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.
Century Wood is called Century Wood because it was first planted up as woodland by the Duke of Sutherland around 1900. The Leveson-Gower family gradually accumulated land in Shropshire, Staffordshire, and Cheshire over several centuries. Their stewardship ultimately affected the pattern of land ownership today and even what the land looks like.
There were a lot of Leveson-Gowers, but I’m only going to pick out three that made the most difference to how Century Wood looks today.
Continue reading “The Duke’s woodland”
At the weekend we went to the Shropshire Outdoor Show at Whittington Castle near Oswestry. The show is now in its second year and thankfully was able to go ahead despite the pandemic. Two dozen stands with a mixture of bushcraft, traditional crafts, and demonstrations like archery. A strong and lovely smell of wood smoke too. During the afternoon I came across a classic book on forestry, but more of that later.
The location of Whttington Castle is another of Shropshire’s hidden gems. The castle is operated by a charitable preservation trust on a 99 year lease, and they have done a lot of conservation work on the fabric of the buildings. As well as a beautiful place to visit, they also host reenactment events and regular car boots sales.
Continue reading “Book hunting at the Shropshire Outdoor Show”
There were widespread floods in Shropshire this weekend and they reached right to the boundaries of Century Wood. I had planned to stay for the day but in the end I broke off early and went up to the Lilleshall Monument for a wider view and then to Lilleshall Abbey. Inundations aside, it was a beautiful sunny autumn day.
This first picture shows the view from the bridge over the mainline railway near Mill Meece, with a flooded field beside the tracks. A diversion had been put in place, but this led to a completely flooded lane complete with abandoned Land Rover Discovery half sunk into the verge.
Continue reading “Flood!”
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.
Continue reading “Green Man festival in Clun”
There’s not going to be a beacon on the top of Shropshire’s Wrekin hill tonight, even though there will be a thousand beacons across the UK for the Queen’s 90th birthday. But back in 2012 for the Diamond Jubilee there was, and like a few hundred other people I climbed the hill in the dusk to see it lit.
Continue reading “Queen’s Diamond Jubilee beacon on the Wrekin”