The English Countryside

This panorama is taken from the dried up bed of the disused Somerset Coal Canal which was constructed in1794 to transport coal from the Somerset coal mines to the River Avon in Bath. It was one of the most profitable routes in the country carrying 100,000 tons of coal a year in the 1820s. It was superceded by the railways and closed in the early 20th Century. Much of it was drained for safety reasons and, over the decades has become a haven for a wide variety of grasses and flowers.

To the north-west is an Elder, a common hedgerow tree. Its name comes from an Anglo-Saxon word meaning 'hollow tree' because its pith is easily hollowed out to make peashooters and whistles. The old stems provide a hard, white wood which was used for carving articles like combes. The white flowers are used to make elder tea and cordial. The black berries can be made into a distinctive wine and are also used in jellies. Elders are the only trees which rabbits find distasteful.

The stinging nettle is a plant best avoided and a rare photographic subject but historically it was a useful resource for the poor. It was used to make nettle beer, could be boiled and eaten as a vegetable. The dried leaves were, and still are, used for making nettle tea and before cotton was imported, the fibres in the stem were spun and made into cloth.

Copyright: John Willetts Arps
Type: Spherical
Resolution: 7160x3580
Taken: 21/08/2012
Uploaded: 21/08/2012
Updated: 09/07/2014


Tags: england; summer; somerset; field; meadow; coal; canal; history; nature; elder; elderflower; hedgerow; nettle
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