Rampisham Down Factcheck #4: A Fairy Tale.

Here’s a quick fairy tale for Monday Morning.

Once Upon a Time, Nature was in trouble in the Kingdom, and the King sent for the wise men to tell him what needed to be done to save Nature.  The wise men talked together and one came forward, called Lawton, Professor Lawton. The King agreed that Lawton should write a book, about all the things that needed to be done to save Nature in Kingdom. They worked tirelessly night and day for a year, and when they had finished they presented the beautiful book, to the King. “What a Wonderful Book!” said the King, “I shall call it the Lawton Report” and all his courtiers nodded and agreed, that the book was wonderful and would help save Nature in the Kingdom.And so the Lawton Book became revered through the land.

But then the King died, and a cruel Prince took the throne. He said “I am the Greenest Prince there ever was, and I Love Nature”, but in truth he plotted with the barons to steal from Nature, kill the animals and spread dark magic through the land. The Prince hated to even look at the Lawton Book and it was banished from the land. The Lawton book was thrust into a locked chest, in a remote castle and forgotten about. But some people remembered what the Book said, and together, on dark nights, when there were no spies around, they would quietly chant

“Bigger, Better, More Connected; Bigger, Better, More Connected…”

they hoped that by chanting they would bring forward the Spirits of the Wood and the Meadow, the Spring and the Marsh; to stop the cruel Prince from destroying Nature.

Bigger, Better, More Connected

Rampisham Down is big, really big. It’s one of the largest surviving tracts of unimproved lowland acid grassland in England. And that makes it important, because bigger sites support a wider variety of habitats and species – including a number of rare species. But its size isn’t the only thing that’s particularly special about Rampisham, because Rampisham is located in an amazing, one might say unique, landscape in modern lowland England. It’s connected.

Rampisham Context Map SSSIs

This map is generated by MAGIC, the excellent Government website (yes I really did say that). It shows the effectively continuous band of SSSIs stretching from the A35 to the south, 10km north to the A357 Crewkerne road. This is a very large area where nature-rich habitats have survived the onslaught of modern farming to a far greater extent than any other lowland farmland landscape that I know of. There are chalk downlands, there are hay meadows and neutral pastures, there are rush-pastures and fen meadows, ancient woodlands, fens, wood pasture, ancient hedgerows, ponds, scraps of heathland and now, a large area of acid grassland. That is just the SSSIs.

Rampisham context map

This second map, also generated from MAGIC, shows the SSSIs plus all the additional areas of nature-rich habitat which are not designated, which are totally unprotected from harm, though many are County Wildlife Sites.

I’d like to put out a challenge to you, dear reader – find me another 10km square in lowland England with this much surviving nature-rich landscape, with such a diverse range of habitats.

I’m not promising to reward you with riches beyond your dreams though.








About Miles King

UK conservation professional, writing about nature, politics, life. All views are my own and not my employers. I don't write on behalf of anybody else.
This entry was posted in connectivity, Lawton Report, Rampisham Down and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to Rampisham Down Factcheck #4: A Fairy Tale.

  1. David Dunlop says:

    in the middle of the Kingdom,or mayhap in the far north of the Kingdom – for the unity of the crowns is in much dispute of late – there lieth the forgotten land of Arnside-Silverdale beside the Great Bay, or “More Cambe” as it was known in the tongue of the vanished faery people who are said by some to have once lived in that land. In these distant parts of the realm, far from the Royal Palace of the Western Minster, we must toil almost incessantly to earn our crust as we have only a Narrow-ish Band with which to summon forth the MAGIC map that see-eth all; but by the pricking of our thumbs we feel that this may also be a deca-square of wonders.

    • Miles King says:

      Brother Daevid, I have consulted the Magick, for the broadness of our band is good today.

      The More Cambe does indeed have many things full of nature. I spy through the Magick, places called the Leighton Moss, the Silver Dale, the Cringle Barrow and the Deep Dale, the Thrang End and the Arn Side Knott, and not forgetting the Gait Barrow where I have myself walked many moons ago.

      But my thoughts turn to geology. For the Arnside Silver Dale is, if I am not mistaken, a Karst landscape. Whereas the hidden land of Wessex of which I speak has many different rocks, sands, clays and other things, from which the bounteous variety of Nature springs forth.

      • David Dunlop says:

        Forsooth and ye doe have the right o’t, Brother Miles.

        I might venture the land of the Fir Menach (whic some spell Fermanagh) on the borders of this realm, where sandstone, limestone, bog and great lakes do mix; but I knoe not if the MAGICK is permitted by the Prince, or the late King before him, to view such landes as the natives are often troublesome and some of the Royal Gunners of the Ordnance do believe that ignoring them and not mapping their wildernesses will cause them to vanish away.

  2. Mud-Lark says:

    Might one be permitted to ask where is this Professor Lawton now? The silence as they say is almost deafening ….

  3. Mud-Lark says:

    Perhaps as a mere ‘base’ knight he chooseth not to risketh elevation by challenging the establishments favour ….

    Other goodly tomes followed and then there was a gathering of the greatest and the good of the conservation landsacpe when the title claimant champions of conservations published “State of Nature”.

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