Dereham’s green lung has thousands of years of history
- Credit: Matthew Usher
Dereham editor ADAM LAZZARI explains why he loves the town's green lung: Neatherd Moor...
I've always enjoyed walks in woodland and countryside.
With a busy lifestyle, I've found it increasingly important to take the time to get out and enjoy relaxing rural retreats in Norfolk and further afield.
Recent holidays in the Lake District, Peak District and North York Moors have served to increase my love of rural paradise.
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A taste of the great British countryside can also be found in an area of common land close to the centre of one of Norfolk's busiest market towns.
Neatherd Moor, in Dereham, is a wonderful place for a relaxing walk or jog - to enjoy wildlife, peace and tranquillity.
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With colourful leaves still providing cherished images of autumn, Neatherd Moor is particularly picturesque at this time of year.
The moor is recognised as one of the most valuable nature habitats in Norfolk and was designated as a County Wildlife Site in 2013.
Today, it plays an important role as Dereham's green lung.
Historically, the moor played a key role in the town's economy. The land was used for grazing and sourcing different types of raw materials until the early 1800s.
Neatherd Moor was formerly known as Gallow Tree Moor, suggesting that this was the site of the town gallows before a new gallows was built in the post medieval Market Place on the site of the later Assembly Rooms.
The area was also one of prehistoric activity; Bronze Age hearths and flints have been found here.
Today Neatherd Moor means an awful lot to the people of Dereham.
The site is being fiercely protected by residents who are campaigning against plans to build 62 homes nearby.
The planning application, which is yet to be determined, is one of the most objected-to in Dereham's history.
In the summer, there were celebrations at Neatherd Moor when Dereham Town Council opened a new £106,000 play area.
Dozens of children, parents and grandparents attended the opening ceremony.
At this time of year, with frenzied crowds of Christmas shoppers dominating our high streets, Neatherd Moor provides an ideal escape.
Fresh winter air and exercise is also the perfect antidote to the inevitable bloated, restless feeling we all get after overindulging over Christmas.