This photograph looks from the margin of Urswick Tarn in a southerly direction to Holme Bank Farm in the distant right and to Holme Bank Wood on the left. Taken in 2010, this scene presents what is now regarded as the rural norm for this locality, but photographs from around 1900 show that, in fact, the immediate foreground was then part of the extensive reed beds of Phragmites australis which formerly surrounded Urswick Tarn.  Memory further recalls the time when the wood ascending the hill was both more densely populated with trees and covered a larger area.  A significant felling operation around 1950 reduced the tree cover to more or less its current level, although aging, decay and windfall have continued to outpace the emergence of sapling replacements, which without the protection of localised fencing fall victim to foraging livestock and to livestock seeking a scratching post to relieve an itch.  Such a situation teaches that the tree population that we see across rural Britain in modern times results from programmes of deliberate planting and subsequent care by our forebears; a deficit in both of which has now prevailed for so long that an increasingly bland and austere countryside will present to future generations, potentially alongside their dismay at our generation's lack of care to reverse the tragic loss.

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