Ashwick Parish is lucky to be surrounded by a wide variety of both natural and man-made landscapes, from steep hillsides, to open fields and hidden valleys, to ancient caves, woodland and copses, to abondoned quarries and mine workings, to sometimes hidden streams and of course, our local farmland. This is pretty good for an area that in 1795 was deemed 'worthless heathland' by John Billingsley (of Ashwick Grove): changes to agricultural practice though have altered the evironment, for better or worse, to what we see today. But hidden away away within our surroundings are trees that were planted by Billingsley and others, some as parkland trees but many as field boundaries, with these now nearly 200 years old. Long abandoned water-meadows, mill ponds, dams are still around, waiting to be discovered along with their associated flora and fauna.
The aim of this section is to provide a starting point for those who wish to learn more about our local environment and to provide a link to associated websites or organisations.
There is a wild plant charity called Plantlife (www.plantlife.org.uk), which is hoping to reach out to many wild plant enthusiasts and nature lovers by inviting them to become wild plant 'pioneers' - and to find out more about our native wild plants via the 'Wild About Plants' project website - www.wildaboutplants.org.uk . The Wild About Plants project aims to help people reconnect with the outdoors and their local greenspaces. They work with schools, families and communities from all walks of life and with their downloadable resources, hope to engage people with the nature on their doorstep. For example, in recent years subscribers have been asked to record the plant life in their local area and recount what they used to see/pick and forage for. (anything from Sloe berries, blackberries, crab apples, wild garlic, conkers, nuts, bluebells and so on).
Not really recommended at the moment as the Harridge Wood Troll, having been evicted from under the bridge in the woods, is believed to be in residence in one of the local caves. (it is thought that the troll is not living in the 'Fairy Caves' as it would not do his street-cred any good, but we cannot say for sure).
COUNTY FLOWER OF SOMERSET
And finally, did you know there was an official 'County Flower for Somerset? Well there is and it is 'Dianthus gratianopolitanus' commonly known as the 'Cheddar Pink'. Ever since its discovery 300 years ago, this pretty, scented pink has been the pride of Somerset.
It grows in several places in the Mendip Hills, but nowhere more profusely than the original site at Cheddar Gorge. It prefers limestone rocks and the best time to see it is when it flowers June to July.
copyright photo: Andrew Gagg - Plantlife