Marsh Common, in Weston near Welford, has undergone a considerable transformation since the Parish Council voted to take on its maintenance in November 2020.
Work has been carried out in order to preserve this special place and to facilitate public access. Wet woodland habitat such as this is increasingly rare nowadays and provides an important home to an array of wildlife.
Paul St Pierre of the Environment Agency explains; "In addition to creating and supporting the River Lambourn itself, the springs which feed the river along its length also create important wetlands adjacent to the river. These wetlands are generally labelled as 'fen/swamp' or as 'wet woodland'.
"Depending on the strength of the spring, these wetlands can be seasonal or permanent, most commonly they just fluctuate in extent and degree of wetness. The wetlands within the valley bottom support a wide range of plant and animal species, including amphibians and reptiles, a multitude of rare and sensitive invertebrates, and many grasses, wildflowers and fungi.
"One particular species which occupies these calcareous wetlands is Desmoulins Whorl Snail (Vertigo moulinisana). This species is often locally called the 'Newbury Bypass Snail' as it was the protected species which held up the construction of the A34. Desmoulins are a very small species with a max shell size of about 2.5mm.
"These wetlands are so important that many are also designated as separate SSSI's and SACs within the valley. The wetlands play an important role in supporting the river ecology - for example, many of the juvenile fish species will take refuge in these areas, especially during high flows. As well as ecological value these wetlands play an important role in storing water during high flows, reducing flood risk downstream, and also store significant quantities of carbon - restoring healthy wetlands is a key objective of the UK's approach to tackling climate change.
"Marsh Common at Weston is an excellent mosaic of deep and shallow pools, with an extensive population of swamp and fen plant species such as the impressive Greater Tussock Sedge. There are stands of willow scrub, which are very attractive to many of our migrant and resident warbler species such as willow warblers, white throats and black caps. It is also perfect habitat for the rare and declining nightingale. The pools will attract many species of amphibians - frogs, toads and newts - in the spring - with the surrounding scrub and wetland plants providing excellent habitat for foraging adults as they emerge from the pools. The extensive pasture, hedgerows, and areas of scrub along the Lambourn Valley will support many small mammals, which in turn will attract owls. It's a very beautiful and sensitive area of habitat within the Lambourn Valley."
Unfortunately, over time this important habitat and area of Open Access Land had become rundown, partially blockaded and evidently used as a place to dump and burn waste. When this was brought to the attention of the Parish Council in 2020, it was decided the council would carry out cleanup and maintenance works to facilitate public access. The vital importance of access to open space could not have been more clearly highlighted than it has during the recent pandemic, so this made restoring the common a priority for the Parish Council.
While clearing the common metal sheeting, old bricks, burn pits, mattress springs and various other discarded items were uncovered. Several trailer loads of detritus were removed by Councillors and volunteers.
Apparent evidence of a recent party/festival was also found, including signs proclaiming "No Trespassers" and "No Picnic Area". It is important to note that the public are indeed entitled to access the common, as it is Open Access Land, where 'right to roam' applies, and therefore the perfect place for a picnic (as long as litter is not left behind).
Since clearing the common, and with the installation of a new sign and footbridge, the area has been given a new lease of life, at the heart of our parish, as an important and cherished open space for everyone.
The Parish Council would like to thank parishioners, the Environment Agency and West Berkshire Council for the crucial help and support we have received during this endeavour.
The common is accessible via the footpath which heads north from Weston Mill (WELF/27/1), via the five bar wooden gate on the Lambourn Road. Alternatively, it can be accessed via the footpath heading east from Elton (WELF/16/2).
Please note barbeques and fires are not permitted and dogs must be kept on a lead of no more than 2 metres long to protect ground-nesting birds.
28/3/2022 - A news update about the wildlife on Marsh Common can be found here: Wildlife on Marsh Common
The following notification has been received from Highways England
M4 Junctions 13 to 14 Wickham – Bridge Repairs
We’ll shortly be carrying out essential repairs to the bridge which carries the M4 over Welford Road (near Wickham, West Berkshire). During our inspections we have found that water is leaking through to the bridge joints and this needs to be repaired.
To ensure the bridge remains in a safe condition, work will include:
This work is currently scheduled to start on 14 May 2021 and is expected to be completed by the end of October 2021.
For the safety of our workforce and customers, the following traffic management restrictions will be in place on both the M4 eastbound and westbound, and on Welford Road beneath the bridge:
Whilst we are replacing the central reservation of the M4 above, we will close Welford Road from Monday 12 July through to Saturday 18 September 2021. A diversion will be in place via Welford Road, Rood Hill, High Street and the B4000.
