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The British Countryside - Managed by Man

I cannot help but feel as I wander through the British countryside that its nature is as God intended......managed by man.

Hawthorne hedge and rape field
Hawthorne hedge and rape field

The last week of May found me staying at a charming little cottage in a farmyard near Lowick. The farm was about 7 miles inland of the Northumberland coast, yet due to its elevated position you could stand in the yard and see the sea in the distance. The farm was accessed by a tidy road that ran alongside a stream that meandered through the bottom of a small valley. The land was light (possibly grade 2) comprising largely of reclaimed moorland and heath that now grew mostly combineable crops of wheat, barley and rape. Between these crops were an oasis of trees, hedges, streams, copses and rough pasture that mostly hugged the sides of the stream. In these areas wildlife thrived and it was relatively easy to see or hear forty or fifty bird species within a few hours. Some rough pasture was managed by grazing sheep and horses. Adjacent to the farm was a medium sized bed and breakfast pig unit. The arable crops of barley, wheat and rape all looked good and if anything were slightly ahead of many of the crops in my native Lincolnshire. As well as the vast selection of birds there were also loads of insects, butterflies and mammals. With little background noise from human activity the noise of birdsong was amazing with distant cuckoos in the dawn chorus, warblers and skylark during the day and nightingale at night. The whole of this farm was thriving with wildlife, yet nearly every bit of the landscape was adapted by man.

The simple fact is that what I saw was farming as part of the countryside. I cannot see how the numerous habitats provided by this environment could be improved. Man's activity, especially that of farmers, should not be condemned as being against nature, but rather alongside nature. I cannot help but feel that the environment of Barwood Mill Farm is as it should be.

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