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This is Our Chosen Hill

My name is Adam and I am the rather tall guy who some of you will recognise as always walking up and down Pirton Lane and up Chosen Hill from the Churchdown side. I have lost count how many times strangers have said hello in the Pub and then asked how often I am walking up that road.

Actually, it’s a lot. And I don’t only talk to people in the Pub. In fact, it’s when I am walking that I talk to local people and visitors to the Hill the most.

What I’ve learned is that one of the things we share, whatever our backgrounds, whether we live in Churchdown or Hucclecote, whether we grew up in the Village, whether we went to one of the Schools or whether we are just visiting, is we all love Chosen Hill.

It’s a brilliant place. The scenery is magnificent. St Bartholomew’s Church is very special, and the wildlife is quite extraordinary given how close the Hill is to everyday life.

We all enjoy the Hill, whether we visit or climb it daily, weekly, monthly or once a year. But there are some that don’t think about it in the same way.

Sadly, the Hill has a lot of visitors who do not treat and respect it as the Community Asset that it truly is. For one reason or another, the Local Authorities are also not as responsive to the things that need to be done on their part to keep it a clean, tidy and safe place for us all to access as we believe it only reasonable that they should.

Together we want this to change.

After a conversation with other walkers and visitors who want to work together to draw attention to the problems, get things done and basically share all the good things about Chosen Hill that we all enjoy, I volunteered to set up a platform so that we can reach out, bring local people and visitors together and work with you all to pass on the word, share experiences, start a conversation and see what together we can get done.

The initial aims of Our Chosen Hill are:

  • To connect with as many of you who love, value and appreciate Chosen or Churchdown Hill and develop a wider community where working together, we can ensure that Our Chosen Hill is kept and maintained as a clean, tidy and safe place for us all to enjoy.
  • To secure the installation of more litter bins around all the points of access around the Hill and where the Council Cleansing Team can easily access them.
  • To actively discourage littering.
  • To secure the installation of more dog bins around the Hill.
  • To actively discourage dog fouling on all paths used by the public and in the fields where livestock openly graze.
  • To have all bins emptied at least 3 or 4 times per week in the Summer months and at least 2 times per week in the Winter months.
  • To prevent fly tipping.
  • To have the access road regularly and properly maintained.
  • To promote responsible, open access of the Hill and its adjoining farmland that always respects the wishes of landowners and the health and safety of their livestock.

Our Chosen Hill is now on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter – all @OurChosenHill and we have a Blog set up on WordPress at www.ourchosenhill.wordpress.com too.

Just following any or all of our Social Media Accounts or reading our Blog will be a great help to what we are doing, especially if you can share pictures, links etc.

Whatever you do, you will be helping and supporting our shared cause!

Please comment, share pictures, news and anything else you might want to about Chosen Hill or Churchdown Hill – whichever you know it to be called.

If you want to do more or support us in some way, please do not hesitate to get in touch.

The Well (or Mussel Well) on Chosen Hill

Although Our Chosen Hill has only been going for three weeks, we’ve already had a number questions about ‘The Well’ and it’s location from our community.

I must admit that of all the lovely spots and hidden gems that the Hill has to share, this is probably one of the most special. It is regrettable that the very positive changes to the paths and woodland that have taken place since I was a child have meant that this Spring is no longer as readily accessible to visitors as it previously was.

Some of you have kindly pointed us in the direction of the informative blog about The Mussel Well on the Hill which you can read if you click HERE.

As with a lot of the sites and things to see on Chosen Hill, the history is passed on by word of mouth rather than being documented, so please bear in mind that accuracy may vary and views and interpretation can change things!

Below is a short video showing you how to find the Well from the path which leads from the North (or back) of St. Bartholomew’s Church and heads out towards Tinkers Hill.

As kids, we knew the first part of this path as the Coffin Walk that climbs from the Lane on the Churchdown Village side, up the steps to the Church.

