Roxbourne Rough is one of the places mentioned in the BBC guide ‘Breathing Places’; and that is what it is, a small space of green and peace amidst the suburbia of north west London. I have just spent a cold November morning there cutting back brambles and scrub to encourage fresh meadow growth in the Spring. I am a member of the Harrow Nature Conservation Forum which has several sites in the area. Because Roxbourne Rough is close to our house at West Harrow, working there feels integral to our local area and community.
Roxbourne Rough is a series of grassy meadows covering about 13 acres in an area of predominantly London clay. It is definitely a gum-boot area at this time of the year! The meadow is surrounded by woodland which includes oak, blackthorn, hawthorn and, in its wetter parts, willow. The Rough is also home to black poplars which I am told are something of a rarity; they sound and look beautiful in the wind. The Rough also includes a pond which has just been deepened to encourage frogs and newts and other water life. Some wetland meadow habit is also being nurtured and restored.
In the Spring and Summer the meadows are adrift with wild flowers. Today, with a sharp north wind blowing, although many of the taller trees had lost their leaves, those of the hedgerow were an array of wonderful autumn colours: russets, yellows and deep red.
Places to walk and places ‘to be’ are of increasing importance in the London area. People need a space to get in touch with nature, to stroll unfettered by traffic and in a landscape which, though managed, is as near to natural as possible.
Not far from Roxbourne Rough another environmental project is underway in an area of Harrow which has been beleaguered by social deprivation. As part of the rejuvenation of this locality a previously aborted environmental project is being revived. Several of us from my local church and the Roxbourne project are getting involved. Getting dug-in.