To The Woods! - A
Surfeit Of Bluebells
w/e 14 May 2006
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 Aprils 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.
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.
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.
This next wood, Oldmoor, was a little further of the beaten track
and involved a mile walk
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.
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.
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.
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 was
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
And like a skylit water stood, the bluebells in the azured wood.'
And they're still standing today.