These are some photos I took in Windsor Great Park in July. The park has been royal forest and attached to Windsor Castle itself since the time of William the Conqueror. As well as general pictures of the park, its open spaces and woodland, I took photos of very well established rhododendron (showing just how bad it can get unchecked) and the park’s herd of red deer.
The glade at the centre of Century Wood was the first major feature I established after buying the wood almost ten years ago. I photographed the process as I went along and in this post I’ve brought the story together.
When I started there were no open spaces in the wood and just a short ride running from the gate but going nowhere near the wood’s centre. So I pretty much had a blank canvas. I roughed out some ideas for how to lay things out at the same time as completing the purchase in the first winter, but didn’t start work until the autumn – almost a year after first viewing and photographing the wood. In online woodland forums one of the first pieces of advice people now get is to wait a year before doing anything, and back then I knew I certainly wasn’t going to commit to any significant changes until I’d seen things in high summer.
Last weekend I was at the Cheshire Steam Fair, and one of the stands had a collection of vintage chainsaws and a portable steam saw. You can see some photos and video of them here.
I started sketching out routes for the ride network when I bought Century Wood but only started work seriously about a year later. Before then as the first summer bloomed I was faced with ground vegetation, especially nettles, which threatened to become impenetrable. Over the years I’ve employed various techniques for mowing the rides and glades, or even just getting around. Eventually I settled on a scythe mower which is still serving me well seven years later.
I had the opportunity to visit La Garenne in the Jura mountains of Switzerland earlier this year. The zoo takes in and treats hundreds of injured wild animals, with most released back into the Swiss countryside. It also participates in breeding and reintroduction programmes. The focus is on animals which are native to the region, and this includes lynx, wolves, and boar which were once native to Britain too. In the Jura mountains, all three are now present in the wild to varying degrees, either by deliberate reintroduction or after recolonising the region from refuges elsewhere.
Woodland continually creates deadwood, as branches fall or trees die. It used to be something that people “tidied up” and some still do. I came across a couple of lovely examples in Century Wood last week which show how wonderful and important it is.
The Green Man represents man in nature and as such makes a good symbol of the human aspect of rewilding. It has appeared on churches for hundreds of years but was only given a name in Lady Raglan’s Folklore Journal paper in 1939. People have since made wider connections to Jack-in-the-Green of Morris dancing and May Day festivals, the Celtic horned god Cernunnos, Herne the Hunter, and even Robin Hood. So it is both old and relatively new as a concept. Which also applies to the Green Man Festival in Clun.
Earlier this week I spent some time on the roadway that leads into the centre of Century Wood. Mainly cutting back overhanging branches and dealing with brambles. I took some pictures of what I’d done, and also of a poplar stump coppice by the side of the ride.
I don’t know about you, but poetry at school was a hit and miss business. Looking back, it feels as if a lot of verse was thrown in my general direction, some of which has stuck and some of which just bounced off – even when committed to memory overnight to placate a teacher. W.B. Yeats’ poem “The Lake Isle of Innisfree” is one that stuck, and a couple of years ago I realised its connection to hutting and to Walden in particular. The poem is short enough to quote in full here.