It’s happened again – the powers that be seem intent on salami-slicing our estate into so many long thin strips. Thirty years ago the A42 was built to the east of the Nottingham – Birmingham road and trapped a long sliver of our farm and woodland in between. Now the proposed route of the HS2 railway has been published, and it slices straight through our Coleorton land from top to bottom.

With the A42 they surveyed three options, two of which passed through our land. I suspect the HS2 will have latitude; if you’re going to send a train hurtling across the countryside at more than two hundred miles per hour you will have to iron out the humps and bumps and curves. This line will not be constructed for many years, and the route published on 28th January 2013 is for consultation purposes but I cannot ignore the likelihood of it eventually being built. It will not affect us down here at Staunton Harold but it will be harder to manage our land. Can it bring us any benefits? In Victorian England the major landowners on a proposed railway line demanded a stopping place so that they could board the train; not much chance of that I suspect.

Planting and tending trees has been a large part of my life here at Staunton Harold. With time spans of eighty to a hundred years you need to believe they have a reasonable chance of survival. Not easy where a railway line is in prospect but here in our quiet Staunton valley we keep adding to the numbers. This winter we are putting more specimen trees on the grassy parkland opposite the Hall. One, a Cedar of Lebanon, is being planted by a couple near the spot where they became engaged. That is a more optimistic note on which to end this bulletin.