It then carries along the rear boundary of the Churchyard and then the Parish Burial Ground. Through the new Kissing Gate that The Woodland Trust has installed and then after about 100 yards goes right and down a slope with mud steps to a junction where you can turn left (and back on yourself) and head towards the Trig Point, Camels Humps and Stump Lane, or down the wet steps towards Devils Drop and Tinkers Hill.

This is the point where the video cuts in!

 

We would really like to share as much information and as many stories as possible about The Well. Please do not be afraid to share your stories or what you know about the history of ‘The Well’ in the Comments below!

A Tale of Two Graveyards

Let’s face it. As local areas go, we are quite spoilt when it comes to having hills around us.

One of the things that makes Chosen Hill so special to us all – apart from the fact that for many of us it provides the backdrop to where we live – is the wonderful iconic St. Bartholomew’s Church that sits on top and can be seen for many miles around.

On many occasions, I have found myself stood on that wonderful viewing area to the East and Northern sides of the Church, talking to complete strangers with whom I am sharing the view.

One of them once told me that he was a travelling sales rep who had looked up at St. Bartholomew’s many times as he passed on the M5 and thought that it was a place that he would someday like to find. This was the day that he had time to spare and he was not disappointed once he had found his way to where we were stood! I’ve had similar experiences since.

The sense of awe that the view inspires is usually accompanied by an appreciation of how well kept the Churchyard is.

Those of you who have visited other historic churches in the local area and further afield will appreciate how rare it is these days to experience a proper Churchyard that is regularly tended and looked after in the way that this one is.

What you may not have known is that there are two Graveyards on the Hill. There is the ‘Churchyard’ that is under The Church of St. Andrew and St. Bartholomew’s control. But there is also the adjacent Parish Burial Ground which is under the control of Churchdown Parish Council.

St. Bartholomew’s Churchyard is kept tidy and up together all-year round and the grass is cut every two weeks throughout the summer months by a team of grasscutters with a commitment that takes up a whole day at a time!

Sadly, the littering that is a problem in areas like the Car Park can also be a problem too, as can the discarding of spent fireworks after Bonfire Night and New Year’s Eve.

The Parish Burial Ground is looked after by different Contractors on a different timetable and that is why it can appear that the job has sometimes been left half done.

The reality however, is that all of us who share and use this place or have loved ones resting on the Hill are very fortunate that so much love, care and commitment is spent on this place!

Picture: Mark of MEK Services, taken in St. Bartholomew’s Churchyard, 24 June 2020

Would you like to help Our Chosen Hill?

We are barely a week in, but we already have loads of ideas of ways that we can work to achieve our shared aim of making Chosen Hill a clean, tidy and safe place for all to visit and enjoy.

What is clear now is there are two parts to what we are doing:

  1. Work to achieve the changes that we have identified and action ongoing need
  2. Promote Chosen Hill and the user experience, including things to do, history and relevant links with other organisations and groups with which we have shared or mutual aims.

There are lots of possibilities of thins that we can do. Whether any or all of them can be achieved will depend on who can help and contribute their time on a voluntary basis so that we can collectively get things done.

Ideas for Our Chosen Hill already include:

  • Campaigning and liaison with relevant organisations and bodies
  • Promoting other organisations who have shared interests with Our Chosen Hill
  • Provide information on the work of organisations on the Hill
  • Create a dedicated website which will provide a growing information source
  • Create maps for all the different walks around the Hill
  • Provide organised walks

And there are more coming!

We are limited by the time that volunteers have available and now we have some clearer ideas, it’s time to reach out and ask you guys if you or somebody you know would like to help us in a more active and hands-on way?

This is about skills and knowledge in the first instance. But there could be opportunities to learn as we go too. Right now, we need the following knowledge and experience:

  • Campaigning/Liaison
  • Illustration/Graphic Design
  • Website management
  • Social Media
  • Public speaking / facilitation / presenting

We also need a team of local walkers who know their way around a smartphone, can take some great pictures and are comfortable using social media too.

