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
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?). Clwydian Range
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.