Last Thursday’s trip to the beautiful Cotswold countryside was a collaboration between our Appraising Landscapes and Sustainable Technology 1 modules. Following a section of the Cotswold Way, our First Year students were introduced to the methods of appraising the character of a landscape, and considering it from both a technical and a more artistic, poetic perspective. We explored the “natural” appearance of the vegetation character of the landscape typologies traversed, investigating how man’s intervention is an ever present aspect in moulding and manipulating our perception of what comprises a beautiful landscape “view”.
Bob Moore guided us to Wistley Hill, a site he is especially attached to. Standing amidst this most beautiful part of the Cotswold landscape, he read aloud the words of our Landscape Course founders, Bodfan Gruffydd:
“The natural beauty or scenic quality of landscape refers principally to the visual ambience created by the shape, form, texture and colours of the various components making up the landscape. These aesthetic factors to a large extent are determined by topography and vegetation and it is essential in any analysis or evaluation to register their coherence in the determination of landscape character. This is the quality which makes visual sense and has logical integrity. It is therefore doubly important to recognise and respect topographical features together with ecological relationships on any site being considered for protection or designed change.”
Bodfan Gruffydd Landscape Issues (volume 10, 1993)
We were later guided by Paul Arnold, a volunteer from the Woodland Trust, to Lineover Wood, a SSSI renowned for its rare large leafed limes and 500 species of fungi. This 50 hectare ancient woodland also boasts a lime stool believed to be at least 1000 years old and what is thought to be the third largest beach tree in England. If you’re searching for character, then this landscape is the one to visit!
Next week, Bob and I will join forces again to trace the river Chelt as it meanders through Cheltenham, stopping to explore a series of urban landscapes along its route.