I have mentioned in previous blog posts about how much i enjoy living and walking by the sea.
Walking along the beach is something i especially enjoy and something that i've been doing quite a lot of recently. There is something irresistible about walking along a sandy beach, when both the tide and the sun are out.
I enjoy walking in many different surroundings. Most of the time i seem to find myself walking in wide open spaces. The beach, the South Downs etc. So, it is nice to go somewhere a little more enclosed for a change and today was one of those occasions.
Brede High Woods are only a few miles from my house. But, a million miles away in terms of surroundings. The woods, which are partly ancient woodland, cover an area of 647 acres. So, there is plenty of room to be alone.
They are owned and looked after by The Woodland Trust, an organisation that i am very happy to be a member of. The Woodland Trust only acquired Brede High Woods, a few years ago, after an appeal. The fact that these wonderful woods were saved from being broken up into smaller parts, or worse, shows how valuable a charity like The Woodland Trust is in protecting and conserving our natural heritage.
I have walked in many woods before. But, i must admit that these are probably my favourite. Partly because of the sheer diversity of the woods themselves. The huge size obvioulsy helps with this. As does the fact that there is also a reservoir amongst the woods. This helps add a little something extra.
I actually only discovered Brede High Woods a year, or so ago. Although i knew of them, i had never got around to visiting them. A big mistake and how often do we do that? We have a place close to home and we just don't seem to find the time, or the inclination to go there. And yet, when we do, we suddenly realise what we've been missing and we can't wait to go back again.
I have now walked there during all four seasons and, just like walking on the beach, there is always something new to see every time you go there.
I certainly noticed the difference between todays visit and my previous one. Paths that i had taken a few months back were pretty much impassable. The abundance of butterflies, dragonflies and many species of birds was noticable and also very good to see. They are sorely missed during the winter months.
Walking in the woods is, for me at least, a completely different experience to walking in the more open spaces that i mentioned earlier. There can be an almost claustrophobic feeling at times. The trees seem to close in on you, the sunlight disappears and the darkness descends the deeper you venture into the canopy of trees. If you dare!
Of course, you could keep to the beaten path. But, if you're anything like me, you like to explore and just can't resist trying to find out what lies beyond the tree line. There is also something special about that feeling of walking through years worth of the fallen leaves and twigs, which litter the ground. You just don't get that on the pathways.
One other aspect of walking in the woods, is that you are never quite sure what you might come across, or disturb. Apart from the many birds and insects that i have already mentioned. I have also disturbed deer.
I vividly remember one occasion, when i suddenly came across a deer. Which i only noticed when i was quite close to it. Luckily, i saw the deer before it saw me. When it finally spotted me, we both stood there looking at each other for a while, before it finally decided to run away.
And i haven't even mentioned the wide variety of plant life that you are likely to stumble upon.
But, with both the flora and fauna, you do, of course, need to keep your eyes and ears open. This is one of the main reasons why i tend to walk on my own. You can miss so much by not paying attenttion to your surroundings. And, of course, you can miss even more by scaring away anything that might hear you coming. Especially, if you are talking loudly!
It never ceases to amaze me how many walkers, whether in the woods, or more open spaces, pay little attention to what is often happening right under their noses.
What is the point of going to these wonderful places, if you then don't fully take in what is all around you?
Each to their own, i guess?
I like to think that i fully appreciate the sights and sounds that are around me and i certainly intend to experience more of them in the future.
I am very thankful that i live in an area where i can do that and very easily too :)