Thursday, November 4, 2010

A change of scenery

A refreshing change of scene was to be had on the walk this morning. I decided that instead of heading off to the massive crops that are the managed pine woods where we normally stumble around in search of stagnant ditch water, we’d instead have a wander around the small circular walk through some ancient deciduous woodland at Coed y Felin managed just out side of Mold by the North Wales Wildlife Trust. The area had been introduced to me the other day by Irish Peter although we’d only stopped long enough to check out an old fashioned charcoal maker.

This time I wanted the freedom of just walking alone with the bog monster (does that sound right “alone with the….”?), exploring the area a little more in depth. So sated by copious amounts of strong tea and bacon butties we headed to the base of the Clwydian Range in the fun cruiser with the dulcet tones of Iron Maiden gently caressing our senses. Shortly after leaving the car park in what could only be described as bloody windy conditions, the trail split into two with which ever way chosen circling back to the start, the only decision to make then was up or down. Lucy taking the lead decided the only way was up to which I dutifully followed, hell why not? normally it’s me directing the walks but with the area being new to us I thought I’d leave navigation to Lucy’s canine senses and desires, you know the ones; mud, water, ditch, mud, squirrel, water, mud, stick, mud and oh I nearly forgot mud (did I mention water?).

Two things really struck me about the differences in this walk through mixed deciduous woodland and the uniform crops of managed pine forests that have been our chief haunt of late. Firstly as we entered the wood was the massive diversity of trees and sub plants, brought even more to life by the kaleidoscope of colours as the trees drain the chlorophyll from their leaves. Secondly was the smell, the smell of autumn has been there in the pine forests for a while now but compared to the glorious wall of odour that assaulted my nasal cavity in these woodlands it may as well have been non existent.

Another thought struck as we moved further into the woods and that was the very shape and forms of the larger trees. Walking through the pines they all seem pretty much uniform and a werewolf film director’s perfect set. But here the different types of trees twisted and arched forming all manner of wonderful forms as they competed for the light. The noise was somehow different as well, although close to the road that continues on to Denbigh the woods were more, well more wild in the sounds that reverberated through them. It was as if the trees and creatures were watching and whispering to each other as we stole by, not in a malevolent manner though, just in a slightly suspicious and cautious way. Don’t get me wrong I’m not one for flights of fancy but these woods were more alive, more primitive. Perhaps I’m not making sense here or conveying to well the feelings that washed over me when here, but there was a connection somehow, I’ll just be leaving it at that before you all go thinking the ‘fish is losing the plot.

We descended to the turn around point which was to carry us along the disused and now invisible Mold to Denbigh rail tracks. Lucy had other ideas and instead of left she had a yearning to go right following a narrower and less trodden path. Fine by me, the longer that I spent in these woods the happier my soul was. After just less than a mile this path spilled out onto a tarmac road which from a deep memory I recalled being the access road to a small quarry some years ago. There was a public right of way signed heading into the old quarry area, hey in for a penny… and in any case ol’ stinky was steaming on ahead. As we crested a rise a surprising but wonderful vista opened up before us. Instead of half expected disused quarry workings we were greeted by mankind doing the right thing for once. The area had been landscaped, quarry excavations were now young wildlife ponds, the planting of the surrounds had been done with imagination and compassion with wildlife clearly the main concern, I managed to identify a whole range of species including willow, oak, holly, dog rose, sweet chestnut, hazel, hawthorn and several others. It’s a place I’m looking forward to returning to over and over again to watch and perhaps record the wildlife that will surly be attracted to this embryo paradise sitting beneath the nearby, tree covered hillsides.

We eventually retraced our footsteps and finally arrived home wind burned, aching and content. I stoked my energy levels with chilli made the night before, replenished my tea levels and set to for an afternoon in the inner sanctuary that is the garage, oh not forgetting that I’d also had time to bottle up two litres of sloe gin and just over half a litre of sloe vodka whilst munching upon a handful of late sweet chestnuts finally dislodged by today's wind – roll on those frosty early morning walks in the spring! 

And as for Lucy this afternoon?

'nough said me thinks.

Your friend,



Le Loup said...

Great images and well written, and yes I know exactly what you mean. The area changes in my forest the further one goes west, and the feeling just above Hazard Valley is very different, ancient.
Good post, thank you.

Gorges Smythe said...

Sounds once again like time well spent. I enjoyed the words as much as the pictures.

Bob Mc said...

How much better a wild forest is compared to a managed tree farm. The way nature intended.

Anonymous said...

Sure is a beautiful setting for a hike in the outdoors, John. Really some unique looking trees in the area. Lucy looks like she likes the water as much as us fisherman do. Thanks for sharing.

Karen Thomason/Gordon Setter Crossing said...

Hey John, I love those big gnarly trees. They look like the ones I grew up with. My cousins and I used to climb them as high as we could. They really are beautiful.

