The next GAGB Roving Event will be held on Saturday July 23rd
15:00 to 17:00 in the Marshes Hub Tea Stop, at the Avalon Marshes Centre. Savoury snacks, pastries, cakes, ice cream and hot and cold drinks are available. Hosted by the SW GAGB Reps outside on the grass area, look out for the GAGB logo (GC9W1H9
). There is some inside space if the weather is inclement.
Shapwick Heath wetland reserve covers over 500 hectares at the heart of the Somerset Levels and Moors. Habitats include lush green wildflower meadows; still, dark ditches; damp, secretive fens, shady, wet fern woods and open water, fringed with rustling reed beds. Until around 4,500 BC, the sea covered Shapwick Heath. When it gradually began to retreat, reed beds, followed by a mixture of sedge and fen woodlands, colonised the drying marshes. Then, as the old vegetation died and decayed, thick seams of peat were formed. The Romans were the first to harvest peat to burn as fuel. Between April and September, when the ground was at its driest, men would cut the peat by hand, while women and children would stack the turfs to dry, before loading them onto carts or flat-bottomed boats. The peat was cut this way for hundreds of years until the 1940s, when coal became more popular. In the 1960s, peat was removed by huge machines for horticultural use, but this stopped in the 1990s. Today, these former peat pits have been transformed into a landscape of open lakes, reed beds, fens and wet woodland, and have become a hugely important area for nature conservation. The sheer size and richness of habitats at Shapwick Heath make it a fantastic place to visit at any time of year whether geocaching or otherwise!
Around 6,000 years ago, Neolithic people lived on the higher, dry ground around the heath, and built wooden trackways to cross the wetlands. Large parts of the Neolithic ‘Sweet Track’, the oldest man-made routeway in Britain, still exist on the reserve, preserved beneath the wet peat. This remarkable timber track was built around 3,806 BC to cross 2km (1.2 miles) of reed swamp that separated Meare Island from the Polden Hills.
The location for this event is the Marshes Hub Tea Stop, at the Avalon Marshes Centre. Savoury snacks, pastries, cakes, ice cream and hot and cold drinks are available. Meeting outside on the grass area, look out for the GAGB logo. There is some inside space if the weather is inclement.
There will be a quiz featuring history and the local wildlife, with prizes.