Dear Woodlanders,

Spring is most definitely on the way. With the ancient Celtic feast-day of Imbolc now past, things are beginning to stir and certain signs of life are creeping back to the quiet woodland.  A time of the year rich is folklore and symbolism, we can all surely appreciate the hope that spring brings now more than ever, with lockdown still maintaining a grip like the old man of winter himself.

‘With the flowering of the snowdrops, the winter king must fly, for the boys they are a-hunting, beneath the leaden sky’

Imbolc traditionally celebrates the lactation of the ewes and in Ireland, where Celtic tradition remains vibrant, crosses are woven from rushes to celebrate the goddess Bridget, the feminine spirit of springtime. Where I come from in the West Country, a more macabre tradition saw young lads out to catch a wren and parade it aloft on a stick. This was symbolic of the death of winter (the tiny wren being an inspirational survivor was often called the winter king). Thankfully, this tradition is long since past and we are inclined to treat our birds with more kindness! Do be sure to keep your feeders topped up as those wee birds will appreciate all the food they can get just now.

Hazel catkins, the male flowers. Hazel is largely confined to the north-west fringes of the woodland. Why is this?

On Saturday, Richard Blore of Total Landscapes lent his time and his kit to extract timber from the big mess of felled trees at the back of the houses by Linda’s Path. His skilled use of the 2.6 tonne excavator made the salvaging of firewood and saw-logs very efficient. Nice one, Richard.

Small but mighty, Richard’s grab-mounted digger provided more muscle than we ever could

Having a machine on site really made the place feel like a working woodland once again. This is one of our big ambitions, to embark on an efficient but sensitive regime of management to truly make the most of this beautiful and bountiful woodland. This doesn’t mean harvesting all the timber we can, nor does it mean complete abandonment to fully natural processes. It means balancing the needs of people and nature, to mimic natural forest dynamics and shaping a wood that can yield us the resources we need as well as those of the wildlife we share it with.

An old extraction route. One day this could be in use once again.  

Every stem removed is an opportunity for several new ones to begin life. As the spring unfolds, thoughts turn to those trees and plants whose opportunities are about to arrive. Nowhere is this more keenly anticipated than at Castle Coppice by the old quarry at Bearside. Here, Tom McBain has being slaying Rhododendron with great vengeance, hoping the bluebells that grow there will stand to benefit. Keep your eyes peeled!

Stay tuned for more updates, and as ever, please don’t hesitate to get in touch about anything woodsy.

Cheers for now,


*This week’s Blog is called Blorg, after Richard Blore who came by on Saturday, thanks again!