To The Woods! - A Surfeit Of Bluebells
w/e 14 May 2006
All this week's pictures were taken with a Kodak DX6490

Robert Browning in his 'Home Thoughts, From Abroad' wrote 'Oh, to be in England now that April’s there" and William Wordsworth while wandering 'lonely as a cloud' paid tribute to daffodils. If I had been blessed with their poetic prowess, I would probably have substituted 'May' for 'April' and written in praise of bluebells instead. But I was not so don't expect any odes to accompany this selection of images from six different local woods.

Shipley Wood

A six mile circular walk from home on Monday morning, part of it with a group of friends, took us into Shipley Wood, where we paused several times to enjoy the sight and aroma of the bluebells. Although this appears to be deep in the countryside, in truth the Ilkeston Community Hospital is only a few yards to the left and the main road from Ilkeston to Heanor is just as close on the right. The only clue to its proximity to civilisation is the amount of litter that had accumulated on the well worn paths and tracks through the wood.
Cotmanhay Wood

A couple of days later with the sun sinking low in the sky I captured this image in the nearby Cotmanhay Wood. This too is only a hop step and a jump from civilisation being at the back of the houses on Beauvale Drive.
Oldmoor Wood

This next wood, Oldmoor, was a little further of the beaten track and involved a mile Harewalk from Strelley Village. I initially thought that we had made a wasted journey as, on first entering the wood, the bluebells were outnumbered by dandelions. Persistence paid off however with views like this through the trees deeper into the wood. It was here too that we were surprised by an animal bounding towards us along one of the tracks through the undergrowth. At first we thought it was a young fox but it turned out to be a large hare who on meeting us at a junction of two tracks, turned and sped off never to be seen again. I don't know which of us was more startled but although I did manage to glimpse it through the viewfinder, the resulting image (right) was blurred.
Lady Wood

Oldmoor Wood is on the Nottinghamshire side of the River Erewash but returning to Derbyshire for our next port of call, we found ourselves in forbidden territory in as much as Lady Wood is a private wood with no public access. That is why this image was captured from a grass verge at the side of the main road towards Derby, west of Kirk Hallam. It also probably accounts for its unkempt look even though of all the woods featured here, this is the one because of its location, that is seen by more peoplethan the others put together.
Hermit's Wood

Also off that same road is the village of Dale Abbey which is were we find the last two of these six woods. The first and probably the most popular, most visited of the six is Hermit's Wood. It is perhaps because of its popularity that the bluebell displays in Hermit's Wood are not as good these days as my childhood memories recall. The best of the displays are in fact just outside the wood where the flowers have spread into the field edges and here at the side of the high level footpath that leads along the sandstone escarpment into the wood.
Ockbrook Wood

The final wood is officially called Ockbrook Wood and is fairly adjacent to Hermit's Wood. With some justification a lot of people locally including myself, know this wood by the alternative name of Bluebell Wood. It Cattlewas while we were in this wood that we received another surprise. Three beasts of the bovine variety had found their way into the wood from a nearby farm but were unable to find their way out again. Like Hermit's Wood, Ockbrook Wood is also on a sandstone escarpment so we were able to view them running along the boundary from above but when they blocked our exit from the wood we had to find an alternative way out. Knowing my phobia of all things cattle-like that stems from this very place - see here - it should come as no surprise to you to find that this image (right) was captured from the safety of the other side of the boundary fence! Oh and as for the comment at the top of this page about not expecting any poetry to accompany these images, well I lied! These few lines come from 'In My Own Shire, If I Was Sad' by A. E. Houseman (1859 - 1936). It seems unless it was me in a previous life, he beat me to it with a verse that mentions both May and bluebells.
'Or littering far the fields of May lady-smocks a-bleaching lay,
And like a skylit water stood, the bluebells in the azured wood.'
And they're still standing today.

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