For different reasons at the time, 2019 started with the hope of new beginnings for us both.
Our lives were about to collide and send us in the direction of looking for an undeveloped, natural plot of land to call our own. Admittedly, at first, our reasons for this search were quite selfish,
we simply wanted somewhere 'private' where we could reconnect with the world, and de-stress away from our home and work lives.
Our land hunt began as most do with hours spent on the internet trawling through property and auction sites. Eventually, patience and persistence paid off when we were fortunate enough to acquire this land in Willington. We could immediately see the scope for a land management project that would not only satisfy our meditative needs but would also benefit the local community and the longer-term environmental needs of the area.
We purchased approximately 3.5 acres of woodland and meadow on a 5.5 acre site,
in the Bedfordshire village of Willington https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Willington,_Bedfordshire
The land itself has been associated with an historic Danish encampment, then later it was part of a larger agricultural estate through which (later still) the Bedford to Cambridge rail link once ran.
In the mid 20th century, as the rail line fell into decline, the land was excavated for gravel
and sand, before being roughly filled in and once again used for casual agriculture.
In the last few decades, it was purchased by a developer who, after a series of unsuccessful stand-offs, was defeated in several attempts to gain planning permission. Throughout this latter period, the land largely fell into a decline, being allowed to mainly return to untamed, unmanaged natural growth. Hawthorn and Goat Willow came to monopolise the woodland areas, with a sprinkling of Oak and Silver Birch standing strong in contrast to the twisted and broken 'dominant' species (oddly analogous of the battle between the developer and the village).
And so from a varied past, there is now Stackmoor...
As some of our lovely neighbours are aware, my friend Dawn passed away in late May.
Covid-19 had already disrupted the work we had planned in the first part of the year
- we lived in different households, each with our own family commitments, so could only work together while socially distanced - but we were adapting to this.
Stackmoor still lives on as personal meditative and environmental development project, which I will endeavour to pursue with the same, energy, scope and imagination that Dawn brought to the adventure.