Life under lockdown

Debbie Burstow

The waterfall by Westmill

 

The gate leading onto the Common

 

The daily constitutional!

Spring and early summer have always been my favourite time of year and this April has given us some of the most benevolent spring weather you could hope to enjoy. I have always lived on the edge of town, close to beautiful countryside, and like many, I am enjoying the opportunity to revisit all my childhood haunts as my daily exercise during lockdown (at appropriate social distancing of course!). In the back of my mind however is the knowledge that not everyone is lucky enough to have green space on their doorstep so I count myself very fortunate!

Oughtonhead Common has been the backdrop for my much of my life. Childhood walks holding my father’s hand and playing with local children were succeeded by teenage jaunts with friends and boyfriends. Building ‘dens’ was a popular pastime, clambering over trees fallen into the river or swinging on a rope swing out over the ‘Spinney’ (the source of the river Oughton) and daring each other to jump over the waterfall.¬†¬†Later on my father and I took my own children ‘over the common’, looking for trout under the bridge at Westmill Farm or paddling at the ‘splash’. As I have followed the familiar paths all over the common I have been accompanied by images of my father pushing my son on his trike with his walking stick. The memory of walks with my father are something I will always treasure!

The Common has changed quite a bit since my childhood. As it is now a ‘nature reserve’ there is much more evidence of management of the landscape than existed 50 years ago. Fences forming pens for the animals which are now part of the management scheme, walkways and information boards. But it is now much more common to see families and dog walkers enjoying this resource which was once just farmland bordering the river. The current combination of lockdown and splendid weather has seen huge numbers of people out walking. I even saw two policemen one evening! Not sure if they were enjoying a stroll or looking for illicit gatherings! People seem to be very mindful of distancing when out walking, stepping off the paths to give each other a wide berth and waiting before narrower sections to allow others to pass.

This page was added on 07/05/2020.

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