by Jane Lyons
I love looking at the names of places on the Brighton and Hove OS map. Big Bottom, Dencher Bottom, Moon's Bottom, Ewe Bottom, Home Bottom, enough Bottoms to make any group of school children giggle. Out on foot in our Downland Estate, these Bottoms become steep-sided valley bottoms where, depending on the time of year, I might find Rampion, Orchids, and Waxcap Mushrooms. They're areas of Open Access Land, so places I can wander in, dawdling and looking, savouring being out and about in our beautiful Downland landscape. I can slow down and get to know the land here.
Not all of our Downland Estate is accessible for wandering because, surprisingly, most of it isn't designated Open Access land. In most places I have to stick to narrow footpaths and bridleways because that's all I'm allowed to do. That's great if I want a walk, and we are lucky to have such a good network across our Downland Estate, but they don't have the same feel as the Open Access land and they don't offer me the same things. They're routeways, they take me from one place to another. Open access land is a place in itself. Let's have more of it.