” 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


It has been HOT….as the Topsy Turfy weather continues to fluctuate….


Early dawn and a glow over the lake, the start of another record breaking high temperature day….33c was our highest but felt much hotter.  I have commented before that this years weather, moving dramatically from hot to wet and back again, has had some ‘unusual’ effects on our plants and trees.  Some have suffered yet many seem to have over indulged and spread like the proverbial wildfire.


The heat has encouraged the growth, growth that then seemed to have been wilting in the dry, has just bounced back with the rains. Nearly the end of August, by now many of the leaves would have lost the bright summer green with the familiar sparkle, would be turning to a dull darker green.  Not this season…you might even say we still have those ‘Spring Greens’.

But that aside, elsewhere we have fruit that is ripening, berries in profusion, flowers turning to seed, spiders and their webs are now more common.  With the days that are now noticeably getting shorter, it is definitely what one would call ‘back endish’.  All in all it does make for some great days to explore the woods and enjoy the countryside….

The woods give shade, the lake a cooling mood, but the overwhelming sense is one of the many smells of  trees, leaves, fruit and flowers add the heat from the meadow grasses confirm that harvest should be well underway….


27th August

(C) David Oakes 2019

Hanging on ……

Oak Leaves.jpg

Whilst most of our trees have dropped there leaves, that carpet of golden Beech leaves lie in testimony to that. Some Oak trees have changed there unique shaped leaves from green to brown. Then there are some other Oak trees  that are defying the start of winter…..these leaves may look spring like, the reality is that they are thin and fragile, another strong wind or frost and they will be gone. For now they had a fresh feel to an otherwise bare and cold woodland


14th December

(C) David Oakes 2018

December the 1st….and Winter is officially here !


Winter Silhouettes….

Meteorologically the 1st of December is the first day* of winter. The past week has seen a marked change in the weather, dull damp and windy.

So it was rather a surprise to wake to a fresh sunny morning.  The big change of course is in the woods.  The low sun is casting long shadows of the trees, trees that are now dramatic skeletons,  with the autumn leaves carpeting the floor it is all rather different.  Nature dressing up in just another of her ever changing coats.


Even without cloths on…. trees always have that special appeal.

  • *IF today really is the 1st Day of winter…..and the winter solstice is on the 21st of December….does that mean winter only last 42 days in total?

 1st December

(C) David Oakes 2018