Today, in Brede High Woods, sunshine floods across the ancient and secondary woodlands – very muddy underfoot after rain yesterday and basically since last March!. The land is managed by the Woodland Trust with some areas of the original planting of broad leaf trees – beech, hornbeam and coppiced sweet chestnut – still retained and some re planting when areas of old coniferous trees are felled. So grid planting of beech, as seen above, interweave with single specimens of oak and beech . . .

. . .  a sweet perfume filtered through the trees, perhaps from flowering ivy  – holly was evident so it seemed natural to think there was ivy hiding somewhere. . . .

. . . signs of old practices too. Ancient hornbeams with powerful exposed roots had obvious signs of the original layering method of a laid hedge. The roots  now form sheltered crevices for blechnum ferns. Sunken lanes, or holloways, banks and ditches are landscape features as well as sawpits and iron-ore extraction pits, ruined buildings and other lumps and bumps.

Other growths erupt from trunks.

Open heathland is being cleared and restored and looked beautiful – but the whole atmosphere quickly changed as a dog off the lead came crashing through the tree stand chasing a couple of fallow deer.  This is OK, apparently, as the owner thinks it’s good for the deer’s heart rate! The deer escaped but the impression was that this was how the dog – many others were off the lead too – was exercised.

Small ponds, springs and streams run through the woods following a course down to Powdermill Reservoir – fine reflection today.

I must admit to not being a great rememberer on Remembrance Day – which is marked today. I do remember carrying the flag whilst a girl guide (that only lasted a short time) chosen because I was tall enough to deal with the big flag at a Remembrance Day service. However, at the highest part of the woods, quite near the image below is a well positioned bench that has an inscription in memory of Corporal John Rigby , of the 4th Battalion The Rifles, who died on his 24th birthday just hours after he was injured in a roadside bomb in Iraq in June 2007. John was a frequent visitor to the woods – he lived locally. Click on the link below and read about John:

And thinking about John, a poem from a war poet . . . .

The rain of a night and a day and a night
Stops at the light
Of this pale choked day. The peering sun
Sees what has been done.
The road under the trees has a border new
Of purple hue
Inside the border of bright thin grass:
For all that has
Been left by November of leaves is torn
From hazel and thorn
And the greater trees. Throughout the copse
No dead leaf drops
On grey grass, green moss, burnt-orange fern,
At the wind’s return:
The leaflets out of the ash-tree shed
Are thinly spread
In the road, like little black fish, inlaid,
As if they played.
What hangs from the myriad branches down there
So hard and bare
Is twelve yellow apples lovely to see
On one crab-tree.
And on each twig of every tree in the dell
Crystals both dark and bright of the rain
That begins again.   Edward Thomas  After Rain

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