Clearwell Meend is a portion of land above the village of Clearwell and behind Clearwell Caves.
Meend is an odd word and I have not found an origin for it but it seems to equate with Common.
This area is quite mixed. it has open regions with grassland and bracken, scrub, trees/wooded parts and some shallow ponds.
There are good views across towards Wales on a clear day. It has an ancient standing stone although I think it is actually a replacement for a standing stone which was there some time ago but got vandalised by Christians who did not like the pagan connotations, anyway that’s another story.
Just behind the standing stone and up the hill, if you look carefully, there is hidden in the developing woodland the remnants of some mine workings. The whole area is above the Clearwell Cave complex so will be riddled with excavations. There is also evidence of surface excavations.
There are some shallow ponds which in January are full and one I know, does seem to retain water for most if not all the year.
They do support various aquatic plants like this Lesser Spearwort.
Near the top of the area close to the Coleford/Lydney road there is a splendid old Willow tree, one of the most impressive I have ever seen. It is difficult to estimate age as Willow is quite fast growing. This one looks as if it was originally pollarded and then grow on and subsequently the large branches were then individually pollarded again perhaps about 50 years ago. I would guess this tree is around 200 years old.( I looked up ancient willows on google and found a reference to one in Scotland where a willow post was put into the ground in Carnoustie in 1797 and is still alive, so that makes it 219 years old.)
In terms of fauna and flora, I did not see much on this visit, the area is within the region officially designated as the Forest of Dean, but is not really connected to the main region.
However the distance from the main area is quite small and so wildlife could easily travel into and out of the area. There was evidence of wild boar having visited not long ago. They are a mixed blessing because the grassland are does support some rare chalk loving plants and boar rummaging about could do a lot of damage to the vulnerable populations.
There were some interesting fungi growing on old Elder branches, they are now known simply as Ear fungi, though when I was younger they were called Jew’s Ear Fungus, I could never work out why, I presumed the ear of a Jew was quite similar to a non Jew, so why the name? Anyway we are now more P.C.
So this is my very local patch, I live two minutes walk away and have decided that I should spend more time there and less time driving off to more ‘exciting’ places that are probably not more exciting just greener because they are on the other side of the fence. I have been there quite a few times before, this was not my first visit. On previous visits I have seen Stemless thistles, Autumn Gentians, Ploughman’s Spikenard, Ladies Bedstraw and various other Calcicoles. In terms of fauna I have seen Common Lizard, Common Toad, Bullfinch, Goldfinch and Chaffinch, Longtailed tits and other tits, Buzzards, Kestrel and Sparrowhawk, Reed Bunting and Yellowhammer and others so it’s not bad and with more regular visits I could notch up some more exciting ticks.