Access will be maintained for pedestrians and cyclists, and for emergency services.
From Friday 14 May 2021 for up-to five weeks, there will be a 24/7 closure of the hard shoulder on both carriageways and overnight lane closures.
Then from Monday 21 June 2021 for up-to 12 weeks, 24/7 narrow lanes and an enforceable 50mph speed limit will be in place on both the westbound and eastbound carriageways. Free vehicle recovery will be available for anyone who breaks down in the narrow lanes.
Once the central reservation has been replaced, the narrow lanes will be removed, and the remaining activities will be done using full weekend closures of the M4 eastbound and westbound carriageways.
M4 weekend closures
To replace the central reservation, a large crane will be required, and we will need to close the entire motorway for the full weekend. A further weekend closure of the M4 will be required to replace the waterproofing material and surfacing. This is to allow enough time for the material to cure.
These weekend closures will be between junctions 13 and 14. The dates of the weekend closures are currently planned as follows:
During these closures, signed diversions will be in place via the A338, A4 and A34.
All our work is weather dependent, particularly when using a large crane. We’ll advertise the closures on yellow signs placed in advance alongside the road, via the media and on our South-East Twitter feed @HighwaysSEAST.
We would like to apologise in advance for any inconvenience or disruption you may experience during this work.
If you have any questions, or if you would like to know about our work, please contact us on 0300 123 5000 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Alternatively, please visit www.highwaysengland.co.uk/our-work/south-east/south-east-maintenance-schemes/
Join Welford Park - Walk for Parkinson’s UK or take part virtually - the choice is yours!
You can now sign up to Welford Park Walk for Parkinson’s on Sunday 4 July to help fund vital support for people affected by the condition, or if you would like to volunteer at this event please contact us too.
Charity Parkinson’s UK has launched its annual Walk for Parkinson’s series, which was cancelled in 2020 due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. This year, there are three ways to take part:
Organised walks taking place include Welford Park in Newbury on Sunday 4 July. The walks will comply with local coronavirus (COVID-19) guidance.
This year, there will also be two virtual walking challenges: Walk for Parkinson’s 66 mile challenge and Walk for Parkinson’s Your Way.
If you know 66 people, you know one person living with Parkinson’s. So why not take on Walk for Parkinson’s 66 by walking 66 miles throughout July? How you want to complete this challenge is up to you. Whether it’s alone or socially distanced, all you have to do is reach the target of 66 miles by the end of the month.
With Walk for Parkinson’s Your Way, you choose your own course, when you do it and who you walk with over the weekend of 25 and 26 September. Participants can choose from two distances - 2 or 6 miles - depending on what suits you best.
To take part in Walk for Parkinson’s, visit: www.parkinsons.org.uk/get-involved/walk-parkinsons or www.events.parkinsons.org.uk/walkwelfordpark
Or call 0800 138 6593 or email email@example.com
West Berkshire Council is responsible for around 740 miles of public footpaths, bridleways, restricted byways and byways. There are public rights of way across the whole of West Berkshire, in both urban and rural areas. These form an important network for enjoying and exploring the countryside and travelling to work or school, as well as supporting tourism and good health. They provide hundreds of miles of free routes on which people can walk, cycle, ride horses or use other means of travel.
Our rights of way improvement plan helps us to make sure the public rights of way network meets the needs of the public, now and in the future. Our current Rights of Way Improvement Plan (ROWIP) was adopted on the 27 May 2010 and it now needs updating.
Speaking about the work Councillor Richard Somner, Executive Member for Transport and Countryside, said:
"Many people have used public rights of way more during the pandemic, or have discovered them for the first time. Accessing the countryside and West Berkshire's network of paths has been very important to people for their health and mental wellbeing. We want to better understand the value of the public rights of way network to those who currently use them as well as how we might other residents to discover and make use of them."
The rights of way service is also using the process of reviewing its ROWIP to understand the needs of residents of West Berkshire more fully. It will use the opportunity to make sure the ROWIP addresses the priorities of the area in terms of health and wellbeing, supporting people living with disabilities and mental health issues, regeneration, growth, transport, climate change, tourism and other priorities.
To make sure the new ROWIP reflects the needs of West Berkshire's residents, we'd like to know about your experience of using our public rights of way, and how important the network is to your health and wellbeing. We also want to know if you've encountered any problems using the PROW's, and whether your concerns were addressed.
An online survey has been set to gather people's views - take part before 30 May 2021.
A public right of way is a path that anyone has the legal right to walk on. Some public rights of way can also be used by cyclists, horse riders or motorists. You can use:
Keeping you up to date with Parish news and events. If you have an event or news item you would like to share please email the Parish Clerk