Meadowlands

For me June is all about meadows. Once a common sight in the countryside and on the fringes of our towns and cities they have slowly vanished from our cultural and agricultural landscape.

The shocking truth is that in the last sixty years we’ve lost virtually all of our meadows. And the remainder have become so important as fragile islands of beauty teeming with wildlife.

The wonderful thing about a meadow is that it can stop you in your tracks and massage your senses. In some parts of the UK we’ve woken up to the need to revive them such as the great work to restore haymeadows in the Yorkshire Dales.

Like the decline in traditional orchards this lost has happened almost without anyone noticing except for a few people that have a passion for them. There has been none of the public outcry as there was, quite rightly, with the possible Government sell-off of Forestry Commission land in England.

And yet meadows are at a very human scale. They feel really personal.

My favourite meadow is a short walk from the eastern fringes of Bath overlooked by Little Solsbury Hill. I don’t know who owns this wonderful place but every time I wander through it, it lifts the spirits and makes my heart sing.

Wildflowers and a wonderful array of grasses are at the heart of a meadow. My kids love the quaking grass, seeing the grasses gently blowing in the breeze and collecting meadow treasure as we walked slowly along the valley floor near to a babbling brook.

This could be taken for some rural idyll stuck in the past. But I’d argue that an hour in a meadow fires the imagination, helps recharge the batteries and gets you connected with nature.

Watching ringlet butterflies flutter gently on a drizzly morning or taking time to marvel at a bright orange beetle is a wonderful experience. Meadows are great places for kids (and adults) to spend some quality wild time; a place that feels so magical with plenty to keep you occupied.

As we left the meadow I felt an enormous sense of well-being. I always get this feeling in this meadow. In some ways its really difficult to describe and capture in words.

I’m not one for nostalgia but meadows and the wildlife they support and the place they have in our rich natural and rural history means that we should celebrate and save them. Otherwise they’ll be gone and future generations won’t be able enjoy them.

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