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Keep the Piece


By Maria Little in support of Wotton Community Land Trust.

Who cares who owns the piece of land that once belonged to Brown, used daily by a few of us to get up into town?
It is a sort of short cut along a muddy track, beside the stream and up the hill, rough ground there and back.

From Clarence Road at the top to Water Lane below, or the other way around depending on how you go.
Above the paths a field, then woodland where shrubs thrive, below it runs a stream which floods from time to time.Brown's Piece footpath

Insects merge on wooded slopes, attracting swifts on the fly. Robins rest on broken branch and bullfinches hop on by.
There stands a willow on the flat before the track slopes down where brambles reign and mud remains as puddles hang around.

It’s narrow and uneven there with nettles that encroach, and darkness lurks when daylight leaves as there are no lampposts.
A secret gem, a rabbit’s den, a squirrel’s playground too. A place to pass along the track someone well known to you.

Locals use it to commute to work and school and back. Runners and dogwalkers often pound its well-worn tracks.
A natural corridor nestled from noise and light pollution which links Wotton to Kingswood as a wild off road solution.

It’s more than just a rural path to get from A to B, it’s part of Wotton’s heritage with its own history.
Where a schoolboy saw a spectre of a woman on a stile and watched her fall then fade away, which scared him for quite a while.

It’s where a youth on a bike skidded into nettles at the edge and in snow a dog stole sausages from a loaded plastic sledge ( and they were Butcher’s porky porks!)
It’s where a meadow used to be, and children used to play in a field of wildflowers on those long hot summer days.

Its where once there was a Lido to sunbath or to swim and old Hack Mill stood tall near to a scrapyard full of tin.
Today its where the willow has dropped a branch again and gravel moves beneath the feet, particularly after rain.

It’s slippy and its slidey and it squelches on the flat. We step around and over to avoid legs being scratched.
At least one path across the top has disappeared from sight engulfed by years of overgrowth left to its own device.

It’s unkempt and untidy but not overlooked or lost. Left what could be called β€˜rewilded’, natural and at low cost.
The whole eleven acres are ours to roam around
but for how much longer will this privilege be allowed?

If removed from public access or fenced off from public view it could become a place, we can no longer wander through.
Once this has been settled of course the land will still be there but if concretes poured upon it, then it’s too late to care.

So, if you use this area and wish to carry on, please pledge support for Wotton Community Land Trust, as soon it may be gone.
Let’s not take it for granted and act now, if we can, to keep the piece at Brown’s and protect our strip of land.