Today (Wednesday 1st April) we turned right out of our cottage and up the hill to Clearwell Meend. I had not heard of a Meend before we moved to this area, but there are several dotted about both here in Gloucestershire and some across the river Wye in Monmouthshire. The derivation of the word is a bit obscure but it equates to an area of land that is like common land in other regions, though whether there are common rights to it or not I am not sure.
I looked the word up and one explanation I found is this.
Meend is derived from Old Welsh ‘minid’, meaning mountain’, and was rendered as munede during the medieval period, eventually occurring as meend through a variety of post-medieval forms such as myne and meene.
It has cognate forms along the Welsh Marches and in Wales as Mynydd.
It came to be used to deﬁne an area of open space, often associated with the royal forest.
It is a small area triangular in shape above the village of Clearwell and across from another village called Sling. I understand from the son of a previous resident of our cottage that in days gone by the youth of the two villages would often engage in battles on the Meend, using stones and clods of earth as weapons. Obviously the Sling boys had the advantage of the higher ground. However as I understand it the former occupants of our cottage were a family by the name of Baker and the family was made up of about 10 boys and just one girl, plus Mum and Dad, and the Baker boys as they were known were a pretty tough bunch and not to be messed with. So that probably evened things up a bit. Hey they knew how to make their own entertainment back then.
Another bit of local history which I learnt from a Forest of Dean character called Frank was that as a boy he and others would toboggan down a road called the Rocks on old tea trays when it was snowy. The Rocks is one of the roads which forms the boundary to Clearwell Meend and is very steep and narrow, getting steeper and steeper as you go down and finally ending where it joins the main road into the village and opposite is a wall. I presume this was how they stopped and back in those days there would have been less traffic, but still some.
On our walk, which by necessity was a bit zigzag in order to spin it out for a full hour we saw several wild flowers. First of all I saw some Perriwinkle, there are two species Greater and Lesser but they are very similar, the one defining feature is that Greater has tiny little hairs on the edges of the leaves and the stalk, you can just see them in my photograph.
There was a nice patch of Lungwort growing beside a wall on the previously mentioned Rocks, probably an escape from the garden on the other side of the wall but I did look and could not spot any growing there. A bit further up were a couple of Toothwort plants which are normally a pinkish white colour but this one lacked the pink and was almost pure white.
We saw lots of Primroses but also a nice patch of Cowslips which my Mum called Peggles. This was on the edge of the upper car park for Clearwell caves which has its entrance and cafe in the Meend area, closed of course at the moment.
Well that is enough for now further visits will inevitably be made as there are only a few routes available to us.
Other posts about Clearwell Meend…. click on the Blue link to see them.