Wednesday, 19 June 2019

Guest blog from Emma - Varncombe Bank

Varncombe Bank is at first glance less of a field, more of a fenced-off bit of scrap land. Seen from the road (mind the bend) it really doesn’t look up to much. Exposed to the wind, a bit gorsey, its most striking feature from a distance is the very smart stock-netting fence separating it from the imaginatively-named Under Varncombe Bank.

Look more closely (seriously, mind the bend) and you might see livestock on it. At various points in the year, sheep, cows and even horses have grazed the bank.  Although the cattle looked a bit unimpressed to be honest, our friends Steve and Lisa, whose two lovely cobs graze the bank over winter, have said that the pair are positively plump after a winter’s strip grazing.

This is conservation grazing at its best. Coupled with targeted scrub bashing of invasive species such as thorn and gorse, and a bit of tree removal to open up spaces for the sun to get in, the change in the bank has been wonderful to see. We’re so grateful to the volunteers who helped. (The Green Gym even showed up how we should be warming up before getting stuck in.)

Orchids now spill across the slope, birdsong’s everywhere, delicate local plant species are flourishing and a little bit of native downland – so precious it’s referred to as our rainforest – is now definitely more than a bit of scrap land.

Emma Kemp, June 2019


  1. Thank you Emma. I love your effortless writing. It transports me across the ocean (mind the Faroe Islands). Can I have some more please?