Chalk grasslands cleared and ready for Spring

6th March

Fackenden Down is spring cleaned; a herd of red Dexter cattle has been in over winter. This native breed from south west Ireland is often used to manage chalk grasslands, especially to clear invading tor grass. Being small with short legs that give a comical appearance, they tend not to poach the turf. Scrub that constantly spreads into the grassland has also been cleared and burnt by volunteer work parties.

Fackenden Down

On a bright March evening after weeks of rain, the downland slope is quiet apart from a pair of buzzards that perch in the boundary trees at the top of the ridge; the pair stay close together, mew noisily, fly and settle again. They must have a nest nearby, perhaps in one of the great oaks that edge the pastures below, that they will now be rebuilding.

The neat circles of burnt ash tell of warming bonfires of great piles of brash. Around them today, primroses flower and dog’s mercury edges the shade.

The evening light is clear and golden; the low sun lights up the flooded water meadows in the Darenth valley and quickly drops over the hills as the moon rises.

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