” There is Pleasure in the Pathless Woods” ….. Lord Byron

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” There is Pleasure in the Pathless Woods”….. not my words, but exactly my sentiment on a weekend when the weather started so well.  Cold, windy but lots of sunshine, true there was a good deal of clouds about but the high wind kept them scudding along.

So there was no excuses and nothing better than heading out to enjoy a woodland walk. The location is South Derbyshire and the woods are part of a very ancient woodland.

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Long term followers will recognise that I have long had an affection for woodland and the trees across the seasons…the older the trees and the wilder the weather the better.  But today despite the winds the woods are rather calm and benign, autumns leaves dry and golden and the few paths that do exist carpeted in shades of brown and gold.  Add long shadows from a low sun and its a perfect day to be here…

 This is a mixed woodland but predominantly tall Beech with their clinging claw like roots, spreading Chestnuts with there broad canopies but also and my favourite of all the many ancient Oak trees….. Oak trees with gnarled and broad trunks that have stood for centuries some indeed over 1000 years.

One Oak in particular has been named “The Old Man of Calke” for over 1000 years it has withstood storms and avoided the axeman.  Its shape is dramatic, short and stumpy with more delicate branches reaching up like tentacles, clawing the sky.  At this time of the year the Oak is bare, all the better the admire the many lumps and bumps that time and weather have helped create….but with luck it will navigate this winter and in Spring will once again produce a head of green leaves, adding yet another year to the many it has already seen.   No visit to these woods would be complete with out ensuring we pay our respects to the Old Man….

There is a pleasure in the pathless woods,
There is a rapture on the lonely shore,
There is society, where none intrudes,
By the deep sea, and music in its roar:

Lord Byron.

Footnote:- in the interest of transparency let me explain that was Saturday….we woke to a Sunday where normal wet weather had returned….. I guess that made Saturday all the more special 🙂

3rd February

(C) David Oakes 2020