26 Oct
2013
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Ash trees on the common

Minchinhampton Common is glowing in the low autumn sunshine. The limestone grassland, pockmarked with scars left by prehistoric field systems, Neolithic long barrows, quarries and second world war defences, provides a wonderful natural playground and Izzy is having a whale of a time racing up and down the steep sides of the depressions. I did the same as a kid. I have many happy memories of kite flying, dog-walking, blackberrying, ice-cream eating and sledging here. As a teenager, I sometimes stumbled back over the common with my friends, after a night out in nearby Stroud.

I help Izzy to scramble up one of the very climbable Ash trees. Some of them have low branches rubbed bare by scratching cows, which are bouncy and good for swinging on. I remember playing on similar trees myself, imagining that I was riding the waves in a boat.

I wonder whether there will still be Ash trees like these when Izzy has her own children. For, this species is threatened by Chalara Dieback, a fungal disease that often leads to the death of an infected tree. It is likely that we will lose many of our Ash trees in Britain and Minchinhampton Common may look very different in a few year’s time.

But, for now, Izzy picks up some Ash leaves from the ground and waves them like flags, with a huge grin on her face and I can’t stop smiling either. It is a perfect evening.

Checklist

Practicalities

We parked in a designated car parking spot close to Whitfields Tump then just wandered around rather aimlessly, letting Izzy explore.

Other places to climb Ash trees

So, what do you think?