A mid-month Friday provided the perfect opportunity to explore the bluebell woods that Roy the dahlia-grower had told me about. I set off eagerly.
It really wasn’t that far – probably not much more than a mile and a half. But it was all uphill. A long, steady and at times steep, climb. It was quite a puff. But no matter, the roadsides were magnificent. There was so much to see and enjoy – and plenty of reasons to pause for a breath or two and take a photo.
The entrance to the wood was exactly where Roy had told me. Not so far away I could see Lanreath, one of our local villages. We’ve never driven to it via these roads. I could have continued on to the village had I wished it: a walk for another day perhaps. I turned off-road at last and entered the wood. I’ve since learned I was entering East Court Wood. I like to know the names of things.
The weather was perfect. I’d got quite hot making the climb but in the woods it was shady and cool. The bluebells were probably just passed their best but were still beautiful: a carpet of purple and blue stretching on amid ivy-clad tree trunks. Overhead tiny bright spring leaves: and on the ground, unfurling fresh and vibrant, fronds of ferns. There were birds singing and calling of course. And not a soul in sight.
The path was clear and well-trodden; obviously regularly used. I had no idea how big these woods were or where the path went; I thought I’d just carry on wandering and see what happened.
After a time, I lost the bluebells and the path became a little more overgrown. Fallen trees and branches had to be negotiated. The path was heading downwards and curving around; I felt reasonably confident that it would prove to be a loop. At the bottom was a lazy stream, barely moving. And a rope swing stretching across. I startled a heron. It took off and flapped away in a most desultory fashion; disgruntled at being disturbed no doubt.
Then the path grew even less obvious. Still a path, but narrower and with more obstacles. It started to climb upwards again. It took even more puff to scramble back up. I was very glad to rejoin the bluebells and finally see the gate where I’d entered.
Downhill all the way home – hurrah! Except… I had very foolishly worn crocs with bare feet. And both feet now had blisters on the top which was fine if going uphill – much less so going down when each croc was pushing hard against the sore spots. The descent was rather painful. And I imagine I looked very strange, trying as I was to walk in a way that minimized the friction. A lesson learned then. But a lovely walk nonetheless, which left me refreshed and peaceful. Thanks, Roy!
I can’t resist adding this poem by John Clare, one of the masters in celebrating the joys of the countryside. I’m sitting on my hands though, to prevent myself from adding punctuation!
Who hath not felt the influence that so calms
The weary mind in summers sultry hours
When wandering thickest woods beneath the arms
Of ancient oaks and brushing nameless flowers
That verge the little ride who hath not made
A minutes waste of time and sat him down
Upon a pleasant swell to gaze awhile
On crowding ferns bluebells and hazel leaves
And showers of lady smocks so called by toil
When boys sprote gathering sit on stulps and weave
Garlands while barkmen pill the fallen tree
– Then mid the green variety to start
Who hath (not) met that mood from turmoil free
And felt a placid joy refreshed at heart