Four Seasons

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Text © Copyright Evelyn Simak, May 2017
Images are under a separate Creative Commons Licence.


... at the Hellington and Rockland Community Reserve


In 2014, the development and management of the Hellington and Rockland St Mary Community Reserve, located at the eastern end of Hellington Low Common, was taken on by a community trust, with the rent for the use of the land, which is owned by the Parochial Church Council, being paid from stakeholders' subscriptions. The reserve is bounded by crop fields in the south. Drainage ditches mark the eastern, western and northern boundaries. Hawthorn, willows, ash and elder are growing alongside these ditches. One of the group's first actions has been the removal of a stand of ragwort, a widespread weed toxic to horses and cattle if ingested. In November of the same year, volunteers planted 600 native hedge plants, shrubs and trees in the south-western part of the reserve. A wooden footbridge has been constructed across the beck to provide access to the marsh meadows, and a circular path leading around the perimeter of the northern section of the reserve was also cleared. In July 2016 the reserve was designated a South Norfolk County Wildlife Site (CWS) and assigned the number 2262.

TG3203 : Information board by Evelyn Simak
It was recently installed by the entrance into the community reserve.
by Evelyn Simak
Shared Description


The reserve is reached by following a farm track leading in an easterly direction from where the public road ends at Hellington Low Common. A small car park serves both the visitors of the reserve and the users of a public footpath. The track ends at the reserve's south-western corner, where a compost toilet has conveniently been placed.

TG3203 : Small car park at the eastern end of Low Common by Evelyn Simak
At the start of a path leading to the Hellington and Rockland St Mary Community Reserve.
by Evelyn Simak
Shared Description


TG3203 : Sign pointing the way by Evelyn Simak
This recently installed sign points the way to the Hellington and Rockland St Mary community reserve at Low Common. For a wider view of this location see > LinkExternal link.
by Evelyn Simak
Shared Description


TG3203 : Permissive path east of Low Common by Evelyn Simak
The path leads to the Hellington and Rockland St Mary Community Reserve.
by Evelyn Simak
Shared Description


TG3203 : Pastures beside The Beck by Evelyn Simak
The meadows seen in the background are part of the Hellington and Rockland St Mary Community Reserve.
by Evelyn Simak
Shared Description


TG3203 : Toilet beside permissive path by Evelyn Simak
This quaint little loo > LinkExternal link is situated beside the path leading into the Hellington and Rockland St Mary Community Reserve, and ideally placed at a junction of several permissive paths. What an excellent idea and something I have never before seen anywhere else.
by Evelyn Simak
Shared Description


The site can also be reached from the north via a permissive path linking with one of several public footpaths turning off The Street in Rockland St Mary. An unofficial shortcut across a boundary ditch turns off this path, leading into the reserve from its northern boundary.

TG3204 : Permissive path skirting the northern edge of Low Common by Evelyn Simak
A public footpath in the area has recently been re-routed and several unofficial paths are now no longer accessible due to a new landowner having put up stock fencing around his fields. A new permissive path was however installed, presumably to compensate for the loss of several others which were lost.
by Evelyn Simak


TG3204 : Drainage ditch on the northern edge of Low Common by Evelyn Simak
A narrow track turning off the permissive path along the northern boundary of Low Common leads across the drainage ditch seen here and provides the only access into the Hellington and Rockland Community Reserve from the north.
by Evelyn Simak
Shared Description


With the help of local volunteers and supported by the Norfolk Wildlife Trust and the Parish and South Norfolk District Councils, the trust aims to manage the condition of the reserve, a designated county wildlife site and covers 6.6 acres of ground, and to create a healthy environment for diverse species of flora and fauna to flourish, and to educate visitors of all ages, with the objectives of improving the condition of the reserve and providing opportunities to enjoy the countryside.

The reserve consists of two distinctive and quite different habitats, separated from each other by a small stream known as the Hellington Beck which bisects it. A footbridge carries the circular walk leading along the edge of the reserve over the stream, continuing in a northerly direction.

