A Lifting Woodland Walk

Last week, lockdown restrictions lifted ever so slightly, which means we can now drive to somewhere for a walk. The first place I really wanted to get out to was my favourite local woodland walk, about a 10-minute drive away.

I recall the first time I came across this little gem of a place. I was awed by the amazing conclave of trees framing the moss-covered stone ruins, the shafts of light from above dappling on the ground as the leaves on the trees rustled in the gentle breeze. My ears pricked up as bird calls of all species resounded through the woods. There was a certain magic and fantasy in the air as I walked through the beautiful beech and oak avenue, foxgloves and red campions dotted along the bank to complete the scene. This became my special place; it has never failed to present me with wonders every time I visit, and I would very often have this magical tree kingdom all to myself.

I love how trees look in April/May, in Devon this is when a million and one leaves are busy growing unabashedly. Young oak leaves – with a blush of peach – have that ingenuous translucence about them as you look up towards the sky. The crowns are just starting to fill out without being too luxuriant so light can still easily filter through. It’s also a great time for bird spotting as our feathered friends nest amongst the canopy layer.

Having the greatest interest in ancient and veteran trees – in addition to admiring the ‘leafy web’ of a tree’s canopy – what I really love is the woody form of a tree. On this walk I get to see some particularly gnarly oak and beech tree trunks that look like they have defied both gravity and mortality, a humble reminder that these giants have existed on our planet way longer than us.

In the presence of spring and its gifts, we were lucky to have this walk all to ourselves with no rush at all and plenty of time to observe Nature in her glory. I do hope this magical tree kingdom will be here for awhile, long after I’m gone.

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