RENT is said to be pretty extortionate in our part of the world, so how's this for a lease agreement – a single rose bush a year.

That is what Oxfordshire County Council pays to the Earth Trust each summer to allow members of public to wander freely on its beautiful land at Wittenham Clumps.

The tradition was kept alive on Friday when county council chairman Michael Waine presented this year's rose to Earth Trust CEO Jayne Manley and chairman of trustees Doug Hulyer.

Tim Stevenson, Lord Lieutenant of Oxfordshire, adjudicated.

Mr Waine said: "This ceremony is a long standing tradition that the county council is delighted to honour.

"Public access to the countryside is an important issue for both the county council and the Earth Trust, so the rose ceremony is a very important annual event in our calendars.

"Indeed it is an a mid-summer Oxfordshire fixture and part of the fabric of our wonderful county."

The "peppercorn rent" agreement has been paid to the landowners of Wittenham Clumps since February 1970.

At the time the area was still in Berkshire: since 1974, the Wittenham Rose has been presented by Oxfordshire County Council.

It is a symbolic gesture which allows ongoing access for the general public to the woods, pastureland and round hills of the nature reserve.

Mr Hulyer said on Friday: "Earth Trust is proud to be guardian of this special and unique place.

"The nature reserve is the most highly visited free space in Oxfordshire and by maintaining this free access we want to encourage even more people to come and explore and be inspired."