Neglected hedgerow, Rye Banks

Two days ago I posted a photo of a farmer flaying a hedge, giving it a trim using a large lawnmower on an arm on a tractor. If this winter task is neglected the hedging plants, blackthorn or hawthorn, grow tall and spindly, losing their lower branches. Eventually weaker plants die off and a few trees dominate. The result is a lonely row of trees, a not uncommon sight in the countryside. In Northamptonshire, a hedge that has been neglected this way is called a bullfinch.

Hedges are not necessarily bushes or trees. In Essex a hedgerow can be a narrow wood and in Cornwall the term hedge often refers to an earth and stone bank but which is sometimes happens to be topped with bushes.

Very old hedges also show another characteristic which is noticeable when it has been neglected. A bank of earth builds up at the base of the hedge. In Cumbria this is known as a cop or kess. If the land has been under plough there is a gradual movement of soil downhill with each ploughing forming a lynchet. Even if the land has not been ploughed, on steep ground there is still a tendency for soil to build up at hedge bottoms (or walls for that matter) under gravity and rain run off.

This particular old hedge is at Rye Banks on the lower slopes of Roseberry Topping.

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