The car park today was packed, and I mean PACKED.
In all the years we have been to the woods, we have never known it to be as busy as it was today. I was turning the car round to leave when someone pulled away so we took their vacated space.
There were a lot of people heading towards the main path, so we went along the perimeter fence, which as usual was a bit muddy underfoot because of the recent rain and dogshit alley. There are no bins here, and it is not unusual to see bushes adorned with brightly coloured poo bags, or poo bags slung in gullies or into the undergrowth. That is of course by those who actually clear up after their dogs. At least 50% of visitors don’t.
Anyway, by the time we’d cleared the poo slalom and met up with two shaggy and muddy goldendoodles plus a trio of elderly dogs of various breeds who were all up for fuss, we were soon on one of the back tracks and there was no-one in sight.
Maggie loved it here. She was free to roam to her heart’s content, but she never ran off or went too far away. She would quarter every inch of an area abundant in smells of squirrels, deer, rabbits and foxes, and if there were any birds to lift, she’d flush them out, wagging her tail in joyful glee at her success.
We noticed a couple moving away from us towards the top end of the plantation, and they had a big dog that was having a whale of a time. Putting the camera on zoom I could see it was a german shepherd and I reduced the zoom to snap this because of the beautiful colours.
We know the paths so well, and sometimes we would park in the lay-by at the top end and walk down for a change, but we didn’t come in that way today.
We passed places where we ‘borrowed’ a rhododendron cutting that flourished in the cottage front garden, and areas where we used to sit on fallen logs and watch the sheep in the fields on the outskirts. They were always so clean and white, we wondered if they took regular dips in the huge lake.
We never got lost, even if we took twists and turns cutting through the trees rather than sticking to the regular routes, Maggie always leading the way.
We have a lot of happy memories here. I came on my own several times when I had something on my mind or when Hubby was in hospital. I was never worried and felt totally safe.
Humphrey’s Stump is still there, but looking worse for wear as it has rotted and decayed. We wonder if Humphrey is still around as we moved away in 2014 and he was about 6 then.
The deadly silence we remember from those times was haunting as so much natural habitat had been destroyed, it was devastating and bleak.
The wind today was whispering through the trees, its messages accompanied by birdsong, so beautiful to hear. The forest is recovering.