Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Campaign to Protect Rural England

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Featuring the Langdyke Countryside Trust

Tuesday, 24 November 2020 10:21

John Clare John Clare


Historic poet inspires nature recovery project in 'John Clare country'


Most of us will have heard of 'Hardy country' or 'Wordsworth country', but are you familiar with the concept of 'Clare country’?

If you live near Peterborough it may be news to you that one of the area's most famous sons was John Clare, an inspirational 19th Century poet of the natural world.




View of Swaddywell Pit by Brian Lawrence - Clare ‘s affection for ‘Swordy Well’ is in his verse.

View of Swaddywell Pit by Brian Lawrence . Clare ‘s affection for ‘Swordy Well’ is in his verse.

His poems still resonate today and are inspiring this major project to 'double nature' by increasing the breadth and depth of woodlands, grasslands, wetlands, meadows and heaths in our county from the current 8.5 % up to 17%. It calls for collaboration between local authorities, housing developers, land owners, farmers, community groups and the Langdyke Countryside Trust, whose volunteers already roll up their sleeves to manage seven nature reserves in the heart of John Clare country between Helpston, Bainton and Etton.

The project has an ambitious set of goals focused on increasing the amount of natural green space available to visitors; championing best practice in land management; helping flora and fauna to flourish, and boosting the number of green jobs in agriculture, tourism and conservation.

"It's a delicate balancing act, but with the countryside and wildlife increasingly under threat from development and the challenges of climate change, flood risk and soil degradation from intensive farming, the action we need to take now to preserve the natural world cherished by John Clare has never been so urgent," said Richard Astle, Chair of the Langdyke Countryside Trust.

With this in mind, the ambitious project offers an exciting vista of a future the poet would have welcomed:

  • Outstanding natural biodiversity through major habitat restoration connected through a mosaic of smaller wildlife havens and corridors
  • An unspoilt landscape that is used by local people and the people of an expanding Peterborough, providing them with a large area of unspoilt countryside on their doorstep
  • Well-kept heritage sites, accessible to all and working together to involve and attract visitors
  • Cyclepaths, footways and ‘quiet roads’ – a green transport infrastructure – where priority is given to walkers and riders
  • Prosperous and successful farming, profiting from a combination of environmentally friendly farming practice, sustainable tourism and recreational activities.


Orchids growing at Swaddywell photographed by Sarah Lambert

The aim is that this nature recovery area would be recognised by Natural England and other statutory agencies and recognised in local policy documents including Local Plans.

It would be distinguished from other nature recovery areas because it is community led and because of how it combines the natural and built heritage and its links, through John Clare, to literature and the arts.

LangdykeFor more information or to get involved click the link

Author: Lorna Watkins

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