All of this is voluntary. We would like help from anyone who is committed to our objectives and can help us in these or other ways.

We are not political and what we are doing is about the benefits to our community – not the individuals involved.

We do not wish to get tied up in local or organsational politics at any level. Please do not get in touch if you are trying to promote something else and see #OurChosenHill as an easy way to do that, or if you are trying to raise your own public profile in some way.

If you are interested and can see a way that you could contribute positively in some way, please clock the link, and answer the questions on the online form. Someone will then be in touch once your completed form has been received.

If you have any questions about helping #OurChosenHill or have any problems with the links, please just drop us an e-mail on OurChosenHill@gmail.com

Thank you for reading and remember – following our accounts is the easiest way to help in every way!

Link to Questionnaire

Why following us is the best way to help #OurChosenHill get things done

Thank you for being here and reading this article right now. 

Getting as many other people who share our interest in Chosen Hill to do the same thing as you are will be a great help. We appreciate every single share!

Our posts have so far reached around 9,000 people since last Thursday. Numbers like that are very helpful for an online community aiming to influence local change for the better.

But what would be even better still, is if all of those people that we have reached click follow and like on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram too. *

That way visitors to our accounts – like those people who can make the decisions we need taken to improve things – can easily see what kind of support we are gaining from all of you. It really is the numbers that count.

Following means that you will always be aware of what we are doing in real time too.

Sharing is also a very big help, particularly when we are publicly asking questions as we have already been doing using Twitter. 

To help Our Chosen Hill achieve its aims for change, that’s pretty much you will ever need to do – unless you really want to do more.

Our Chosen Hill really is just about our objectives and sharing all the great things about the Hill that we all enjoy and perhaps provide ideas of things for you all to do.

* This WordPress blog is here for supporters of Our Chosen Hill who don’t want to join or actively use Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. If you sign up for yourself or someone you know to follow by e-mail, a copy of every post that we ‘blog’ here will go straight to yours or their inbox every time we publish something new.

We’re off and rolling…

Happy Father’s Day to all of you Dads and Grandads who are following Our Chosen Hill!

Considering that this time last Tuesday, Our Chosen Hill was barely an idea and didn’t exist online, we’ve had quite a productive few days.

The support so far for what we are doing has been amazing. Not only have we got followers on Facebook, Instagram Twitter and WordPress, we have had loads of interest from other community groups in the area who want work with us or provide opportunities for you guys if you are looking for new things to do. We want to help enhance the experience of the Hill and everything related to it and are looking at the best way to do that. More to follow soon…

We have been reading your comments and chat carefully to see if there are things that we can do using our platform that will improve your experience of the Hill and we hope to begin working with those ideas in the very near future.

Some of you may have noticed that we have jumped straight in to try and get Gloucestershire Roads on the case with repairing the potholes on the road to the Church from the Green. We’ve e-mailed the County Council direct, but as part of our aim to be completely transparent we also got in touch by Twitter. Oddly, the County Council haven’t replied as yet, but Severn Trent Water responded very quickly as they wanted to check that responsibility for that particular part of the Road is theirs. We will keep you informed here, but please do follow us on Twitter if you want to see communication like this first-hand!

As you know, Our Chosen Hill has some very clear objectives. One of them is to promote the Hill and all it has to offer, whilst another is to build this online community as we do. We have started posting pictures and information as well as promoting what we are doing, and would like your feedback to know if you like what we are doing and whether there are things we can add that you would also like to see?

We are still working out what our Social Media Platforms do best, so please bear with us if for some reason there seems to be more info and material available in some places rather than others! Your feedback is always welcome.

That’s all for now. I’d just like to say a big thank you for your support and finish off by asking you to keep spreading the word about us being here, and if you feel able, encourage others to follow us on any or all of the media platforms, because simply being a follower of a community campaign is a massive help!

Best wishes for your week ahead!

Our Chosen Hill