"To be taken at least once a year in the month of April or early May. Guaranteed to cast things in a more positive light. Warning: highly addictive; may contain Bluebells"
So, here we are once more, in the little village of St Paul's Walden in Hertfordshire, for our annual stroll in the delectable countryside hereabouts, particularly its ancient woodlands. We'll start at the church.
And here's a surprise: a cairn! These structures are common enough in our upland regions, but unheard of down here in the gentle south. Mind you the field here is so stony that there's plenty of raw material for construction. Over there on your left is Hitch Wood, where we'll shortly be making our way. With the eye of faith you might even make out the faintest tinge of the bluebells beneath the trees.
But first here's a nice posy of wild primroses, the "sweet prim-a-roses" that feature so often in the old songs of southern England.
And after crossing a minor road here we are in the wood itself with its carpet of bluebells. A series of winding, scenic paths has been made through the trees to show you the best of the floral display and save people trampling all over the blooms.
These are English bluebells and, as far as I know, only give such wonderful displays in English woods. Their colour does vary, and also shows differently depending on whether the flowers are in sunlight or shadow.
This part of Hertfordshire has many small areas of woodland and nearly all of them have bluebells. I presume that this was once, more than a thousand years ago, one huge wood - what a show that would have been. Hitch Wood is one of the better known ones, being easily accessible with a small parking area, but others are easily its equal. I keep discovering more each year - I'll show you another in the next post.
And with that promise we'll push on with our country stroll, for there are other things to see.
You don't expect to find a series of brick pillars built in the heart of the wood, but here they are. They are relics from wartime when a training camp was set up here, these structures are chimneys from what was once the cookhouse.
Less obvious to most people is this earthen bank which marks the side of an old road. There was once a hedge on top of the bank and those twisted, gnarly trees are what remains of the saplings whose branches were partly cut through and interwoven to produce a living, stock-proof barrier. When farmworkers in this area spoke of the task of "hedging" this is what they meant; a far cry from suburban gardeners trimming their privet hedges with power tools.
Out of the woods for a short while to pass this isolated farmhouse. The official footpath here goes across the field and the farmer has marked the route to take by driving his tractor across to make ruts for you to follow.
At about this time I remembered that I'd packed my acrylic mirror in my rucksack to take some worm's eye views of the bluebells. Plastic mirrors apparently have a funny effect on out of focus backgrounds, but I'm still pleased with the result.
The path then led through fields with hedges full of blossom and trees coming into leaf before we descended into a short section of old sunken lane.
We're on part of the estate of St Paul's Walden Bury, home of the Bowes-Lyon family and, of course, childhood home of the Queen Mother.
And here is their stately pile, or at least one of them; they also reside at Glamis Castle. The present head of the family, the 19th Earl Of Strathmore is a man who only seems to get his name in the papers by getting into trouble with the law.
Whatever else you may say about him, he has some picturesque tree-stumps on his property. (Actually it's Sir Simon Alexander Bowes-Lyon who lives here - see Rosemary's comment below).
And that brings us neatly back to the church where we began our wanderings. Now I'm off to another wood that I'll show you in my next post.
What a most enjoyable walk/stroll this was. You seem to be like me, walk at a pace, then stop and take a few photos. It keeps me from getting out of breath!ReplyDelete
Just what the Doctor ordered, a prescription that will gladden the hearts of those who read your posts!ReplyDelete
Bluebell woods take some beating for sight and scent!
Really beautiful photos. I love the bluebells. What a sight a field of them must be. Thanks for bringing me along today. Enjoy your day, hugs, Edna B.ReplyDelete
Pięknie wykonujesz zdjęcia.ReplyDelete
What a fantastic view those bluebells are. The cairn is interesting, we see dolmens here but I don't think I have ever seen a cairn before.ReplyDelete
This is a very modern cairn built by people with nothing better to do. There are older ones though, mostly marking paths through mountains or moorland.Delete
What a beautiful walk, John. A prescription filled to perfection. Thank you for the journey.ReplyDelete
The chimney photo makes me wonder how the chimneys are still standing when the cookhouse no longer is.
I presume the rest of the buildings were made of wood. Wooden fireplaces and chimneys are not a good idea! :)Delete
Such different topography than the walks I get to take here. Love the bluebells carpeting the floor of the woods. I will have to google that Earl to see what you mean.ReplyDelete
Found him. Arrested for sexual assault of a guest. Oh, my!Delete
And on other occasions the lesser charges of riding his motorbike at 100 mph. and deliberately breaking Covid laws. Not the sort of thing required of the Queen's cousin.Delete
We have fields of bluebells where I live also and my sister and I took our annual stroll to see them last week! We learned that ours are Virginia bluebells. Ours fill the woods that run along the DuPage river which runs through our city. It is always a beautiful sight to see and I always look forward to it each year. Your photos are great - I especially like the one you took with the mirror!ReplyDelete
Beautiful bluebells are a pleasure to the eyes. We have some fields here which I haven't been back to for a few years. Nice to see them here, thanks for sharing.ReplyDelete
It is quite obvious that your prescription was the right kind of medicine for all of us, and I can vouch that it is entirely addictive, eliciting the same degree of euphoria as opium perhaps!ReplyDelete
John you are the best person I know at choosing lovely walks. I enjoyed today's tremendously.ReplyDelete
The bluebells are fantastic! I totally enjoyed that walk today!ReplyDelete
That is a prescription I would happily fill and refill. And try to overdose on too. Thank you.ReplyDelete
Lovely bluebell scenes John.ReplyDelete
Repeat prescription? if only it was Spring.
The bluebells and other spring blooms, with the new green of the leaves are all so welcome after a long winter!ReplyDelete
Those Bluebells in the woods are amazing!ReplyDelete
That was lovely - thanks for the post.ReplyDelete
At a distance bluebells remind me of scilla, which we get this time of year.ReplyDelete
Thanks for this pleasant walk with various interesting things to see. I wonder if the cairn was made in memory of someone. The carpet of bluebells in the woodland has been my longing. English bluebells are exquisite. Spanish bluebells are blooming in my garden, of which colors change from deep blue to light purple in the different light.ReplyDelete
Your bluebell photos are a delight John - the Hitch Wood bluebells never let you down.ReplyDelete
Incidentally it is my understanding that the current Bowes-Lyon living at St. Pauls Walden Bury is not the 19th Earl of Strathmore but Sir Simon Alexander Bowes-Lyon who is 88 years old.
Apologies to Sir Simon.Delete
The bluebell woods are so beautiful.ReplyDelete
What a magical sight the bluebells are John, en masse like this makes a stunning image. I have seen quite similar looking bluebells in the woods in France. The wild primroses are very pretty also 💙ReplyDelete
Your bluebells are so pretty, not that I don't like our Virginia bluebells. They are just different. Your photos of them are wonderful.ReplyDelete
Lovely, just lovely. The bluebells look very like the plant we call Scilla here. I used to have some but they've died out. I wonder if I planted some in my woods...ReplyDelete
Beautiful old church and a stunning little walkReplyDelete
Those bluebells area amazing! Wildflowers are blooming where I live too - I need to get some blog posts and photos up soon.ReplyDelete
Thanks John - beautiful photos and place to see ... thanks for the notes too - memories of bluebell woods come back ... so pleased to see your post - cheers HilaryReplyDelete