We bought the last of the farms and woodland on the Coleorton Estate from Sir George Beamont in 1966. It had been his family seat for five hundred years, though they’d sold the hall and moved away forty years earlier. The land adjoined our Staunton Harold property, only separated by the A453 Nottingham – Birmingham road.
It was a wide bowl of land, more wood than farm, with tall oaks and herds of fallow deer. Special, you might say, but seemingly not special enough. When the Highway Authority decided that they needed a new route across the region three alternatives were considered, and all three crossed this land. Then the Coal Authority said they intended to work the whole area for opencast coal to avoid, they said, sterilising the coal under the new motorway. The coal was mined, the highway built, trapping sixty acres between the new and old roads.
It is thirty years now since the land was restored, the fields laid out, the trees planted. Locals walk their dogs on the paths we’ve made, and the trees are high above our heads. We expected years of quiet enjoyment, but it is not to be. HS2, the high speed rail link between London and the northern cities, is set to carve another swathe across the valley. The plans are out, though not finalised. Another sixty acres will be trapped between rail and road, and a hundred acres is coloured pink for potential use during construction. When will it end? There is still much left to enjoy but we seem fated; in fifty years we have seen more upheaval than the Beaumonts in their five hundred.