In the mad dash that is the school run, I often park in an estate just in front of Moretonhampstead primary school and for a while now I’ve cast my eye on a patch of ground fenced off to the parents and students that walk past it.
Among the dense grass, a pond lies in an unloved state. Slowly silting up and the ‘Danger: risk of drowning signs’ a less than subtle reminder that something lurked in the undergrowth before the padlocks clicked shut on the gates. Occasionally the odd Dragonfly would shuttle its way past over the ground looking for a target and the remnants of a seating area grew out of the grass on a level part of the ground.
For a while I was looking and plotting and it just so happened that somebody else was too…
I had the primary school out on a visit to Wooston Hillfort and running a series of bug hunting activities for Years 1 and 2, when I got talking to Claire Hyne, who has been heavily involved in Fingle Woods, about the visit and the school. As we talked the pond cropped up in conversation and soon we were talking about resurrecting it for the students to use.
After chatting to Dave Rickwood and William Bentall, the Headteacher, about our plans, we mapped out a course for the pond and this winter saw the first part of our plan come to fruition. On a damp squib of a Saturday, with the help of Friends of Fingle and a few local residents, we started clearing back the vegetation in the pond and on an overgrown path that lead to the seating area. This spring we’ll return to remove any waste material and redefine a set of steps to the seating area for better access. It will be at this point that we’ll draw up the plans for a dipping platforms and bridge, all of which will be made from timber supplied and milled at Fingle.
Whilst working we learnt that until four or five years ago the pond used to be used regularly with the children frequently pond dipping to see what they could find but that after a while this stopped and the pond fell into disrepair. We hope to get the area clear and safe enough again for the pupils to enjoy once more. We will also look to enhance some of the surrounding area for pollinators all with the help now of parents and pupils.
By Fred Hutt, Fingle Woods Ranger