Under a Spreading Oak Tree…


The Oak tree’s this year are loaded with acorns….a great year for the Squirrels and Jays, amongst other wildlife.  Yes, it would appear to be a good crop this season with lots of plump acorns.

If one believes the Country Folk Lore, we best get ready for a severely bad winter!

Please Remember ….

Stay Safe …. Be Kind…. Look After Each Other

4th September

(C) David Oakes 2020

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


” 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.


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


Another dawn and yet the Season has not moved on….


There might just be a small hint of Autumn…

But in truth not that much of a hint. Yes, another day and we again have sun and blue skies and those above average temperatures for September continue the trend into October.  Our local woods are still dark under a thick canopy of leaves and those leaves are still a vibrant spring green.  So I thought we would head to some old Oak and Beech woods a little further away to see if things were any different.

Some ferns and bracken have started to turn to the red/brown of autumn but that overall woodland feel is of spring and summer, the sun casting a green shadow to the dry woodland floor. The only autumnal concession is that the nights are getting colder and frosts can surely not be far away and that woodland smell is just starting to develop that distinctive musty aroma that can only mean autumn….


But we will let this wizened stump of a veteran Oak have the last word.  It has seen many winters and enjoyed as many summers.  It is a stubborn old Oak and will probably be arround for a good many years to come…and to prove the point it is topped with a bright full,crisp, green haircut…


3rd October

(C) David Oakes 2016

An Indian Equinox ……


Allestree Lake….

I think this is what is called an Indian Summer….the Autumn Equinox has just past yet we are still enjoying what by any standards is a  great spell of summer weather.  True, this morning did start with temperatures of 9c (that felt cold) but soon rose to a warm 19/20c……not bad for late September.

New life is still making the most of this warm spell to gather its strength for the winter ahead…


A young Black Headed Gull appears to stand guard over two young Coot’s and an even younger Moorhen…..there are even some more ducklings on the lake.

The Ash Tree in the Meadow is still in full and healthy leaf..


The Ash is for me an ‘indicator’ Tree.  The old Spring saying of “Ash before Oak and we are in for a Soak – Oak before the Ash we are in for a Splash” does seem to have some credability.  But one thing is much more of a certainty…the Ash will be the first to shed all its leaves and usually overnight!  As yet it still suggests summer is with us.

Talking of trees with a fine head of leaf, our venerable Furlong Oak, although weather beaten having endured many winters and rather skeleton like, is still able to sport a trim haircut. A future replacement is already challenging for honours…


Why Furlong Oak ? Well thats my name for the veteran. On old maps this tree is marked in one of a network of fields, this field was named Oak Furlong Meadow…simple!

Fruits are well formed on Cornus (both the Red and Green Cornus) and Hawthorn, whilst Rosebay Willowherb have turned to seed and the Balsam now wilting, yet still supply insects with nectar..

Warm and settled it appears but casting an eye across the wild meadow to the woodland beyond and you can clearly see that some hints of autumn’s colours are starting to form


The weather and seasons will have their own final say as to when the real change will occur.  Meantime I am fully enjoying this Indian Summer style Equinox

24th September

(C) David Oakes 2016

Not Quite a Double Take…..


November’s Gold

I published this Autumnal image a couple of Novembers ago…it is still one of my favourite Autumn images.  However as I was passing this location this week I thought it might be interesting to shot the same trees as they are now at the beginning of September.


Looks very different.  Both trees have a full head of rich green Oak leaves with what appears to be a good crop of Acorns forming.

But hiding away under that canopy is one of my favourite Ancient Oak Trees.  You can just make it out through the branches on the left above.It is the one that is known as the Old Man of Calke….reputedly well over 1000 years old and just one of several ancient Oaks within this old  Parkland on the Calke Estate.


The Old Man of Calke

It’s massive trunk has for many years been hollowed out by Oak beetles but that outer shell stands firm against winds and rain.  It may look craggy and so obviously old…..but I don’t reckon its going anywhere else for many years to come.

I will try to get back when the autumn colour returns.

8th September

(C) David Oakes 2016