October 31, 2010

A Spooky Wood...

This weekend we went for a walk in a rather spooky wood. Come with me if you dare...

It sits on the top of a local escarpment at the far Eastern reaches of the Chilterns, and is the location of an Iron Age fort. It is one of those small woods which begin and end abruptly, and so as you step from the light to the much darker environment of the wood, eyes and ears and even nose adjust suddenly to the changes. This time of year, the leaf litter muffles footsteps but there are enough leaves still on the tall beech trees to block out much of the sky.

So it was dark, and quiet and wierdly redolent of its Iron Age past, and the Roman, Viking and Medieval   histories that have shaped it. The roots of these ancient trees were like mini landscapes themselves, or the sinewy hands and feet of sleeping leviathans.

I lost the rest of my family taking this photo, I wasn't happy, my calls became a little screechy and I realised that I don't like being alone in a wood. This, despite the fact I love trees, adore a dappled, bluebell carpeted wood in May, and know that for the very future of the planet they are A Jolly Good Thing. Each begnign and beautiful and unique.

I blame my nervousness on The Brothers Grimm, and the wolves and danger and sense of horror that myths and narratives have woven around the forrested landscape. And of course, Walt who let Bambi's mother die, a filmatic trauma from which I may never have quite recovered! But perhaps this is unfair, I think we probably all share a primordal, unspoken fear of landscapes that hide horizons and therefore leave us vulnerable to unseen, unseeable dangers. And isn't unseeable danger what we all fear most.....

Clearly I lived to tell the tale and we were soon re-united by a plinth in the middle of the wood, and I knew the National Trust would have some sensible, no-nonsense words about the place that would bring me back to a less spooked sensibility.

double click to read

I was wrong. This wood was bequeathed by one, grieving brother in the memory of the two others he lost in the First World War, one in the bloodbath of the Somme. So grief stalks the woods as well.

That was enough, I was ready to leave the woods behind, noticing the amazing Autumn colour as we left.

So, do you love woods, like many of my friends do, needing time in them, like others crave the sea? Or do they leave you a bit unsettled, and apt to check over your shoulder? I'd love to know.

*Thank you for some really kind comments on the last post about my first fumbling attempt at poetry since primary school - I won't inflict more on you on a regular basis!*


  1. great pictures and story. i love the woods but i love all the outdoors, beaches and desert too.


  2. A perfect day to visit a spooky woods. Thanks for taking us along.

  3. What a fantastic wood. I don't think we have woods near us that we regularly visit. I'm too afraid of losing little children in them!

    But I do love a good walk in the woods - after a traditional Sundau lunch. Just the thing to work it off!

  4. It's all Hallows Eve here
    I am loving the forest green theme...
    my heart is happiest ...onboard our classic Chrissy.

  5. I love the woods but I need a dog and a good guide along.

    I fear getting lost, running into an unfriendly man of the woods and getting stuck there after sundown.

    Um,maybe I love the woods in theory. I love your woods though.

    Looking forward to spring and bluebells.

    xo Jane

  6. Janet, I am a coastal, wide open spaces girl. I like a lot of sky and space. I need to find some desert.x

    Webb, my pleasure!x

    Sarah, now my kids have to find me! x

    Jane, funny thing about woods - they wow and spook at the same time!x


  7. Belinda,

    I haven't heard you commenton your blossoming (!) business recently. How is it all going?

    I was rather excited at the idea of being able to order the bunches of flowers you were showing last time you mentioned it.

    Or have you been too busy thinking up wonderful poetry for us to read?!


  8. I find woods a bit spooky, although I love trees. That monument was so sad, things like that always bring me near to tears.

  9. Hi Belinda - just to say I loved your answers/comment on my blog! Thanks - it seems we are kindred spirits! Lou x

  10. I loved your spooky wood tale Belinda. I did a similar one last year for Halloween in a Blair Witch Project type of way (without the wobbly camera work of course!) Great fun.

    I love the woods but also like the big wide skies of the East Anglian coast too.