In the process of creating a nature reserve and natural burial ground, over a number of acres and a number of years, it is inevitable that ideas will change. The first design map, imagining what the site would look like, was drawn up in 2005: it was a beautiful possible landscape, with curves and loops, copses and parkland trees. Yet, immediately we started to work on the land, the land began to teach us. It didn’t take long before we were simplifying our ideas, learning every step of the way.
Since the first version was put in place by the main car park, in 2006, the interpretation board has been updated and replaced once, in 2012. However, over the past year or so, when showing visitors around the site, I’ve had to explain how its map was in fact sadly out of date. I was – I promised them – in the process of designing the new one. It is a relief to be able to announce that it is now in place.
The design, slightly altered, is just as simple, but the map shows more detail. You can now see just where the areas of wildflower meadow are, and will be, as you can with the woodland, hedgerows and copses. You can also see where we will be leaving a wide grassy ride. The cairn, Tyr’s stone, the butterfly stones and other features are identified. Some of the established paths are on there, although others will be added.
You’ll notice that the north-eastern corner is not complete. In years to come, what is now the top car park will become the main entrance, and we are still in the process of designing exactly how that will be. When our ideas are clearer, we’ll be showing you the plans and asking for your feedback. And when those plans start coming into being, of course, it’ll be time for a new interpretation board!
Until then, I look at the photograph above. The wildflower meadow is mown, but for small pockets for little creatures to hide in. The trees are a dark dull green, some leaves starting to turn and fall. The sky is pale. It’s a dreary autumn day in the heart of England, damp and chilly. But even on such a day, the map shows hope and promise: of wildflower meadows in full bloom, butterflies, bees, and the skylark in full song. It won’t be long – winter is before us, but summer will return …