The woods near home are great fun to explore, and the wild and windy weather over the past few weeks has opened my eyes to them even more. There are trees and branches down all over the place – but I’ve found as I’m out exploring with Bert that actually it’s the trees that have been down for some time that are the most
fascinating. So the other day I decided to risk it and take my camera out on our morning walk (and we all know what happened the last time I did that…)

Bert has decided that in among the roots of trees is where the wild things are...

Bert has decided that in among the roots of trees is where the wild things are…

But I kept a wary eye on Bert until we were well away from the
badger and foxholes, and everything was OK. In any case, he seems to have decided that the roots of trees are much more fun for rootling in and digging under.

A tangle of branches draped in rich green moss

A tangle of branches draped in rich green moss

The woods around home are really scrappy and messy – we’re not talking carefully managed woodland with majestic, magnificent trees here. We’re talking pockets of scrub and copses of spindly birch, scraggly hazel and hawthorn, with a few beech trees, growing in boggy and marshy ground, churned up by sheep desperate to find shelter. We’re talking fallen, rotten wood everywhere, snaggly and snarly twigs and branches waiting to trip you up, and deep, squidgey areas of clinging clayey mud trying to suck your wellies off as you step into it. It’s great! It might not be the most photogenic of woods, but it’s brilliant for wildlife, and really atmospheric.

Dead trees are covered in rich green moss

Dead trees are covered in rich green moss

There are fallen trees covered in thick, richly vivid, dark green moss. Lichens hang like scraggly pale-green hair from branches, and huge bracket fungi climb up broken-off stumps. There’s the constant sound of running water – there are little runlets and rivulets
everywhere, bubbling down the hillside to collect in yet more bog near the bottom.

There’s one tree that clearly went down a long, long time ago, and it’s bisected by a small stream – whether the tree created the
channel for the stream, or the stream cut the channel between the trunks I don’t know.

Lichen and moss on a branch. Or is it a lizard..?

Lichen and moss on a branch. Or is it a lizard..?

Walking through the woods, I’m accompanied by the sounds of blue tits and great tits, nuthatches, chaffinches,Β great spotted
woodpeckers, robins and wrens singing, and buzzards calling
overhead. The idyllic peace is only shattered when Bert spots a squirrel and chases it up a tree, then dances round and round the bottom, barking like crazy, challenging the rotten, cheating creature to come back down and face him…

Stark and spindly, dead against a blue sky

Stark and spindly, dead against a blue sky

Coming out of this section of woodland, we follow a track around the bottom of the hill to a stand of widely spaced larches, one of which, long-dead, reaches stark, spindly branches to the sky. There are an awful lot of old stumps here, too, where trees have long ago come down. I don’t like to hang around in this bit of the woods too long when the wind is up…

A lovely pair of old hawthorns

A lovely pair of old hawthorns

Near the top of the hill here there’s a pair of hawthorn trees – presumably once part of a field boundary. There are quite a few fences that still have some of the old hawthorns along them, like a dotted line where the hedge used to be. Unfortunately, some of those trees have recently come down and the farmer is going to have a bit of fence repair to do. There’s something about the shape and structure of this pair of trees, though, that I like, and while Bert is busy amusing himself digging under the roots of bits of old hedge (not helping the farmer’s cause any, I don’t doubt) I’ll sit on the side of the hill and contemplate the view.

We then head out into the open field and across to where there are three huge trees standing guard around an old sheep trough. All three are pretty remarkable, but one of them is completely hollow – gnarled and knobbly, with carbuncles and boils all over its outer skin; inside, it’s like a cathedral. There’s a hole at eye level where you can peer in and, on a bright day, you can see the colours of the wood, moulds, lichens and mosses growing inside; you can see the texture of the interior of the bark. It is beautiful.

Inside the dead tree

Inside the dead tree

I’m quite surprised that it’s still standing…


7 thoughts on “Wonderwood

  1. That’s a superb study of trees young and old πŸ™‚ I love the photo of the inside of the hollow tree – we’re lucky to live near the Laund Oak where you can actually stand inside it. I can never pass it without standing inside πŸ˜‰

    Yeah, scraggy woods are definitely the best wildlife havens and I’m glad your local one has been left like that.

    I also love the dead tree photo – I quite often take photos of, or just admire, the stark and beautiful shapes of dead trees – they look great silhouetted against a blue sky.

    Someone just felled my favourite tree on the entrance to our village – I think I’ve got a photo of it somewhere taken in winter standing stark against a blue sky luckily. I’m absolutely gutted as, although it wasn’t totally healthy, it had many years left in it and it wasn’t a danger to anyone 😦

    • Thanks Carol. I’ve been out this morning and taken some more photos of the old trees which I’ll get posted soon. Sorry about your favourite tree – it’s such a shame when something like that happens.

      • I might actually put a tree post out sometime myself – if I do, I’ll try to remember my photo of our local (and now ex) kissing hawthorns. They were superb and the farmer mowed round them for years until, one year, he suddenly felled them both. I was devastated! 😦

      • I’d really like to see that Carol. It’s heartbreaking when big old trees get felled or fall down. Though at least if they fall, it’s nature doing its thing.

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