We’ve had the Log Cabin at the wood for 12 years now and as well as being genuinely useful for forestry, it doubles up as a getaway we can use any time and without any notice. With all the travel disruption at home and abroad this summer we decided to have a couple of weekend breaks away, and spend a Monday to Friday week at the wood when the weather hadn’t gone haywire.
The setup is very similar to these pictures from solo stays when I’m doing forestry work. Camp beds, gas stove for cooking, and electric 12V lights or gas lanterns. You can see more in this video I did.
During the days we did touristy things, including the Ironbridge museums, Lilleshall Abbey and Lilleshall Hall National Sports Centre, Hoo Farm which now has an impressive woodland dinosaur park, and Wightwick Manor near Wolverhampton.
At the wood, we also did important work on dens, and spotting buzzards and hares.
On the last day we looked at stretches of the old Shrewsbury and Newport Canal which is being restored here and there, including work starting at the Berwick Tunnel just east of Shrewsbury and impressive progress at Wappenshall Junction where the basin should be ready to refilled with water later this year. There’s currently a narrow boat on the short stretch of canal that survived in Newport too, which all helps build awareness of the Shrewsbury and Newport Canal Trust‘s work. The canal was part of the picture of water management in the Weald Moors on which the wood sits, and I’m becoming more interested in how it all developed as the history of the draining of the land is also the history of the wood.
On the way home we stopped for ice creams at Norbury Junction. This is where the Shrewsbury and Newport Canal met the larger Shropshire Union Canal, which is now a busy route for leisure canal boats. All that’s left there of the small canal is a short stretch used as a boat yard, but one day it may be linked up again and allow boats to travel all the way to Shrewsbury.
It’s now high summer in Century Wood and the place is full of life. I was here at the weekend, for the sun and the heat and the welcome downpours of rain. Today is Monday 20th of June 2022 and tonight will be the shortest night of the year. The Summer Solstice is tomorrow. At 10:14am BST the Sun will reach the end of its annual journey north, stop, and begin again to move southwards against the pattern of fixed stars and constellations in the sky. This makes tomorrow the longest day of the year.
Later in the week, the traditional Midsummer Day is on Friday 24th of June, which is also the saint’s day of St John the Baptist. Along with Christmas Day, the 25th of March and 29th of September, Midsummer Day was one of the Quarter Days which divided the year and on which rents were traditionally due. It was a day for many of our lost traditions of bonfires, maypoles, and fairs.
Mid summer features in one of my favourite Kipling poems, “Tree Song”, set to music by Peter Bellamy in the 1970s as “Oak and Ash and Thorn”. Of the trees the poem lists, Century Wood is only missing Yew and Beech.
Of all the trees that grow so fair,
Old England to adorn,
Greater are none beneath the Sun,
Than Oak, and Ash, and Thorn.
Sing Oak, and Ash, and Thorn, good sirs,
All of a Midsummer morn!
Surely we sing no little thing,
In Oak, and Ash, and Thorn!
In this video from May 2022, I walk from the busy crossroads into Walden Woods and to the site of Thoreau’s cabin, where he lived for 2 years, 2 months, and 2 days from July 1845. I add a stone brought from Century Wood to the cairn by the cabin site. I then look at the wildlife and views of the pond and the forest.
In this video I cut down hazel, wych elm and ash trees for firewood, as I clear the edge of a woodland ride at Century Wood to let in more light and provide more varied habitats. I use the wood tractor, trolley, and chainsaw, and bring the logs back to the drying barn to season.
After the snow fall at the end of November 2021 I walked around the National Trust’s Dunham Massey estate in Cheshire, mostly in the oak woodland of the deer park. I made this video using a new iPhone Pro 13. We see fallen and decaying trees, fallow deer, the old brick slaughterhouse tower, ducks in the moat in front of the House.
The release of Denis Villeneuve’s wonderful film of the first half of Frank Herbert’s “Dune” has coincided with the COP26 climate conference in Glasgow, but few reviewers have made the connection because the book’s ecological themes are largely absent from the screen version.
Last month I had a problem with the tractor not starting and I ended up replacing the carburettor and the fuel lines. I also improved the ground clearance with a “pulley cut”, and this post also shows some modifications I made to the car trailer I use to bring firewood home from Century Wood.
The toilet shed was the first building I put up at the wood, way back in 2009. This post talks through the original design with photos I took at the time. All before it was ever used in case you’re worried 🙂 In short, it’s an off grid composting toilet set up with separate chambers and seats for liquids vs solids+liquids.
I based the building on a shed kit from Tiger Sheds. It’s an 8ft by 6ft apex shed which cost £248 in 2009. Since 2009 the average price rise across the economy has only been about 30%, but timber has sky rocketed. The equivalent shed now costs over £700!
This week Century Wood received Grown in Britain certification. This allows us to display the red, blue and green logo here on the website and in association with firewood if I start selling it in the future.
The Drying Barn at Century Wood has made a big difference since I put it up in 2018. This post shows how the barn was built and then some pictures from September after another good tidy up of the stuff it “accumulates” – like garden sheds do, almost by themselves.
These two pictures show the Barn as it is now and one of the sketches I drew in January 2018 before I started. It’s next to the Log Cabin in the Glade at the centre of the wood.