Murphyfish said...

Hi Keith,
I just wish that my words had indeed conveyed the feelings and sense of wonder whilst walking under these trees, one of those special moments that happen non to often I feel.

Mr. Smythe,
Thank you for saying so, I am trying to convey the wonder felt but it never seems enough and that my words do not really do justice to the landscapes that I wander.

Hi Bob,
I could not agree more, much more of this type of scenery for us two happy wanderers in the future me thinks.

Hey Mel,
Lucy does indeed have a certain affinity for the water, I’m guessing that’ll be the lab in her. The trees were certainly stunning in there size and shapes, makes you wonder what changes they have witnessed over their lifetimes?

Hello Karen,
There is truly something deep and magical about them, just sitting under one of them whilst having a short pause on the trial and listening to the rhythms around was truly awesome.

To all,
Many thanks for your comments and contributions, always makes me feel good to know that others enjoy my efforts at bringing my wonder of the outdoors to you.

Your friend,

Poppy Cottage said...

You've hit the nail on the head, I have been trying to explain to a friend why I love walking on my own with Lil, it heals my soul, the bit that keeps me sane.

Yes the pups are fantastic, see not all Welsh Men are rough & gruff, and like your Photos are making this West Country loving girl quite like Wales, I am quite happy to tempt you with oodles of puppy pic!! So keep the Welsh countryside photos coming!!

Enjoy your weekend.

Murphyfish said...

Ah so my mythical persona has been laid bare and the teddy bear inside comes forth! But your right, walks like these are certainly good for the soul (if I had one that is ) Just keep the oodles of puppy pics coming me dear.

Wolfy said...

Great post John. Your joy is echoed in the writing. Been years since I've had any chestnuts - made me reminisce.

Even if you, me, and Casey are teh world's worst scoringbloggers, I love the stuff you guys write! I guess I'm just easily amused.


Murphyfish said...

Hey Joe,
Cheers for the pick me up, I guess we could call ourselves the 'three outdoor bloging musketeers', all for beer and beer for all!
LOL John

Damn The Broccoli said...

If you have ever stood in true wild wood, that has no sign of human intervention anywhere, there is never any doubt that the wood is alive. And it is anyway, all the plants are living breathing creatures we tend to overlook in our face-centric viewpoint. So I know exactly what you mean.

Loving the idea of walking, bog monster and Mr Dickinson belting out Fear of The Dark, A man who walks alone?

Murphyfish said...

Hey Damn,
Indeed, when drawn into the living web like I felt that I was in those woods,there was an overwhelming feeling of peace and belonging, guess that's what I was trying to say along in the post.
Ah Mr. Dickinson was crooning some old school upon this occasion - run to the hills and children of the damned - still mighty fine songs.

Casey said...

Hi John! Thanks for taking me along on your walk. The words and pics mesh together very rightly! It seems the diversity of this area really caught you. It's one of the things I love about the decidious woods.

As always - great post and pics, John.

Peace and take care -


Murphyfish said...

Always a pleasure Casey my friend, there is something very special about deciduous woodland indeed.

Bill said...

Very nice read and I enjoyed "going along with you" John. As always nice job on the photos as well. Of course I always love to see the bog monster. In fact, I have a half sister to my dalmatian that could be her twin (well maybe not a twin but close). I'll have to post a pic someday.

Murphyfish said...

Hey Bill,
Thanks for the comment, it would be good to see another 'bog monster' picture from across the pond.

John Gray said...

small world john
irish peter was enrolled on my last "chicken for beginners" course!!

he has just given me three of his non laying hens for retirement!!!

he's a character!

Karl said...

Hi John,

Love the blog. Your dog Lucy looks like a great nature companion for hikes, hunts and walks.

Your wide range of pics are great too. Hope you don't mind, I'll be adding you to my blogroll.

By the way, I have to ask, what kind of hiking boots are in the photo in your header? They look similar to my Asolos...whatever they are, they resemble well made boot (leather uppers, etc.).


Murphyfish said...

Hi John,
Small world indeed, "he's a character" may just be one of the biggest understatements I've heard for quite a while my good man. Would you mind if I e-mailed your good self to ask a little advice regarding chickens and their requirements?

Murphyfish said...

Hi Karl,
Thanks for stopping by and for the kind words.
As to the boots they're a couple of years old now and they are 'Peter Storm Skiddaw' boots, leather uppers with a vibram sole. By now means the most expensive boot on the market (the mark II is out now for around £50) but when trying boots I tried all manor of makes from Berghaus to Salomon and these seemed to suit me the best. After a few years use they're still going strong and have seen many a trail. But my footwear of choice are ' Trail Meister' sandals by Columbia, during the warmer months these are like a second skin to me and I absolutely love them over a huge range of terrain.

John Gray said...

e mail away!