Lord Grey of Codnor, CPRE Cheshire - Our landscapes link with our lives
PUBLISHED: 00:28 25 July 2013
The first of a regular seasonal column from Lord Grey of Codnor, the President of the CPRE
The Cheshire Branch of the Campaign to Protect Rural England and Cheshire Life magazine have been working together to encourage children to get out into the countryside and write about their experiences for more than ten years now; you may have read six of the winning articles in last month’s issue.
We hear a lot in the press about the younger generation being interested only in their computers and mobile phones but from the entries we received, I can see that a significant number still love getting out into the fresh air, appreciating the natural beauty which surrounds them - which is heartening.
Like Cheshire Life magazine, CPRE Cheshire covers the County Palatine, endowed with special devolved powers by William the Conqueror in the 11th Century to keep the Welsh at bay! The city of Chester, allied to the Crown but with a great deal of autonomy, even had its own Parliament! Although no longer independent from Westminster, we still have the historic county boundaries, encompassing a variety of wonderful rural landscapes.
Take a look at the Cheshire Plain from somewhere like Beeston Castle or The Cloud above Congleton and you’ll see an expanse of fertile ground, a patchwork of green fields bounded by hedgerows. This may be a landscape formed by glaciers but it’s been heavily worked by mankind, and from up here it looks as though most of the outcomes have been positive.
You might have to look a bit more closely to see the blots on the landscape; hedgerows grubbed out and replaced by post and wire fencing, just as effective a barrier but useless as a wildlife corridor. Inappropriate developments in our rural areas. And what’s not visible in this picture is that many of the custodians of this largely agricultural terrain are struggling.
What strikes me about the children’s essays is that most of them are about outdoor activities. Kite-flying, splashing in puddles, collecting leaves and conkers. I see that as an inspiration – as well as passively appreciating the view, what can we do to support the farmers who maintain it for us?
The holidays are here; I’d like to suggest that readers make the most of the summer weather by visiting to one of the farm shops listed on the CPRE Cheshire website. As well as offering really fresh, top-quality local produce direct from the producer, many have other facilities - farm footpaths, or a café. Let’s help the next generation to understand the link between landscape and lunch!
Lord Grey of Codnor is the President of the Cheshire Branch of the Campaign to Protect Rural England. CPRE fights for a better future for the English countryside. We work locally and nationally to protect, shape and enhance a beautiful, thriving countryside for everyone to value and enjoy.