The last couple of weeks has seen a significant change over at Beetley Meadows. The large central grass area has been cut down, leaving the whole place totally flat, and strangely open to the elements. The meadow section that gives its name to the area is home to assorted grasses approaching five feet high, dissected by wide paths, suitable for walkers. I have been told, that some years ago, the grasses were cut annually and sold for animal fodder, providing a small income for the Parish Council. Unfortunately, they have lately become infested with Ragwort, and this is unsuitable for animals, so must be eradicated. Once the cutting has calmed down, some specific weed killer will be applied, hopefully sorting out the ragwort problem. Until this is done, and the growing season begins next year, we are now enjoying a very different walking experience over there. The paths have also been widened, to avoid human contact with the encroaching masses of nettles. This seems like a good idea, but has created the overall feel of walking around on a huge park, rather than in countryside.
Luckily, this coincided with the removal of the cattle from the nearby nature reserve of Hoe Rough. We can now wander freely over there, without having to keep the dogs on leads. There has been no cutting or manicuring of paths there, and other than the wide central footpath, it is still a somewhat challenging walking experience. Yesterday, I had to fight my way through thick brambles, spongy ground, and overgrown paths alongside the small river. At one stage, I even got stuck solid in some deceptive ground, which had a ‘quicksand’ consistency, and started to suck the boots off of my feet. My trusty stick got me out of trouble; planting it firmly on solid ground, I was able to lever myself out. I cannot imagine how embarrassed I would have felt, if discovered cold and wet by some walkers, having been stuck firm for most of the afternoon. I will be sure to avoid that spot in future.
One benefit of the cutting on Beetley Meadows, is that you are now able to see everyone clearly. No more chances of suddenly coming across someone with an unfriendly dog, or bumping into small children who are scared of animals. Funnily enough, most dogs, including Ollie, choose not to venture too far onto the freshly-cut expanse. Perhaps they are conscious of the snakes that are still there, preparing to hibernate for the winter. Or maybe they are unhappy with the unusual smells found within, or avoiding the lack of natural cover, previously provided by the high grass and weeds. One thing’s for sure, I will now have to consider my choice of dog-walking places for this winter. The Meadows will be very boring for a good while to come. So, Hoe Rough, Mill Lane, and Neatherd Moor will all be back on my list of destinations, and Ollie will have some places to rediscover soon.