ARCHIVE: LEVELS 56 – IN THE UNDERGROWTH, SWANSHARD LANE


This image is best seen enlarged – click onto it to open a larger version in a separate window, and click onto that image to enlarge it further – recommended .

Moving through early morning’s wet undergrowth in Swanshard Lane, and chancing upon this: motionless within an object of natural beauty that it has itself created, a predator waits.

Technique: Z 6 with 70-300 Nikkor lens at 300mm; 3200 ISO; Lightroom, starting at the Camera Landscape v2 profile; in the bushes beside Swanshard Lane, on the Somerset Levels southwest of Wells; 23 Aug 2019.

SOMERSET LEVELS: SOME KEYWORDS

And finally – some keywords that will often be mentioned in this archive series:

Droves:  to avoid crossing other peoples’ land when accessing their own, the farmers constructed a series of tracks, known as droves, between the fields. Some of these droves are now metalled roads and many persist as open tracks – all of which allow wonderfully open access to this countryside.

Rhynes: the fields are bounded by water-filled ditches – which both drain the ground and act as stock barriers. Hence strange landscapes – where fields appear quite unbounded, except for a gate with a short length of fencing on either side of it, where a bridge crosses the water-filled boundary ditch to provide access the field.  These small wet ditches communicate with larger rhynes (“reen” as in Doreen), which in turn flow into larger drains, e.g. the North and South Drains in the Brue Valley. All of these waterways are manmade and, by intricate series of pumping stations and flood gates, all of them have their water levels controlled by local farmers, internal drainage boards or the Environment Agency.

Pollarded Willows: the banks of the rhynes were often planted with Willow trees, both to help strengthen the banks and also to show the courses of roads and tracks during floods. These Willows are often pollarded, i.e. their upper branches are cut off, which results in distinctively broad and dense heads to the trees. Pollarding keeps trees to a required height, while ensuring a steady supply of wood – more important in the past than now – for fires, thatching spars, fencing and so on.



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