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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.