Banburyshire Rambles Photo-Journal

Paul Mobbs’ photographic record of his walks around ‘Banburyshire’ and ‘The Irondowns’, and occasionally, as part of his work around Britain, the areas beyond.

‘Last Chance (HS)To See’ – Scene 43:

‘River Leam Crossing’

Taking in the ‘block in the landscape’ where HS2 crosses the Leam on a high viaduct and embankment

17th February 2019

The River Leam trickles over stones where the ford once took this path through the river, into the woody scrub and the remains of the mill beyond – though today the noise of the water is difficult to hear over the stiff wind whistling through the bare branches and the iron latticework of the old footbridge.

Crossing the river I’d hoped for another otterwell, you can’t be lucky all the time – especially when dog-walkers are shouting at their little darking to get out of the river.

I pause in the scrub for a break out of the wind; taking the opportunity to change my outer layer before the hill-climb and take a drink. It’s a lovely peaceful location, for now.

Amongst the white-tipped survey stakes there's a lot of tree-planting going on; albeit they look dead and shrivelled.

A couple, who had just walked down from the woods above, asked for directions back into Hunningham. I showed them my map, which confused them as it had HS2’s route shaded across it. When I told them what the shading was, they couldn’t believe that what they had just walked around and enjoyed was about to be destroyed.

That’s the issue here. Our media talk so little about the impacts of major infrastructure development at the best of times – and rarely exploring the down-side or the alternative options. For that reason there can be no ‘informed consent’ for projects such as this.

Fed and watered I cross the little bridge over the mill leat and plod on up the hill. More dead tree planting. But whether it is landscaped or not, I don’t think most people have the first clue as to what’s coming here soon. Both during construction, and then (assuming it’s ever finished) use.