TG3203 : View along The Beck by Evelyn Simak
East of Low Common. The Beck traverses the Hellington and Rockland St Mary Community Reserve, dividing it into two distinctive and quite different habitats.
by Evelyn Simak
Shared Description


TG3203 : New footbridge on new permissive path by Evelyn Simak
The bridge takes the path over The Beck, which traverses the Hellington and Rockland St Mary Community Reserve.
by Evelyn Simak
Shared Description


The area south of the beck, with the highest elevation being near the south-eastern corner, comprises dry and sandy ground with an area of neutral grassland adjacent in the south. Here a picnic area with sections of tree trunks serving as seats has been created at the foot of an ancient English oak tree. This is a good vantage point offering views in all directions. Crop fields adjoin immediately to the south.

TG3203 : Meadow south of The Beck by Evelyn Simak
This view shows the southern part of the Hellington and Rockland St Mary Community Reserve.
by Evelyn Simak
Shared Description


TG3203 : Picnic area south of The Beck by Evelyn Simak
On the southern edge of the Hellington and Rockland St Mary Community Reserve.
by Evelyn Simak
Shared Description


TG3203 : Dead bracken on a field boundary by Evelyn Simak
This narrow path leads to a picnic area on the Hellington and Rockland St Mary Community Reserve.
by Evelyn Simak
Shared Description


The lower-lying area to the north of the beck is reached via a recently constructed footbridge, with the path leading northwards from there along the western boundary ditch. This part of the reserve consists mainly of marshy grassland which is traversed by a few narrow drainage ditches. Plants preferring a damp habitat populate this area, and the environment encountered here is hence markedly different from that of the reserve's higher and dryer southern part.

TG3203 : View across the Community Reserve by Evelyn Simak
This view was taken from the path skirting the marsh meadows, looking towards the higher ground to the south of the beck.
by Evelyn Simak
Shared Description


TG3203 : View across the Community Reserve by Evelyn Simak
This view was taken from the elevated area south of the beck, looking towards the marsh meadows in the northern part of the reserve.
by Evelyn Simak
Shared Description


Along the gently rising northern edge gorse, willow scrub and bramble patches are growing on both sides of the path which here traverses a small area of neutral grassland before turning southerly again.

TG3204 : Permissive path around Low Common by Evelyn Simak
This section of the circular path leads along the northern boundary of the Hellington and Rockland St Mary Community Reserve.
by Evelyn Simak
Shared Description


TG3204 : Gorse (Ulex) by Evelyn Simak
Gorse is closely related to the brooms and all species have yellow flowers, some with a very long flowering season. The only species native in most of western Europe is Common Gorse (Ulex europaeus). Common Gorse flowers most profusely in spring, but it bears flowers throughout the year and there is an old saying that when gorse is out of blossom, kissing is out of fashion. Other names for gorse are furse, whin and furze.
by Evelyn Simak
Shared Description


TG3204 : Permissive path on Low Common by Evelyn Simak
The path leads around the northern boundary of the Hellington and Rockland St Mary Community Reserve before veering south and skirting the western boundary ditch.
by Evelyn Simak
Shared Description


Following the circular walk southwards from there, first skirting the eastern boundary ditch and then traversing the edge of the marsh meadows where plank bridges carry it across a few minor ditches so narrow that they can quite easily be stepped over, the path leads past a stand of bramble and raspberry before reaching a small wooded area immediately adjacent to the beck. From here the path turns westerly, leading along the northern bank of the stream and back to the footbridge.

TG3204 : View across the northern edge of Low Common by Evelyn Simak
The grass growing on the marsh meadows is very coarse and mixed with rushes and reeds, and due to the waterlogged soft ground can only be cut with machinery which is not too heavy to get bogged. This area forms part of the Hellington and Rockland St Mary Community Reserve.
by Evelyn Simak
Shared Description


TG3203 : Plank bridge over a drainage ditch by Evelyn Simak
On the Hellington and Rockland St Mary Community Reserve. The yellow flowering plants are Ficaria verna (formerly Ranunculus ficaria L), commonly known as lesser celandine or pilewort.
by Evelyn Simak
Shared Description


TG3203 : Hellington Beck by Evelyn Simak
The stream traverses the Hellington and Rockland St Mary Community Reserve.
by Evelyn Simak
Shared Description


TG3203 : Meadow north of The Beck by Evelyn Simak
The circular walk leads along the northern bank of The Beck, which traverses the Hellington and Rockland St Mary Community Reserve.
by Evelyn Simak
Shared Description


KML

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