. On a clear day, you can see as far as the Malvern Hills and the Black Mountains. They’re also a great spot for walks with or without dogs and kids and, now the weather’s better, paragliding.

Rodborough Common flowers

Rodborough Common flowers

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