Woodlands by Oliver Rackman was on my Christmas list last year and we’ve been dipping in and out of this book throughout 2013. It is a big, beautifully written book (over 490 pages) in such an interesting and accessible style, and there is so much to fire the imagination that its academic rigour is worn lightly. Wildwood in to woodland; Outline of woodland history; What trees and woods are and how they behave; Woodlands and how to study them, are some of the chapter headings but the best bit is that within each chapter are sub headings that take you on a journey to other thoughts and places and each is just a couple of hundred words long. It is challenging but strangely comforting stuff and when the Guardian says it is ‘A magnificent compendium of evocations, celebrations and warnings’ I can only agree as it sums up Woodlands, perfectly.
Yesterday we tramped off in to Friston Forest near Seaford on the Sussex coast. We call it Narnia became once, a few years back, we hiked in to the forest and got lost. The snow was falling and had been for some days and there wasn’t a soul around. Just when we were loosing our bravado the forest opened up in to a beautiful view over the countryside and we could see the white horse on the hill at High and Over. This gave us our orientation and we set a course back to the campervan without incident (and without seeing Aslan, a wardrobe, a light in the forest or Tumnus!)*.
Yesterdays walk was a stroll as we only had an hour and a half but we found the view (which I’ve annotated) and we arrived back in good time for a pub lunch. Strange how the snow erases the horizon and traces, how could we have got lost so easily?
*I’m never sure of cultural and literary references as this blog has a very wide international readership so if you are thinking ‘what is he going on about’ its The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by CS Lewis.