When we moved here at the end of 2000, we intended to explore the surrounding countryside, but Foot & Mouth put paid to those good intensions. I have only just recently discovered that we have a delightful Essex Wildlife Trust Nature Reserve within walking distance, one which promises bluebells and anemones later in the year.
Shut Heath Wood is part of the Chantry complex of ancient woodland – something else I don’t know enough about.
I decided to go for a walk yesterday, armed with just the compact camera, to see what it’s like. It’s supposed to have a “car park”. Well, you might, just, squeeze a couple of cars off the track but it hasn’t really got parking, so I’m glad I walked.
It was one of those special days where the light has that lucent quality where the angle of the sun is just right and the air is glowing with moisture. The trees still lack leaves but the catkins were a golden shimmer round the hazels, and the pussy willows just beginning to burst their buds.
The woods have a feeling of enchantment, especially one place where the Old Ones look as if they have frozen in place, yet might pull up their roots and walk. It was both beautiful and ever so slightly alarming.
A stream cuts through a narrow gully, heading northwards to a lake. In another place, the dampness oozes out, and there are sedges. The bluebells are just beginning to poke their heads up.
There are lots of logs for mosses and invertebrates.
Apart from a glimpse of one other person, I saw nobody else and had that delightful feeling of quiet solitude.