Each Spring the Friends of Hillhouse Wood organise two guided walks – one to look at the Bluebells, and a Dawn Chorus one. These are normally 2-3 weeks apart, to match each one to when its subjects are at their best. However this year things were different, and for the first time ever we ran both walks on the same weekend. Continue reading
Wood anemones are good indicators of ancient woodland and grassland as colonies spread very slowly (supposedly 6 feet in a hundred years, although one wonders who has measured this!). Continue reading
These days the celebration of May Day is seen as an opportunity to have some innocent fun – dancing around the Maypole and perhaps watching some Morris dancers strut their stuff. Well, in the apolitical version of the day, anyway.
But the associations with Mayday were not always so positive and wholesome. Mayday has always been concerned with marking the transition from winter to summer. But when life was more agrarian, and having enough food was less assured, it was linked to the need to ensure good crops in the fields, gardens and woods. It was linked to fertility of all kinds, including human. People being what they are, this resulted in a tendency for young people to head off into the woods in couples. So Mayday, and the plants associated with it, developed a certain dubious image in the minds of Puritans and their fellow travellers. Continue reading
In my spare time (ha ha) I am involved with the management of a local wood. This is owned by The Woodland Trust, but has a group of local volunteers who do much of the practical work. A highlight of the wood is its display of Bluebells (it featured in The Times’ recent list of ten great woods to visit), and each spring we organise guided walks to show people what the wood has to offer. Since the recent sad demise of local wildlife expert Joe Firmin I have stepped in as a very inadequate replacement. I used some of the information we’ve collated for the app to add a little extra interest to what I was able to tell people.
This is my report of the walk … Continue reading